It certainly is a treat to have this blasphemic Dutch horde back in action. Their 9-year hiatus created a void in the Death Metal world that Severe Torture just couldn’t fill. For those unfamiliar, Centurian rose to power in 1997 after the fall of Inquisitor, but their reign was all too brief. Only a classic debut EP (Of Purest Fire), a flawless debut LP (Choronzonic Chaos Gods) and its somewhat inferior follow-up (Liber Zar Zax) comprised their discography until now. While an 11-year gap between release dates would surely alter the sonic DNA of lesser bands, I’m pleased to report that this quartet hasn’t missed a step. The old vibe is alive and well, as Contra Rationem successfully sounds like the album they should have made after Chaos Gods. No surprise, really, considering this is essentially that same founding core. The only exception being the absence of original drummer Wim Van Der Valk, whose place oddly enough has been taken by original vocalist Seth Van de Loo, whose place has been taken by Prostitute Disfigurement vocalist Niels Adams. Honestly, if I hadn’t looked, I probably wouldn’t have even realized it, because the sound and approach feel so much like the old days. Morbid Angel has always been a major influence on Centurian —in fact, the band won many a Metalhead over with their ripping cover of “Blasphemy”— and on cue the opening Azagthothesque riffcraft and Sandovalian blastfest of “Thou Shalt Bleed for the Lord Thy God” are quick to remind us of this pleasant fact. This album is a half-hour of relentless brutality so swift and punishing that it crushes the listener into a fine mist. So much Satanic fury and virtuoso musicianship, it’s like getting beat up by Deicide, Angelcorpse, and Hate Eternal in an alley. My only complaint is that it’s over too damn soon! By the time the ash settles from the blastbeat inferno of “Adversus,” you’re already jonesing for that next Brunelle lead fix. Hopefully we won’t have to wait another decade for it.
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