Desaster – Churches Without Saints (Metal Blade)

Wednesday, 9th June 2021
Rating: 7.5/10

Although the albums come out more sporadically, German blackened/thrash outfit Desaster are reliable in terms of sheer quality release to release. Outside obligations growing deeper into adult lives explains why Churches Without Saints as the ninth studio record comes five years after The Oath of An Iron Ritual. Gaining a new drummer in Hont, the performances garner accolades for the raw, punishing tones and energy displayed – the quartet continuing to marry the speed of thrash with the evil screams and primitive blasts of black metal, and occasionally inject a bit of throwback traditional flair for good measure.

Aggression and varied songwriting with ritualistic, circular riffing and measured screams and semi-gritty growls are typical of the Desaster approach. When they choose to settle into an epic/doom-like crawl for the 6:31 title track, it’s a rewarding reprieve from the speedier offerings. Straightforward charging riffs and runs match the up-tempo thrash for “Hellputa”, the lead break of Infernal containing a mix of Teutonic/Scandinavian influences. Tremolo-picking and savage blasting occurs in blitzkrieg moments throughout the record, as the shrieks from Satanic shatter the crimson sky during “Learn to Love the Void” and “Sadistic Salvation”. The band take the best aspects of early Sodom and Destruction and throw them into a blender with Venom and Destroyer 666 to spit out these fire and brimstone cuts – occasionally adding in some nifty nods to older NWOBHM for versatility. The style has that off the rails edge when all the parts come alive, only to switch into this well-executed blackened thrash part where the words conjure up everything from religious hypocrisy to uncertainty of life and other deeper philosophical textures.

Desaster will always be one of those cult bands that are best seen in a small venue or intimate festival to get the full ambiance of what they put across. Churches Without Saints much like their previous discography doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel – just keep it churning along safely.

Desaster official website