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Antestor is a black metal band that has received some flak for having Christian lyrics. However, I believe in focusing more on the music than lyrics of image, so for the rest of this review I will try to avoid directly mentioning anything about their faith. It just detracts from the main subject, the music.
So although Antestor seems to be labeled as an (un)black metal band, this EP only has 2 black metal songs. The other 5 are largely piano based with some orchestral instrumentation thrown in for good measure. I'll be reviewing these two different types of song separately.
The Black Metal:
One thing that immediately becomes clear as you listen to the first song, Rites of Death, is that Antestor sounds a hell of a lot like Immortal, especially the album Battles in the North. However, it is unique enough that I wouldn't accuse Antestor of ripping of Immortal's style, or being unimaginative.
Anyways, the songs themselves are pretty excellent. The vocals are fantastic, the guitarwork is well played (pay attention to the solos), and the drumming is fantastic. That is no surprise, as Hellhammer is the one drumming here. The songs have good structure and fantastic varied riffs. There's also an occasional clean part, or maybe a short piano section. These work very well into the music, and don't feel out of place, which would have been an easy mistake. There's even some clean vocals, and they too work in well with the black metal. Overall, this is some very good black metal, showing plenty of variety and imagination.
An interesting thing about the black metal on here, is that it actually has a pretty slick production. This of course is not a typical thing in black metal. Most works in the genre sound very raw, and for a good reason. It's just what works with the style. Antestor on the other hand, sound pretty clear, and it actually works well with their style. It's one of the few times that a good clean production really enhances black metal.
The Piano Songs:
These songs don't emphasize so much on the dark and majestic feeling that the black metal songs had. Instead, you get a great feeling of sadness and sorrow. The music is simply haunting. That's the only way to describe it. Unfortunately, there is one thing that kinda ruins the whole atmosphere of it. The vocalist decides to talk during these songs about sadness, and even prays in Norwegian. Honestly, his voice just does not m match the atmosphere. He seems to be expressing a slightly different mood than what the songs are trying to express, which just breaks the beauty of these songs. I wish they had maybe has some actual good clean vocals, or maybe even figured out how to work screams into this.
However, despite any issues with the spoken parts, the piano tracks are still very good. The vocalist usually stays quiet anyways, giving you time to absorb the beautiful orchestration of the whole thing. It's certainly contrasts against the black metal on this album, and it kicks ass!
Now then, having said what I think about these two separate parts of the EP, what do I think of the whole thing overall? I think it's pretty awesome. The piano songs and black metal songs flow together well. My only issue is that I wish there had been more black metal on this album. Only 2 out of 5 songs are actual black metal. Still, the whole thing is one dark and extreme beauty. I highly recommend it.
Originally posted on (http://biedrikheaviness.blogspot.com/)
Most EPs seem like small insignificant afterthought of the band; this EP however couldn’t be further away from that. Even though it is only five songs it marks significant changes in Antestor’s lineup, sound, and label. The first song called ‘Rites of Death’ is very fast and energetic. One thing that is notice able about this song is that the guitar has more to offer than just a couple of riffs, there is actually a solo which really shows that this guitarist has skill. It really pisses me off how in most black metal bands the entire song is just based on a couple of riffs. Here one can see that the band is taking more into account than just the guitar to shape the whole song. The next song ‘Grief’ is a sad sounding song with just keyboard and vocals. This is, in my opinion, the worst song on the EP, I think it would have been better if it was an instrumental, I guess I just find this song strange. Most of the time I really don’t like keyboard tracks but the third song ‘Last Season’ is an exception. This shows that the keyboardist has skill and knows how much keyboards should be used in black metal because in the two BM songs on this EP it is hardly noticeable that there are keyboards used. The fourth song ‘Med Hevede Sverd’
is another black metal song with some good riffs and like ‘Rites of Death’ has some excellent guitar playing, however his song is more riff-based. The keyboard has more of a keyboard part in it but it is not overdone. The last song which is the title track for this album sounds like a mix between ‘Last Season’ and ‘Grief’ its not that bad.
On an overview, this EP is very well written and very underrated. This shows what Antestor was about to do in their 2005 full-length ‘The Forsaken’. More black metal bands should be like Antestor and concentrate more on songwriting and playing their instruments well than hating Christians/Jews/Muslims or what have you. Antestor is a great band and their full-length is well worth buying.
Best songs: Rites of Death, Last Season, Med Hevede Sverd
Antestor play Christian “black metal” (or “unblack” metal”), which is reason enough for most of their probably-intended audience to summarily reject them, possibly while falling out of their chairs laughing. The notion of a group of Christians embracing a musical aesthetic whose entire evolution has been motivated by a hatred for Christianity seems… peculiar… at best. But if I’m going to bother to review this EP at all, I might as well take the music at face value. If the concept of a Christian black metal band is too self-contradictory to hold water, the proof will be in the pudding, so to speak.
So what does the music actually sound like?
Pretty much like a “secular” band. That’s what I was anticipating, but the full reality of it didn’t sink in until I actually listened to the music. The first track, which is the best of the bunch, is mostly straight-up Norwegian black metal, sounding a little like Immortal circa Battles in the North to me. The production is very good – very clean but suitable for this form of music – and the band is technically adept. Session drumming is provided by no less than Hellhammer (hilariously enough), so obviously there’s no problem there. There’s some brief clean singing and some clean guitars, but overall, there’s really no way to overemphasize just how much like ordinary black metal this song sounds. It’s not fantastic or original by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s certainly very… competent. It’s utterly adequate. It's totally acceptable. It will, without a doubt, meet your absolute minimum expectations. I guess if the band's worst crime is aping a form of music they have no real grasp of, they're in the same boat as countless other "real" black metal bands, but nevertheless, this song is far from noteworthy.
