Ah, the classic case of an old-school band reuniting to release new material. We metal fans have a love-hate (mostly hate) relationship with these situations; we want our old favorites to succeed, but time and time again we’ve been disappointed, and so our expectations are never actually that high.
However, the case of the Netherlands-based death metal act Centurian is different. When Centurian originally broke up in 2002, Rob Oorthuis continued to play death metal under the name Nox alongside vocalist/drummer Seth Van de Loo and, at different times, bassists Patrick Boleij and Oskar Van Paradijs, all of whom spent time in Centurian. In 2011, when Nox was placed on hold and Centurian was reactivated, the most recent lineup of Nox was preserved in Centurian, with the one open spot (at bass) being given to Boleij. In fact, if you believe the Nox page on Metal Archives, Centurian never actually broke up, but merely changed their name to Nox to reflect a change in musical direction.
Whatever the circumstances are, these are the facts: Centurian are back with Contra Rationem and they are playing the old-school-styled Morbid Angel-inspired death metal they played from 1997 to 2002, rather than the more technical (but still very Morbid Angel-esque) style they played from 2002 to 2011 as Nox. Therefore, we must ask ourselves this question: do they succeed at it? And we have answer: damn right they do.
As I stated earlier, Morbid Angel is the main point of comparison for Centurian’s sound, both on this album and their previous ones. There are Covenant riffs littered all over Contra Rationem, with some Mayhem-like black metal tinges that are particularly noticeable on the back half of the album. The band’s previous stint as Nox has also rubbed off on them, with some technical flourishes that recall 2007′s Ixaxaar, Nox’s only full-length album. These flourishes were also present to a degree on Centurian’s previous album, 2002′s Liber ZarZax, but there it felt like it was still developing, whereas here it feels more like the fully-matured technicality found on Ixaxaar retroactively applied to Centurian’s older sound.
2013 is already turning out to be a good year for death metal fans, and Centurian have made it better with Contra Rationem. The album comes out January 28th and can currently be preordered from Listenable Records in both CD and vinyl formats.