Derkéta – In Death We Meet (originally self-released 2012; remixed/remastered CD and vinyl edition Ibex Moon Records, April/December 2015)
Named for a goddess of death in the mythology of the fictional kingdom of Stygia (analogous to Egypt in the Hyborian era setting of Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories), the band Derkéta are widely regarded as Pittsburgh’s own goddesses of death/doom metal. You remember Derkéta, don’t you? Formed almost three decades ago, active on and off throughout those years with many of the same core members rotating in and out of the line-up; released a number of demos and EPs but then finally put out their debut album in 2012?
For a quick refresher, you could get a more complete history by checking out this interview that I did with founding guitarist/vocalist Sharon Bascovsky about three and a half years ago, when the band was about to perform at the Winter’s Wake festival in Pittsburgh.
Since that time, In Death We Meet was remastered for a vinyl release via Ibex Moon, and during that process they went ahead and polished up the recordings for a new CD version as well — which (in my opinion) was a vast improvement to the overall mix (generally sounding louder and heavier, wider and more spacious, with a more even blend of all the instruments rather than having the cymbal crashes dominating everything else) and warranted an “Honorable Mention” on my Top 15 of 2015 list.
And now — tonight, in fact — the band will be appearing in Pittsburgh once again, this time alongside the legendary Deströyer 666 at the Smiling Moose. You can find the relevant details about that right here if you happen to be in the area, but first, whether you’re planning on going to the show tonight or not, this seemed like a perfect opportunity for us to discuss In Death We Meet …
This record starts off with the sound of rain and tolling bells, just like the self-titled debut album by the godfathers of doom metal did, but the thunderously heavy death-doom riffs that kick off the ten-and-a-half minute opener “Goddess of Death,” and the vicious gutteral grunts that enter a few minutes later, leave no question about the direction this band has taken that early influence and mangled it almost beyond recognition.
Throughout the ten songs on this album (which includes two newly-recorded bonus tracks: “Darkness Fades Life” and the Sepultura cover “Troops of Doom”) the band occasionally slips into a bit of a faster crossover/thrash tempo, but for the most part they blend the low-to-mid tempo death metal style of early innovators like Incantation with the doom vibes of their contemporaries such as Dream Death and Novembers Doom.
Either way, though, the whole thing is unquestionably heavy and brutal, and absolutely dark as hell. Especially nearer the end of the album: in “Last Rites” (during which that funerary bell sound briefly reappears) the vocals seem especially deep and gruff, set against a barrage of double-kick, and similarly the album (excluding the bonus tracks) ends with the sinister and powerful title track fading away into an eerie cold wind, like a mist settling over a graveyard in the middle of the night.
Here you can check out “Rest in Peace” as performed at Winter’s Wake, February 2013 (with apologies for the poor sound quality of the camera we were using at that time!):
Then be sure to grab the reissued In Death We Meet here. Using the Bandcamp player below, you can preview the originally released (2012) version of the album.
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