Devoured - The Curse of Sabda Palon
Title: Indonesian mythological death metal
Sabdapalon or Sabda Palon was a priest and adviser to Brawijaya V, the last ruler of the Hindu-Buddha empire Majapahit in Java. Well, this is a nice new topic and it deviates from all the stuff that is around these days. Interestingly, this output appears to have been in the pipeline for quite some time or at least (part of) the music has. With a 2016 single that contains one of the tracks -- Sabda XIII - Gemuruh Air Puluhan Ribu Dosa -- it can be speculated about how the music has matured or being kept in the back over all these years.
Maybe this is also the reason the approach is not entirely consistent in style and sound. While the overall direction is unmistakably some kind of death metal, the style switches a bit over the course of the release. Especially in the middle of the album there are nods towards punk or thrash. Overall though the Indonesians appear to be more comfortable in the realm of old-school death metal and with tracks whose length tends to be shorter than four minutes most of the time, they also like to keep it tight and with a considerable amount of pace.
Earlier references that put them stylistically close to Animals Killing People is not true any more. Rather a mixture of Asphyx, Repugnant and Undergang could be used in order to point into the general direction this band had developed. Their sound contains a lot of facets and cannot be nailed down to one single approach only. Solo guitar elements are a must and they are of solid quality, but not too spectacular and sadly way too short. Vocals are a form of growling and not too guttural, while on some rare occasions a less deep voice is used as well.
When it comes to the discussion of the pros and cons of this album it is only necessary to bring up two tracks as examples: Hutan Hujan Darah and the successive Siasat Sang Maha Patih Paripurna. While the former one comes with some nice (lead-) guitar parts, sound and arrangement, the latter one opens with an odd as well as unnecessarily long intro, differs slightly in sound and comes with an odd and somewhat punkish riff. To keep it short: Devoured presents music that tends to deviate from the path and which has a slightly off sound or style at times. Interestingly enough, the track which follows after this slight odd one is much better again.
The music is intense and has the vibe/atmosphere that can be associated with old-school death metal. It is not as sinister as the one of Undergang for instance, but such an approach would not go hand in hand with the music of this band from Indonesia. A good release, but some parts do their best to not leave a lasting impression.
To add some final aspect to this review: there are no samples of ritualistic Buddhistic chanting. And as this reviewer is too lazy to translate the lyrics via an online tool, it was not possible to establish whether the band actually deals with the topic indicated in the title of this release.