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Review: Tetelestai, Crvsh Svtvn (Self-Released, 2017)

Taking their name from the Greek word for "it is finished," Tetelestai is a somewhat mysterious duo from Omaha, NE that formed all the way back in 2010 and worked on Crvsh Svtvn—their debut EP—for quite some time. They've published no music online beyond this relatively brief preview clip, but I can assure you that their battering brand of "metalcore" (in a good way) would have been a perfect fit for the Solid State Records roster of the early- to mid-2000s—bringing with it a late-'90s Hydra Head vibe for good measure.

Each song features a guest vocal spot from a rather notable contributor. "The Dead We Do Not Mourn" (featuring Sean Ingram from Coalesce) layers in drums, then guitar, then bass for a rhythmically churning groove that becomes choppier and more abrasive over time—breaking into some looser, noisier textures and excellently warped chord bends that create a unique sense of unease. "A Proper Exorcism // True Grit" (featuring Spitfire's Matt Beck) takes that even farther with crazy, warbled-sounding hammer-on/pull-off riffs, hard-hitting percussion, and more of a grinding scrape to some of the picking patterns before offering a quick fit of southern-tinged sludge toward the end. "Preeminence Of" (featuring Darren Johnson from Living Sacrifice) utilizes a slower-paced churn, again with an assortment of slightly odd arrangements and rhythmic shifts to keep you guessing. The end of the track just barely starts to hint at an industrial type of feel, and given the oppressive intensity of Tetelestai's approach, I'd be quite curious were that angle explored further. The download card includes a bonus fourth track, "There is Only Light Where You Are," which is a stripped down atmospheric piece consisting of choral vocal drones and ambient hums.

The production is damn solid. On its own, the gritty bass tone sounds great, but the guitars are so freakin' huge that they do tend to devour the bass a bit when the duo is crankin' full-on. (According to the credits, both the guitars and bass were recorded with the same instrument—a six-string Gibson Invader—so that may have something to do with it, too?) There's some degree of an HM-2 type of bite to the distortion, but the guitars are so detuned and dense that they near the point of overload at times, which is cool because they never actually fall off the cliff. It's definitely a professional sound, there's just a bit of room for improvement with regard to the mix. It's hard to compete with the massiveness of the guitars, but I do dig the fact that there's still a spaciousness to everything despite the sheer force of the guitar presence.

The EP is housed in a simple, nice-looking, predominantly black and white sleeve with a lyric insert. They're obviously a christian group, but as an irreligious listener myself, I appreciate that the content is not particularly alienating. Even the aspects that I don't personally agree with are well-composed. Some bands of this nature can get a little too… I don't know, "sappy," maybe? But that's not the case here. The dark aggression of the music aptly carries over into the lyrics as well:

Go back to where you came from and don't return.
They speak in subtleties.
Not spoken words you can outright deny.
I'll have no more of this.
This is where I draw the line.
You have no place to speak.
No authority…

Tetelestai seems to have made some waves relatively quickly since the release of this EP in December, so it will be interesting to see where they go from here. The 7" is a bit pricey, but they are limited to 250 hand-numbered copies on clear vinyl; and given the level of time, effort, and mystique involved, I would suspect the record to go out of print at some point in the not-too-distant future…

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