Published Aug 13, 2019The uncontested lords of New Zealand blackened death, Diocletian have resurfaced with yet another lineup, and a deliberately regressive take on their bombarding sound, with Amongst the Flames of a Burning God.
While 2014's Gesundrian saw Diocletian in a more polished state than was perhaps in line with the aesthetic of their otherwise unsavoury spirit, sole founding member, Atrocitor, has once more assembled an arsenal of potently savage musicians for the band's newest iteration, including vocalist Impurath, of the legendary Black Witchery.
"Nuclear Wolves" opens the album like a bloody mission statement: this is not Gesundrian. In every aspect of Amongst the Flames of a Burning God, from production to song structure, there is a retrograde vibe that runs throughout, seeking to reach back to the days of Doom Cult and harness a more stripped-down breed of ferocity.
In this, Diocletian unerringly succeed, leaving little breathing room between such scathing tracks as the fleeting "Repel the Attack," or the demoralizing anxiety of "Berserker Rites." The band also apply some off-kilter vocal layering in "Plundered By Hyenas," which bolsters an already lunatic frenzy.
But in the churn of sonic holocaust, somehow, Diocletian retain a particularity to their sound that is undeniably their own, and that has run throughout their discography, even despite shifts in direction and members. This is doubly laudable, given the often homogenous tendency of the bestial black metal sound.
While not their greatest feat, Amongst the Flames of a Burning God is a welcome and satisfying return for one of the best groups in this style, serving as a fascinating deconstruction and return to the raw essentials of what makes Diocletian such an enduring band. (Profound Lore)