The 2012 demo, Hell By Our Hands, introduced a new force in the blackened crust scene. Occultist produced tracks of such extremity and intensity that you simply could not ignore them. The band first came to be when Leland Hoth (ex-Battlemaster) and Jim Reed (also of Thurifer) got in touch. Soon Nathaniel Acker also came on board as the bassist for the band and Kerry Zylstra came out of nowhere to handle the vocal duties. And now, just one year after Hell By Our Hands, Occultist are once again spreading mayhem with their latest full-length, Death Sigils.
The all out attack of “Iron Distort” almost sets the speakers ablaze with Occultist combining the power of crust with influences from the thrash metal and death metal scenes, all wrapped around a dark, black metal cloth making this endeavor cursed beyond redemption. Slayer-ized riffing gives way to the punk outbreak of “Devil’s Breath”, with Occultist masterfully blending their death/thrash aura to their primitive core.
The title track sees the band taking a trip to an even darker side. For the first minute Occultist are almost flirting with a doomier pace and groove. Soon enough, of course, they let loose their full aggression on you, leaving nothing in their path standing from the incoming assault. What is great is their ability to adapt their blackened crust-core sound to all their different influences and still sound so cohesively menacing and brutal. “Ritual Blast” with its thrashy attitude brings forth one of the most furious moments of the album, with a crazy Slayer-izing solo sending you packing. The deal is pretty much the same with “Path of the Damned” with thrash giving way to crust and leaving you to the mercy of violence. With “A Hell for the Innocent”, Occultist continue their descent into the depths of extremity. The track is darker than the previous offerings with haunting vocals rendering you speechless and the insane groove inviting you to bang your head until it just drops off your shoulders. Even with the fast pace and general upbeat nature of the track, this band is somehow able to turn this piece into one of the darkest songs found within Death Sigils. That is of course after the two final tracks of the album.
“Blackest Apotheosis” presents an intro that will send chills down your spine. The complete embrace of the punk-ish vibe with the blackened aura is complete. Occultist are sending your way eerie leads, building a sickening ambiance, and then unleash their old school crust riffology. The track itself is reaching to almost touch the boundaries of doom metal at moments, but that is something they focus more on their last song. “Towers of Silence” is the absolute peak of the album. The epic intro with its slow doom pace coupled with the deep death metal vocals, sounding huge here, fill the space around you. The grandiose appearance of the track through this impressive intro is enough to sell you to this band’s music. Occultist are getting in touch with their inner doom self and produce an impressively dark song filled with dissonant parts, great movement and overwhelming weight.
Death Sigils is an album that will appeal to most extreme metal fans simply because you can find almost everything in here. The punkish/crust basis and attitude, the blackened ambiance with its eerie and dissonant riffology, the thrash metal mayhem, the death metal depth and the doom metal weight are all found within.