Album Reviews

Centuries – Taedium Vitae

(Southern Lord) UK release date: 5 August 2013

Centuries - Taedium Vitae Taedium Vitae translates from Latin as “tired of life”, which is something of a depressing title from a band as young as Centuries. But when you’re playing a mix of blistering hardcore and metal, it wouldn’t do to be happy with your lot.

Unsurprisingly, Centuries’ debut album is a white hot charge of unbridled rage and aggression, which suggests that although they may well be tired of life, they’ve no intention of going quietly. If anything this is a record designed, musically at least, to invigorate and shake any notions of apathy until they are nothing more than dust on the wind. The song titles, on the other hand, when translated suggest that this is a band concerned with the bleaker aspects of existence – Tragedy Begins, Served, Blue, Destroyed, Void…

From start to finish the whole album is only 20 minutes long, and it’s less a collection and more a singular statement of intent. The songs form a cohesive barrage of anger as they slip seamlessly into one another. Incipit Tragoedia (Tragedy Begins) opens the album with a slow low end swell which grows heavy with intent as feedback and clanging guitar chords enter the fray. As a growing sense of claustrophobia builds Centuries segue seamlessly into the explosive bolt of Caeruleus. A heads down, no holds barred hardcore thrash that only offers any respite when it concludes with a slow paced breakdown steeped in creeping dynamics and unease.

From there they move into the rumble of Gelu, one of the definite highlights of the album. Marginally less aggressive than the songs that surround it, it’s a barrel rolling stomp with a bloody vocal hook that digs deep and refuses to let go. A raw, howled vocal line of “I can’t feel anything” over relentless riffing (not unlike Kvelertak) pinpoints the numb disillusionment at the heart of the album whilst offering something to cling onto in the roaring cacophonous storm. Pessum Ire (Destroyed) displays the band’s ability to switch from all out bombast to melodic breaks all played out over a mix of d-beat and blastbeats all of which is certainly impressive. However, it is Centuries’ use of dynamics that make Taedium Vitae such an incredible album. Tabeo (Thaw) for example breaks from the thrashing hardcore deployed elsewhere and lays down a droning thrum populated only by a spoken word track and a rolling drum track, both of which are drowned out by the swarm of feedback and noise. If there’s any sense to be made out of it all, it’s that it all has “damn little meaning”.

From Tabeo the band catapult into the bass heavy Grave Cordibus (Heavy Hearts), an unrelenting blast of angst that is nonetheless still peppered with smart melodic guitar work that tugs at the heart whilst the drumming punches the gut repeatedly. The closing track Irrita (Void) finds the band at their most consistent. A wall of bass heavy noise (provided by insane amounts of reverb) provides the canvas behind the main riffs and hammered drums, making the song feel almost fit to burst. It’s less of a void and more of a swollen, pus filled sore. Vocally, it’s beyond raw and it’s easy to imagine there was blood dripping from the microphone at the end of the recording sessions. Taedium Vitae is a short but sharp shock; Centuries may be tired of life, but this album is proof that there’s still plenty to be thankful for.

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Centuries – Taedium Vitae