Death Penalty – “Death Penalty” (2014)

Label: Rise Above Records

Review by Alessandra Cognetta

Death Penalty was founded in late 2013 by Gaz Jennings, after the split of Cathedral. Death Penalty released an EP, “Sign of Times” in 2014 and a self- titled album later that year. “Death Penalty” is a mix of doom and heavy metal, of Gaz Jenning’s riffs and Michelle Nocon’s sharp, energetic voice, offering a fresh take on both genres.

There is good balance in the album, but Death Penalty also knows how to showcase a guitar solo or a particularly daring vocal line with well-timed transitions. There is great coordination among the instruments, for example in “Eyes of the Heretic”, to achieve a classic sound that could have otherwise easily felt empty. While the album kicks off in medias res, it also takes time to focus on groovier, darker tunes, such as in “Golden Tides”, one of Michelle’s best performances. The doom element, which was briefly suggested at the beginning, finds its most genuine expression in the haunting sequence of “Children of the Night” and “The One that Dwells”. “She Is a Witch” follows, a great song with heavy instrumental sections balanced by Michelle, who keeps showing her ability to approach songs with a diverse variety of vocal attitudes. “Written by the Insane”, the longest track on the album, serves as a perfect ending for “Death Penalty” and stands as one of the strongest points of the release.

“Death Penalty” is a perfect entry point for new listeners and a great gift to fans who have followed the artists’ individual paths so far. The band has honed their skills and the improvement from their first EP is evident, showing greater chemistry among the musicians and a spark that could lead Death Penalty much farther in the future. This ride is not one I’d recommend missing.

Rating – 78/100

Tracklist

  1. Grotesque Horizon
  2. Howling at the Throne of Decadence
  3. Eyes of the Heretic
  4. Golden Tides
  5. Into the Ivory Forest
  6. Children of the Night
  7. The One That Dwells
  8. She Is a Witch
  9. Immortal by Your Hand
  10. Written by the Insane

 

Line Up

  • Michelle Nocon – Vocals
  • Gaz Jennings – Guitars
  • Raf Meukens – Bass
  • Frederik Cosemans – Drums

 

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