Chthe’ilist are a duo hailing from Quebec, but judging from their tongue-twisting moniker and the equally challenging title of their debut demo on Graceless Recordings, Amechth’ntaas’m’rriachth, it’s entirely possible that they only claimed Canadian residency after rising from the slimy vaults of Lovecraft’s sunken city of R’lyeh. Of course, one cannot judge a band by name alone, and the otherworldly sounds emanating from this tape only serve to further my theory that they are the death metal servants of Cthulhu.
On Amechth’ntaas’m’rriachth, Chthe’ilist crank out old school DM that recalls the extra-dimensional filth of Demilich; it’s drenched in grit ‘n’ grime aplenty, but not at the expense of clarity. Each and every one of guitarist/vocalist Pat Tougas’ avalanche of riffs is easily discernible amidst the miasmal production scheme, and it is those riffs that dominate the mix while drummer Philippe Boucher pushes the shambling beast ever forward through the pitch-black distortion field. The guitar tone is absolutely hideous in the best way possible, blunt and crushing, yet sharp enough to accentuate Tougas’ craftsmanship.
The vocals are the gruesome gurgling of an elder thing, retched up from the bowels of the abyss, adding yet another layer of unearthly atmosphere to the proceedings. Surprisingly, some clean vocals do claw their way up out of the muck, the only remotely human-sounding element to be found anywhere within the suffocating confines of Amechth’ntaas’m’rriachth. Without printed lyrics and given the fact that the song titles are just as impenetrable as the band’s name, it’s difficult to say what exactly Chthe’ilist are singing about, but the vibes of unspeakable cosmic horror are nonetheless palpable.
Several bands of late have impressed me with cassette releases, but Chthe’ilist stand out from the pack with their decidedly demented take on death metal; let’s face it, you don’t hear too many bands sporting a Demilich influence, let alone one that uses that as a mere jump-off point and weaves their own personal riff-maze of torment. The Great Old Ones are pleased.