Pact- The Dragon Lineage of Satan

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Sunday, March 30, 2014

With the sheer quantity of metal that is sent my way, it can be hard to keep up with all of the noteworthy releases and albums occasionally fall through the cracks. One effort that I missed back in 2012 was The Dragon Lineage of Satan, the debut full length from U.S. black metal band Pact. With the release of their second album The Infernal Hierarchies, Penetrating the Threshold of Night approaching, now seemed like a good time to dive into both discs and see what the group had to offer. It didn’t take long for The Dragon Lineage of Satan to leave an impression, and if you’re a fan of black metal that takes a good deal of influence from the second wave sound this one is a mandatory listen.

There are so many black metal albums that start off with lengthier intros and atmospheric build-ups that I often find it a nice change of pace when a band launches right into their assault. Pact utilizes this approach, as opening track “Litany to Satan” starts off with fast paced, chaotic riffs that immediately bring some of the better bands from the second wave of black metal to mind. There’s a familiar feel to what the instrumentals offer throughout the album, as they attack the listener with noisy, layered riffs that create a murkier atmosphere. Although the sound quality has a bit more clarity and it is easier to pick out some of the bursts of melody when compared to the bands Pact is channeling, there is still enough of a harsh edge to give off that violent, unrelenting feel that I look for in this genre. What stood out the most about The Dragon Lineage of Satan was the way the instrumentals were consistently able to capture the unrelenting nature of the genre while still offering distinguishable riffs. There are quite a few U.S. black metal acts that have been able to capture the chilling, violent nature of the European bands but often don’t have the substance to back it up, but Pact has plenty of specific moments that continue to stand out to me. Admittedly the last couple of songs do blur together a bit and do follow some similar patterns, but the strength of the release as a whole has made it worth returning to on a regular basis.

The instrumental work may have made a strong first impression, but it was Hag’s vocals that sold me on this album early on. His main pitch is a higher pitched scream that has a significant amount of distortion and often sounds like it is going to tear your speakers apart. Pact could’ve easily stuck with this range for the entire release, but they switch things up on a regular basis and move between these higher screams and guttural growls. On the song “Dreamless Death” the high screams near the end remind me of Anaal Nathrakh, as there’s a similar amount of rawness to the performance. No matter which range he goes for, Hag is able to match and sometimes surpass the intensity of the instrumental arrangements which helps to make some of these songs downright overwhelming at times.

It may start to sound a bit similar towards the end, but The Dragon Lineage of Satan is still one hell of a release. Pact makes a strong first impression and is not only able to capture the cold, violent nature of European black metal but does it without sounding like a mere copy of what has come before. This is definitely a release that I overlooked upon its original release, and I’m interested in seeing if the band can recapture the thick atmosphere and violent sound they achieved on this debut.

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