Dante Would be Proud

-- The Curse of Millhaven --

Stijn Daneels

Album genres:
Death Metal
Album artists:
Jasper Lobelle Vocals
Jeroen Debruyne Guitars

The Pick-Up

My first successful encounter with the Curse of Milhaven was during Paul’s Metal Fest in August this year. Yeah, I said successful, as I had missed their performance at the Elpee in Deinze two weeks before that. They opened up for Dehuman and Vital Remains that night but I had kind of misread the time schedule on Facebook and arrived mere moments after they had finished playing. Anyway, The Curse of Milhaven was a very enjoyable band to see during the Paul gig (as well as all the other bands who were present there) and you all know what that means! After having plunged through some great Belgian thrash in the form of TurboWarrior of Steel and Malism, it’s time to add some Belgian death metal to the Shredder’s diet.

The Shredding Basics

Rock solid traditional death metal is the name of the game as Vestibule of Hell has everything a fan of the subgenre could wish for. The album has a very dark and brooding atmosphere with the slow and technical guitar riffs and the typical death metal growls and shrieks. Everyone on the album does a very good job in bringing the album to life. The guitar solos are excellent, the growls are convincing (especially in the third and seventh track of the album) and the drums and bass have a intense galloping sound, making me believe that these gallops actually represent the protagonist’s footsteps as he attempts to run away from the horrors of Hell. The album’s style and pace remains consistent throughout the album. I actually see Vestibule of Hell as one long track with one single theme. A theme which I’ll describe in more detail right about now…

The Park of Themes

If you’ve read Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy (the poem’s first volume, Inferno, to be precise) then the themes for this album will be familiar territory to you. The story told throughout Vestibule of Hell is about a Christian crusader who died in service to the church but, instead of going to Heaven, he wakes up in Hell and he’s forced to embark on a ghastly journey through the nine circles of Hell. The first nine songs on the album each represent one of Hell’s circles. Starting off with Paganism in the opening track and passing through lust, gluttony, greed, violence, heresy, corruption, fraud and finally treachery. The album’s final track, the instrumental Reditus, wraps up the album’s story rather ambiguously. Is the protagonist’s soul redeemed and sent to Heaven (hinted by the slower, more peaceful parts of the track) or did he become fully corrupted by Hell and turned into a servant of Lucifer (as the faster, heavier parts may refer to)? We’ll never know.

The Vision of Devastation

The album’s front cover shows a dark, hellish version of a medieval town surrounded by a river of blood. And, gazing towards the person brave enough to buy and/or play the album, is an evil looking, hooded figure (Charon, Hell’s ferryman, I presume) looking for the next dammed soul to help traverse across the river Styx. The inside cover has the songs’ lyrics written over one long, vertical page. Obviously referring to the descent through Hell depicted in their lyrics. The back cover has a basic close-up shot of the album’s lineup. One thing that gave me a good laugh is Jasper, the band’s vocalist, thanking Belgian schlager artists Luc Steeno, Eddy Wally and Bart Kaëll for lyrical inspiration! Never thought that these three singers had actually written tracks about death and misery. Some obscure bootleg tracks, perhaps!

The Sharpest Shred

My pick for this one goes to the album’s third track, Atrocious Conduct. This track is about gluttony and Jasper’s growling vocals give the song’s atmosphere a huge boost. I can already imagine him being a demon residing in gluttony and devouring all those damned souls residing in there. As for the runner-up, I’ll take the album’s final track, Reditus. As I already mentioned, it’s an instrumental track and you guys all know how much I love tracks where the instruments tell the story for themselves instead of relying on vocals.

The Shredder's Scoreboard

7,5 Judas kisses out of 10. The Curse of Milhaven’s Vestibule of Hell is a sweet album well worth checking out if you’re looking for some nice death metal. And now, dear reader, it’s your turn to pay the ferryman and join the damned for all eternity!

Now Bang Along

Here’s Simony, the eighth track of Vestibule of Hell.
Simony - Curse of Milhaven