Far be it for me to extol a narrow-minded ‘purist’ viewpoint on all things Black Metal, but I have to say that the mental scars inflicted upon me by HECATE ENTHRONED’s early albums have yet to fully heal. The incredibly shrill rasps, facepalm-inducing ‘vampyric’ lyrics and keyboard-laden pomposity of albums like “The Slaughter of Innocence: A Requiem for the Mighty” and “Dark Requiems… and Unsilent Massacre” really did not endear them to me. “Kings of Chaos” saw a significant overhaul of their sound as they adopted a more Death Metal influenced style, which remained unchanged on 2004’s “Redimus”. “Virulent Rapture” is their first collection of material in nine years, and sadly nothing much has changed in the HECATE ENTHRONED camp.
Sure, I infinitely prefer the Death/Black aesthetic of “Redimus” to the unimaginative CRADLE OF FILTH exploits of yore, but I really would have liked to hear them exploring some new musical ground on here, especially considering the long delay that had preceded this album’s release. They opted to play it safe, however, and the result is an album that, while tightly played and requisitely aggressive, essentially sounds like a B-grade LORD BELIAL or TEMPLE OF BAAL rip-off. The Black Metal influence is perhaps more tangible on this album than on its two immediate predecessors, with “Thrones of Shadows” and “Paths of Silence” being vicious yet ultimately vacuous examples of Blackened Death Metal (a style that, if we’re going to be honest, hasn’t really evolved at all over the past decade or so).
Most tracks whizz by without leaving much of an impression, but there are a few choice cuts on display throughout the album. “Unchained” has a strong rhythmic dynamic to it that hints at Groove without going overboard, the blistering title track could give BEHEMOTH a run for their money and the somewhat slower “Of Witchery and the Blood Moon” is richly atmospheric (thanks in no small part to the effective interplay between acoustic guitar, moody keyboards and subtle tempo shifts). They’re definitely capable of writing some nifty tunes, but they don’t do it consistently and effectively enough. A large chunk of the middle part of the album consists of nothing but trite Black/Death that doesn’t break any new ground, and at almost an hour the album inevitably drags in places. It’s not the worst example of this style, I suppose, but I can’t help but feel that it would have been much more effective as a 3 or 4 track EP.
(Online December 11, 2013)