Dikasterion’s ‘Demo MMXVIII’ left an immediate mark once I first heard it; a raw fist from the Belgian Underground with its chaos-embodying Black Metal in the spirit of Barathrum, Beherit, Archgoat, Bathory and Watain. A glance at the song titles revealed a sophistication behind the entropy, using biblical passages dealing with devil worship and witchcraft as song titles. This thematic was further continued on the subsequent ‘Stavelot 1597 / Rome 897’ EP, containing two songs dealing with actual convictions of witchcraft and devil worship. It has taken a few Covid-ridden years before we get to embrace new material of the band, but in 2023 we finally get served a new chapter in the band’s history, titled ‘Chaos As a New World’ released through Amor Fati Productions.
On this most recent EP, Dikasterion brings us seven songs that together combine for nearly 30 minutes of material. If we take the short intro out of the equation, that amounts to five new songs and a cover, although you can argue that there are two songs that aren’t originally by the band. More on that in a bit. Much of the material is strongly in line with the previous work of the band. The musical basis is still comparable to Bathory, Archgoat, Beherit, Barathrum, older Watain and Australian filth like Gospel of the Horns and Deströyer 666. Each of these bands has chaos at the center of their formula and this remains one of the outstanding qualities of Dikasterion. The new material is still raw and unchained with filth-spewing vocals to top it all off. The sound of the recordings is somewhat less unpolished compared to their earlier work. Having said that, I like the analogue sound of the guitars and the recordings a lot, and the music is no less violent than before. It does make it obvious from the start that ‘Armies of the Night’ is a cover, originally recorded in 1984 by Stormtrooper. More of a Heavy Metal belter with for the time and style rather raw vocals, it’s the sort of song one can imagine as favourite to drop on the playlist when enjoying a few good drinks. Despite the different style, the faithful interpretation certainly doesn’t feel out of place on the EP. That is not in the least because Dikasterion doesn’t just limit itself to mindless violence, alternating the dynamics through raw and unchained sections, more grooving midtempo parts, ripping solos and a tasteful hint of melody. And then there’s the final track ‘Death’s Serenade’, which needs a bit of an introduction.
Earlier I mentioned the lyrical content of the previous recordings, and subjects like perdition (a state of eternal punishment and damnation into which a sinful person passes after death) tie in to these thematics, the song titles leave a little bit more to the imagination. ‘Death’s Serenade’ is musically a different track, finding a deep root in folk melodies, but lyrically however, it appears to embody what Dikasterion stands for. The song is an interpretation of medieval Italian folk dance ‘Schiarazula Marazula’ originally composed by Giorgio Mainerio. It was used as part of rituals in the 16th and 17th century where dancers would invoke rain on the evening of Pentecost. Concerned that this was the dance of the witches, in 1624 the inquisition felt the need to call for intervention against it. Dikasterion have taken the exact folk melody and flutes and combined it with their own French lyrics, turning it into a more medieval Heavy Metal song with clean vocals. The song is not entirely devoid of its typical Dikasterion venom either, rearing its head at the very end of the song. Personally I find it a refreshing addition to the release, not the sort where I necessarily would listen to an entire album, but as a tribute to something clearly important for the band it simply works splendidly.
‘Chaos As a New World’ feels like a more personal recording for the band, incorporating a cover and folk traditional with their Black Metal that appear important to the band’s identiy. It certainly makes the latest EP the most diverse work, but it still maintains the chaotic and raw nature that made Dikasterion stand out in the first place. Excellent new release that was well worth the wait!