Transformation: a confident debut album of black / death metal fusion for mainstream and underground metal audiences

Theurgia, Transformation, Germany, Worship Tapes, cassette wt 121 / ESFINGE04 (limited edition) (2017)

Formed in Maracaibo, Venezuela, in 2014, Theurgia have now relocated to Colombia and expanded from a solo act to a quartet. The band plays a very raw, aggressive and dark style of dense black / death metal fusion very similar (a bit too much so, in my view) to French BM legends Deathspell Omega, with plenty of clear and spacious atmosphere. Lyrics focus on themes of nihilism and spiritual transcendence. “Transformation” is the debut album, following an earlier EP released in 2015.

For the most part, the album is a tearaway effort with acidly poisonous vocals backed by rapid-fire drums and dense layers of raw growling guitars. The music isn’t quite as stop-start agile as DSO’s and is easier to follow which is a relief if you’re not into the more technical aspects of blackened death fusions. Fitting its original cassette format with two playable sides, the music on “Transformation” divides into two halves, each preceded by a short atmospheric instrumental, with each half forming a self-contained unit linked to the other like a good twin / bad twin set. “ILV (The Verb of Waters)” is a strong starter that sets the pace and tone of the album and which sounds very DSO, if a little bit slower, less dense and less varied in sound. The title track brings in more atmosphere, an epic doom sound in parts and singing ranging from BM-demonic to near-clean heroic that beef up the song and turn what would otherwise be a straightforward blackened death metal track into something operatic and filled with passion. “Transformation (Of Synesthetic Formula)” comes over even more DSO than previous tracks with a higher-pitched dissonant bewitching-jewel guitar sound, a structure that ranges from runaway blast-beat percussion to almost funereal doom, and an overall atmosphere of extreme derangement and immense malevolence. The vocals sometimes approach eerie throat-singing and that might be something Theurgia could highlight on future recordings.

After the second instrumental piece – like the first, it’s a darkly atmospheric mini-opus of bottomless cavern … and it features throat-singing as well! – the band goes into a more melodic and slightly cleaner mainstream metal direction with a trilogy of songs revolving around a very disturbing nightmare. The songs are as fast (or as slow) as ever but the sound seems a lot clearer and there is even space present within songs. Even the gravelly singing seems sharp and clear. There’s more lead guitar as a solo instrument and as an instrument separating from and leading the rest of the music.

On this album Theurgia presents as a confident band that knows exactly what it wants and how to get it. The quartet’s range of influences, music and effects is broad and eclectic, and could be even more so without affecting the band’s essential black / death fusion style. I’d like to see these guys develop a more distinct style as the DSO comparisons are eventually bound to hang around their necks like an unwanted albatross. A more varied vocal style and maybe the use of acoustic instruments in an even more dark and evil atmosphere would help. Risking my neck again, I see a very big future for these guys as a black / death metal fusion band straddling mainstream and underground metal.

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