Cholera - Prophecies of Annihilation (Own Label)

Cholera; not everything connected with the word is shit after all.

It is, of course, utterly ludicrous that Ottawa’s Cholera are currently unsigned. From the moment they kick off with the jaunty brutality of Road into the Fire (which comes fully equipped with lashings of Schuldineresque tech lead mania) the word CLASS just keeps worming its way into the front of your mind, defying you to show it the door with a kick up the rump to see it out.

Second track Enslaved Humanity is a touch more progressive, though no less compelling or indeed brilliant, guitarist Raphael Weinroth-Browne piling on the ecstatic agony with riff after riff after... you get the drift, right?

He’s a talented chap, Raph; not content with ladelling on the molten riffage he also plays drums, keyboards, does the vocals and dabbles in Cello and, um, Oud. He’s sickeningly good at it all, too, accompanying himself on Enslaved... with some marvellously gothic organ work in fine style whilst the only other human involved here, bassist Matthew Buller adds suitably sub-sonic adornment where required.

Midway through the second track you’d be forgiven for thinking you were listening to a different band entirely from the one that offered up Road..., as mournful clean vocals give way to some (slightly muffled – the ‘cheap’ production is the only thing about PoA that lets the album down) blast beats that give a real black metal air to proceedings. Things get back on an even keel at the arse end of the track however, with some tasty eastern riffage taking centre stage before Weinroth-Browne removes any loose flaps of skin you’ve foolishly left exposed to the air with some caustic soloing.

By the time third track The Lost Traveler has settled into its mammoth eighteen-minute long groove, a pattern has emerged. Unfortunately the pattern has, in the corner, in small letters, ‘copyright: M. Akerfeldt’, but if you are going to wear your influences quite so prominently on your sleeve I guess its best they’re good influences, and who better is there to look up to at the moment than the might O(peth)?
Track four, Reminiscence,  shifts the focus a little from Sweden to Switzerland, with its cello and piano based assault definitely laying a wreath at the grave of Celtic Frost, Weinroth-Browne shifting from his earlier deathly hollers to a doom laden croon that is spectacularly effective, if only for the elements of light and shade it brings to proceedings. Fear not the loss of heaviness however; by the end of the track normal service is resumed with some earthily succulent heaviosity in the riff department.

The title track rounds things out in suitably epic style for an album that weighs in at over an hour and comprises only five tracks, and I have to say that, minor quibblage aside, I’ve not enjoyed a death metal record as much as Prophecies of Annihilation for some time - it actually begs repeated listens and gets better each time you press play; If they continue ploughing this furrow then I for one at least can’t wait to hear what they come up with next.