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Scáth Na Déithe – Virulent Providence

scáth na déithe – virulent providence


Shadow of the Gods. That is a rough translation of the Irish text Scáth Na Déithe, which is also a band hailing from Rush (or An Ros), a small seaside town that is part of the historic county of Dublin. Although the band was formed as a duo in 2015, as of 2019 it solely consists of founding member Cathal Hughes who takes cares of everything. This includes both the more traditional Metal instruments and vocals, but also mandolin, fiddle and bodhrán. Since the release of the second album, ‘The Dirge of Endless Mourning’, the band has been signed to Vendetta Records, who in early 2023 released the third full-length ‘Virulent Providence’ on all physical formats.

What immediately drew me to the latest Scáth Na Déithe album was the stunning artwork courtesy of Luciana Nedelea Artwork Transylvania, an artist that I’m sure we will see more great work of in the future. And the artwork, showing dark, oppressive, and haunting elements as well as a sense of relief is a great match with the music on offer.

‘Virulent Providence’ consists of just two tracks of nearly 21 and 19 minutes respectively. During these long compositions, the mood and pace shift frequently. ‘Virulent Providence Pt.1’ starts off furiously and somewhat chaotically in a clash of Death and Black Metal, but as the song progress bouts of anger and fury are frequently interchanged for gloomy oppressive sections and at times somewhat more relieving passages. Especially the low guitar tuning, the heavy album sound and often growling vocals give a strong Death Metal connotation, but also a riff like the one in in ‘Virulent Providence Pt.2’ at the 6:30 mark could be described as typical old school Death Metal. The Black Metal mostly comes from the at times dissonant guitar riffs, but Hughes’ vocals also often shift more towards higher pitched shrieks. When the music slows to a crawl, for instance at the start of‘Virulent Providence Pt.2’, there are strong resemblances to Doom Metal as well. Together they create a haunting and suffocating atmosphere, one of a looming threat that continuously lurks over the listener as the songs go through changes of mood, style and pace. To me it sounds something like a blend of Blut Aus Nord and Esoteric with a bit more emphasis on the Death Metal side. Most important to stress here is that these have been blended exceptionally well.

Songs of this length can be a challenging listen, but while there is a lot happening and a lot to discover for the listener, the songwriting somehow makes sense. The build-up in the tracks is just right, with the focus on certain passages just long or short enough and the variety in pace enough to keep the attention but not too much to lose the direction of the song. And that is an achievement on its own. Those that love the murkiness of Death Metal, the chaos of Black Metal and the crushing sound of Doom would do well to give this Scáth Na Déithe album a much-deserved chance.

Scáth Na Déithe

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