Challenger Deep - III. The Path

It has been a long nine years, but Belarus’ Challenger Deep have finally put out album no. 3 with “The Path.” For those not familiar with this rather underground but talented band, they perform a mix of Sludge, Doom, Post, and even Black Metal, offering up some rather lengthy, but tasteful tracks. Nine years is a bit of a stretch to wait for an album, but the results are well worth the wait. For those who know of Challenger Deep, the roster of musicians has held up since the last release, and the music/ album is tighter and a little more restrained compared to the sophomore effort, but things are still tastefully chaotic and melodic. The track titles are still rather ambiguous and obscure with single words, but the music itself certainly conveys the words as best they can. Some tracks are dissonant and twisted with some hints of melody such as ‘Indifference’ that feature Industrial elements mixed with some elements of Shoegaze Black such as Deafheaven, and others are more melancholic and dramatic- almost Gothic Doom like Draconian- such as ‘Filth.’ But, one thing Challenger Deep does well is never really stick to one genre throughout an entire track.

The vocals are the strongest point of the album- focusing mostly on that Post Metal mix of Hardcore based shouts mixed with a Metalcore scream from Anton Bondarenko. He puts a lot of emotion into his voice, and it especially can be heard on the opening track ‘Sacrifice.’ Guitars are handled by Alexander and Anton Berezovsky, who play off each other well enough for a mix of anything from the faster chaotic to the more Progressive/ Post elements such as on the track ‘Joy.’ Both Antons are in a group called Leprethere which is more of a Progressive Metal band, so the elements from that seem to blend over into Challenger Deep. Bass is a bit lost in the mix of tracks, save for ‘Filth,’ from Evgeny Danilov, but his extra layers help boost the drums from Sergey, who shows his best performance on the track ‘Passion’ with his furious patterns. This is one of the faster and shorter tracks on the album, leaning more towards the Black Metal elements and away from the slower more Sludge/ Post moments, but it shows that Challenger Deep can be more than mournful or morose.

Those looking for a bit more groove or rhythm will enjoy ‘Confidence’ which has a bit more playful, almost Sludge n’ Roll tone compared to the others. It still has the slower, more shrill Black Metal parts, but overall from the churning guitar rhythms and lack of atmospheric openings (compared to a track like ‘Filth’) this is certainly one of the heavier ones. Overall, compared to the last release some fans will notice the shortened tracks (no 10 minute epics here) but like their debut album sometimes less is more. “III” is certainly angrier and heavier, omitting the past clean vocal and piano passages that were used and opts for some of the heavier elements of the genres they mix, but it is good to see them take the aggressive side more. While not as melodic and progressive as past work, one who likes their Black or Post or Sludge Metal a bit rougher with some melodic interludes or intros and overall just a strong deliverance of loud will find “III” vibrant, heartfelt, and worth the lengthy wait. Those who want the softer side can revisit “Irreversible” from 2014, but those who want to feel the rage and the melancholy will bang their heads to “III. The Path.” New fans will probably want to check out both albums to experience both sides of the band.

4 / 5 STARS

1. Sacrifice
2. Filth
3. Passion
4. Confidence
5. Indifference
6. Joy

Reviewer: Colin McNamara
Feb 29, 2024
Next review: Nar - Pejabat Bangsat

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