I love albums like these, you know, the kind that seemingly comes out of nowhere, takes over your CD player for days, and gnaws off your testicles in the process. Talk about a surprise! Anyway, enough with the anecdotes – let’s rock!
This is Iscariah’s (the fella who used to abuse the bass in IMMORTAL, among others) new band and it is a mighty good one at that. I guess the key to my liking this one so much rests on the fact that these guys display such a fine balance between their influences – the vocals are of the Black Metal variety, the riffs pummel you with that patented dark Death Metal sound, while the song tempos are squarely rooted in Thrash Metal. Come to think of it, this band comes across as mix between IMMORTAL (circa their “Damned In Black” / “Sons Of Northern Darkness” era), relentless and dirty Teutonic Thrash (a la early DESTRUCTION, KREATOR), and a supercharged DISMEMBER. If that recipe doesn’t make your ears tingle then there’s something amiss (possibly the part of your brain that determines good taste). So, Blackened Deathrash is the name of the game here, with that special Nordic vibe sprinkled on top as a bonus.
There’s little variety between the tracks but when they are delivered with such vigor as is evidenced here, quibbling over originality becomes pretty pointless. Proceedings get underway with “I, The Facilitator” and this one had me by the nads since the first second – the energy, aggression and deft songwriting is all on display here, and it never lets up. Elsewhere, “Night Of The Necromancer” is a gloriously frenetic KREATOR-like exercise in Deathrash, while the closer (“Hammer Of The Gods”) gives a nod to Black Metal with it’s hypnotic repetition and subtly epic vibe. Oh yes, also check out the latter half of “To Free Death Upon Them” for the dictionary definition of H.E.A.V.Y. Nice. I’ve never heard Iscariah’s vocals before but he does an outstanding job here with his delivery remaining constantly strong and aggressive all the way through (he sounds a bit like Abbath as well, big surprise…). The guitar tone, riffs and solos are also excellent for this style of Metal and I couldn’t be happier. Ex-GORGOROTH alum Kvitrafn is behind the kit here, pulling off a very varied and powerful performance. PS – every band that features this guy in their ranks just kicks serious amounts off ass…
Like I said, there is precious little in the way of all-out originality here but in terms of the context of the music these guys just pull it off better than 99% of the bands out there – not bad for a debut effort! All in all this is was a very satisfying listen and “First Strike For Spiritual Renewance” may just turn out to be the extreme Metal debut of the year. Horns up!!
(Online December 19, 2007)