Formed in 1997, Dutch death metallers Centurian were one of the formidable forces in underground metal up to their demise’ in 2002, a band which was to the forefront of the second wave of death metal which included the likes of Angelcorpse and Krisiun. Now they have returned with their first album in twelve years in the destructive storm that is Contra Rationem, a release which in many ways just continues where the band left off but equally forges a fresh presence with an intensity and spite derived from current inspirations.
Started by Rob Oorthuis (guitars) and Wim van der Valk (drums) with the intent of creating death metal based on memorable riffs, one-foot blastbeats and lyrics that celebrate Choronzon333, Centurian fronted by vocalist Seth van de Loo grabbed attention with their demo Of Purest Fire in 1998. The same year bassist Patrick Boleij joined to complete the line-up and the band signed to Full Moon Productions who then re-released their demo before in 1999 the debut album Choronzonic Chaos Gods. The following year saw the departure of van de Loo and Boleij to be replaced by vocalist/bassist Jerry Brouwer and guitarist Oskar van Paradijs as the band began writing their follow-up album. Signing with Listenable Records the band unleashed Liber Zarzax in 2001 to great acclaim but by the end of the year due to Oorthuis wanting to explore other realms of extreme metal with a new venture NOX, the days of Centurian came to an end leading to its closure in 2002. The new avenue for Oorthuis also found strong success if at times hampered by line-up changes and by 2010 after the release of Blood, Bones and Ritual Death again via Listenable who also release this returning beast of a Centurian release, Nox was put on hiatus and the former muscular guise returned to action. Consisting of Oorthuis, Boleij, and van de Loo (on drums this time around) once more with vocalist Niels Adams adding his magnificent vocal scourge, Centurian leaps at the senses with an appetite and brutality which instantly harks back to their former presence whilst bouncing off the boundaries firmly entrenched in current violations.
Thou Shalt Bleed for the Lord thy God assassinates the senses first, its lethal rhythms and teasing sonic lashing sunk within an onslaught of ravenous riffing, instantly contagious and intimidating. The vocals of Adams expertly scowl and scar the ear to match the intensity forged elsewhere and though barely two minutes in primal length the track is a declaration that the band is back mightier and more sadistic than ever.
The following of Crown of Bones and Feast of the Cross explode with sadistic hunger to continue the impressive start. The first of the pair courts and prowls the listener with unbridled malevolence fused within tightly infectious grooves and abrasive sonics carried on a further brawling tempest of vocal excellence. You cannot say Adams offers anything in his delivery which others have also not explored but there is a compelling element to his style and expressive craft which like the music grips firmly and magnetically. The second of the two songs is a maelstrom of back snapping rhythms from van de Loo which demand respect and attention and a rapacious attack of accomplished sonic venom and annihilatory bruising.
Into the heart of the release the band pull out their finest moments starting with Judas Among Twelve. Veined by spiteful grooves and further rhythmic violence, the song crowds the ear with intensity and passion whilst forcing through rabid sonic seduction and bestial riffs which chew and rampage across the senses until they are black and blue. Virulently contagious and equally corruptive the song shows the full potency drawn from the band recording the tracks on Contra Rationem as single takes fired by their intense passion. The outstanding demonic Antinomian and the tempest of malicious vehemence that is The Will of the Torch both raise a further greedy ardour with their commanding accomplished statures to leave a lack of easy breath in the lungs.
Ensuring the savageness continues to the final note of the release tracks like Sin Upon Man and Damnatio Memoriae unleash further irresistible barbarity, violence and persuasive grooves wrapped in impossible to refuse corrosive dynamics. Arguably Contra Rationem does not venture in to new territories but such the quality and irrepressible inducement on offer it is not an issue to make a dent in the pleasure it delivers throughout.
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