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Overrated but still an excellent release - 90%

thejoker, July 26th, 2011

Aside from Horde's "Hellig Usvart", this particular album seems to have garnered a reputation as being the unblack metal album to get. Sadly, by the time of this writing, it is no longer in print - it would be nothing short of a miracle to find it now.

Nonetheless, consider this masterwork of Antestor's to be the complete opposite of that other landmark unblack album mentioned above. Instead of white noise and cavernous production, what we are presented with is an album of epic scope, melodic and vicious all at the same time.

Sound-wise, I would compare the album to Dissection's sound on "Storm of the Light's Bane", with a bit of Dimmu and Emperor symphonics, as well as some folk influences mixed in as well. The Dissection influence is throughout, and for me, this is a major plus - "Storm of the Light's Bane" is a masterpiece, so to have something similar that is also Christian is a Godsend.

That said, the album is somewhat overrated. It begins in massive form - medieval sounding female vocals introduce the brutal track, "Rites of Death", which pummels the listener into absolute submission, before arguably the best track on the album, "Old Times Cruelty", kicks in. Hellhammer of Mayhem fame's drumming really shines here - precision blastbeats interlaced with skilled percussion work and cymbal touches all combine for a perfect listening experience.

The problem is that these flawless tracks seem to go downhill from there, in very slight degrees. It's not that any track on this fantastic disc is necessarily bad per se, it's just that after the astonishing first two tracks, the album slowly lets the listener back down to earth. It's like seeing heaven and having to go back down to earth. And the epic power metal-style solos on the latter half of the album get to be a little bit much. They have their niche in melodic black metal, yes, but sometimes Antestor veers a little too into stadium-rock territory near the end of the album.

Those minor flaws aside, one can do no wrong in acquiring this disc - it's fantastic from beginning to end (though it has its ups and downs, relatively speaking). The musical skill on display here is top notch, the vocals are primal and savage cries, and when the band gets nasty, they get NASTY. For melodic black metal, there are few albums out there as good as this one; for Christian black metal fans, it's a must, and by far surpasses the band's earlier efforts.

We can only hope they reprint this classic.