The second track takes a severe turn for the worse. I think the best way to give the reader the gist of it would be to simply reproduce the lyrics in their entirety here:
Sometimes I cry in grief
Not for the dead that once surrounded me
Or for the sadness that comes to me
When I am lonely
But I cry
For those who have chosen a life without Christ
There are twelve months
Three hundred and sixty-five days a year
But it takes just one second to answer Him
And recieve eternal peace
Did you actually read all of that garbage or did you just quit out of boredom and disgust and skip ahead to this part of the review? If you can’t even stand to read those lyrics, imagine how horrible it would be to hear them read in a Norwegian accent in the most “melancholy” goth voice the singer can manage over a cheesy backdrop of synths and pianos right off of a new age relaxation tape. I’m convinced that making good music focused around a spoken word part is virtually untenable by definition, given how pretentious it inevitably sounds; doubly so for metal bands, given the fact that most metalheads have verbal skills roughly on par with a gorilla that’s been taught sign language; triply so when the lyrics rather unsubtly urge the listener to accept Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The incredible thing is that this song is actually even worse than I’m capable of describing in print. The band couldn’t possibly have done any worse if they’d deliberately set out to record something as aggravating as possible. Maybe Antestor were trying to give the unbeliever a taste of what Hell would be like, but if anything they went too far. Listening to this song will make an atheist of you: what kind of a God would allow this sort of abomination to exist?
Track three is in a similar vein, but at least there are no lyrics this time around. Skipping ahead, the fifth and final track is again all synth and pianos, this time with spoken word in Norwegian, which at least spares those of us who don’t speak the language the misery of listening to the vocalist mope about his omnipotent imaginary friend. If you haven’t been keeping track, this means that three out of the five tracks on this EP are neither metal nor the slightest bit good by the most creative stretch of the imagination.
Antestor did take the time to write one other metal song for this recording... well, sort of. The fourth song starts off mostly along the lines of the first, and then goes off the deep end into some unwelcome prog self-indulgence which has no apparent point in context. And in case you were worried there wouldn’t be enough maudlin synthesized piano parts on this album, there’s another one at the end of this song. Thank God!
I guess I would recommend this EP to two groups of people: 1) those who thought that the overwrought keyboard instrumentals on Dimmu Borgir’s Stormblåst were utterly brilliant and 2) those poor folks who are attracted to black metal’s extremity but wish the bands would write God-inspired lyrics and communicate (inculcate?) a more uplifting, Christ-based message. Now that I think about it, there’s probably a lot of overlap between those two groups. Well, you kids have fun, and God bless. If you’re not worried about the lyrics of the bands you listen to offending the all-powerful Creator of the universe whose existence must be accepted purely on faith, then you will probably not be interested in hearing this, as the quality varies between completely mediocre at best to embarrassingly stupid at worst.
But you probably could have figured that out for yourself, am I right?
I almost let this album lay on the table I saw it on, mistaking it for another one of Antestor's albums, but then I mate of mine pointed out it was their new EP with Hellhammer on the drums. This really got me interested. Without having listened to a single song and not knowing what to expect (Antestor sounds different on every album), and was not disappointed.
As a side note the first 1000 copies are in a limmited edition black heavy paper with the band logo embrossed in it, very nice, only few left already, and it hasn't even been out 4 months. I got that version for just 10 euro's at a festival before its official release date (they were selling some there as promo's)
Anyways, on to the music now. You can really notice that Hellhammer is behind the drum kit, they are very slick and tightly played. The production is far better than on the past few cd's (though it didn't bother me, and the good production only adds to it) If I had to discribe the music, the black metal songs would be somewhat like Dark Funeral (on their album 'The return of the black death' it was reminicent of early Satyricon, so you can see they change their sound from cd to cd )
The only critic I have on the cd is the ammount of black metal songs compared to the instrumental songs. There are two real black metal songs, and three instrumentals (two of them with parts spoken, one of them in English, one in Norwegian) The instumentals are good, but I was hoping for more bm.
Now on to the different songs
Rites of Death 9.5/10
Good Dark Funeral like song, starts of brutal, with great vocals (they have a new vocalist now) It has different breaks in it, and then goes back to full intencity, later on it gets a bit more melodic, and even one sentance sung normally. It ends brutal again.
Very good instrumental, the lyrics to this song would not appeal to atheist/satanists, because it's about that they are sad about the people who have chosen a life without god. It's done by keyboards, very soothing, yet has the sadness to it that Antestor is known for
Last Season 8/10
This one is a complete keyboard instrumental, it's nice, but it's not like great or anything. It's quite epic, but I wish they had done another bm song instead.
Med Heverde Sverd 9.0/10
This is the second black metal song, which is quite good with interesting vocal variation. This song goes back to more traditional Antestor sound as heard on 'The return of the black death', which means sad, a bit slower than Rites of Death, the song ends with piano.
Det Tapte Liv 9.5/10
A good closing song, with Norwegian spoken vocals, done with keyboard, nicely done though.
This EP really leaves me craving for the coming full length, which will have almost exclusively black metal songs on it from what I've heard, it has been comfirmed that only the song Rites of Death will be on full length from this EP, and in a different mix. Also another song that will be on full length which was on a compilation cd, and one of my favorite Antestor songs is Old Time's Cruelty. The full length digi-pack version from Endtime Productions will fit into the EP box, so it will form a complete set together, and I can't wait till it's released.