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Azarath is a death metal band that has elements of black metal thrown into their songs. Their latest effort, Blasphemers' Maledictions, is more of a blackened death metal album. The new vocalist/bassist/guitarist (Necrosodom) has offered quite the overall change in sound to Azarath, having quite similar vocals to Mortuus from Marduk, but better and stronger. This 'blackens' the sound considerably, along with the dramatic change in riffs and recording quality. This all being said, this album is damn awesome.
The intro to Blasphemer's Maledictions is Arising the Black Flame, basically introducing you to the new vocalist since Bruno left. Both vocalists are good, but Necrosodom is more proficient and original. The riffs on this album are interesting and new. They are catchy and heavy with lots of lead and solos. Inferno's drumming is as good as ever, with a drum recording reminiscent of the Apostasy by Behemoth. The bass, as about as inaudible as ever still has its place. The recording of this album is much better than the well... lame recording of Praise the Beast, which was quite a disappointing album after the immense brutality and chaos of Diabolic Impious Evil. Blasphemers' Maledictions does not bring back the chaos and insanity, but has new traits of thrashy, more blackened riffs and vocals.
The solos are somewhat more coherent on this album and depart from the Bathory/Darkthrone chaos solos to more Behemoth like ones. The album is quite fast paced, but has a lot of variation in speed, which is always good for keeping it interesting.
Standout tracks - Crushing Hammer of the Antichrist, Behold the Satan's Sword, Holy Possession.
What the fuck is going on in Poland?! I can only assume that the water supply has been tainted with the blood of Lucifer, because the country is responsible for some of 2011′s gnarliest metal albums. The likes of Stillborn, Vader and Iperyt have all managed to rip my head off repeatedly this year, but there is one band among their Polish brethren that blows them all out of the water. That band is Azarath. Blasphemers’ Maledictions is their fifth album, and I’m quite ashamed to admit that it’s also my first exposure to them. But after listening to this recording thoroughly and repeatedly, I can tell you that you needn’t be familiar with their back catalog in order to know that Azarath is creating some of the most devastating (not to mention most addictive) black/death metal out there today.
Featuring Behemoth’s Inferno behind the drum kit, Azarath might not be as well-known as his day job, but calling the band a “side project” is to do them a great disservice. In fact, Blasphemers’ Maledictions easily out-guns and out-classes the last few Behemoth albums on both a musical and conceptual level. Azarath don’t need faux-Cenobite costumes or videos full of bloody, naked trollops feeling themselves up in order to get their point across; they rely on sheer ferocity, heaviness and craftsmanship (does that word pop up in every review I write, or what?), combined with a lyrical approach that serves as a highly blasphemous call to arms against the putrid Abrahamic faiths.
Blasphemy is an important component of both black and death metal, but in the case of Azarath (as well as other Polish metal bands), it’s interesting to examine what stokes these anti-religious fires. According to Wikipedia, 88.4% of Poland’s population belongs to the Catholic Church (as of 2007). This may go a long way towards explaining the fervor with which Azarath assaults the almighty on Blasphemers’ Maledictions. Lyrics such as “Spit at the face of the creator of falseness / Piss on the cross, reject the trinity of merciful cunts / Blaspheme the pitiful son of the whore” don’t leave much to the imagination. As a Catholic school survivor, I can identify with the desire to defy and condemn when faced with a majority that wants to literally shove the “body of Christ” down your throat and wash it down with his “blood”. The band attacks their chosen subject matter with an OTT bloodthirstiness that I can’t help but find commendable.
Azarath backs up their lyrical violence against Christ with music that’s equally eviscerating. Imagine the twisted, tangled, heaving riffage of Morbid Angel (prior to them turning into a sub-Marilyn Manson shit-fest, of course) being gang-raped by the pure fucking armageddon of De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas-era Mayhem and you’re getting close. Add in the relentless, pummeling attack that Vader and Behemoth employed in order to put Polish death metal on the map, and you’ve got a pretty complete picture of where Azarath are coming from. All of this is wrapped in an atmosphere that recalls the blackened orthodoxy of early Watain and Deathspell Omega. Each of the album’s ten proper tracks has its own character and displays a compositional deftness and understanding of dynamics that puts Azarath leagues ahead of just about any contemporary metal band you could name.
The above analysis still doesn’t manage to do justice to the jaw-dropping craftsmanship displayed on Blasphemers’ Maledictions. On second thought, fuck “jaw-dropping”, Azarath rips your jaw out of your skull, stomps it into dust and sets the dust on fire, leaving you utterly speechless. The album exemplifies everything I look for in extreme metal and is as close to perfection as I’ve heard in a long time. Azarath haven’t just set the bar for black/death metal in 2011, they’ve fucking smashed it to bits, creating a timeless work that should firmly enthrone them amongst the ranks of the elite.
Originally written for http://thatshowkidsdie.com
With a brand new label and some changes in the lineup, Poland's black/death metal legends Azarath returns this year with their brand new offering, Blasphemers' Maledictions. Unlike it's predecessors, Blasphemers' Maledictions presents to fans of Azarath a new direction, already evident from the album artwork, a departure from the previous black-and-white themed album artworks.
Azarath's previous output, Praise the Beast failed to catch my attention as it has always came across to me as overly lacking in the speed department, especially considering the member handling the drums, Inferno, and his works on Behemoth, and the somewhat boring song structures. Right from the get go on Blasphemers' Maledictions though, all such prior impressions are broken down as the band seems to be high on speed this time, with most of the tracks on the album travelling at breakneck speed, leaving listeners with little time to breathe at all.While the opening/intro track Arising the Black Flame seemed redundant, running at only 4 seconds, it is certainly a welcome move since it means less bullshit and a straight cut to the chase to the main onslaught of the album.
As Supreme Reign of Tiamat begins the album proper, the listener is immediately thrown into a myriad of double-bass pedalled drumming and chaotic riffs, sounding like a mix of fellow Polish bands such as Behemoth and Infernal War, with the speed and intensity of both bands combined. Bassist/vocalist Necrosodom (also of Anima Damnata) makes his debut full length appearance and the difference in the vocal approach is obvious; unlike previous vocalist Bruno who preferred a low-pitched growl, Necrosodom here makes use of a more barbaric style, bringing in a fresh sound to the band with him. At times he almost sounds like Marduk's Mortuus, further enforcing the black metal aspects of the band and this is certainly a welcome move. There is an overall marked increase in the focus on the speed and technicality in the music, with guitarist Bart providing some of the most technical solos and riffing on top of the punishing pounding on the skins by Inferno. Bart also alternates between these shred-fests and soaring solos, ensuring that things are kept interesting throughout. The soaring solos above the chaos below once again brings to mind bands like Infernal War.
While the overall intensity and speed of the album has increased, the band has not forsaken the dark aspects of the music that was present on prior albums. For example, Firebreath of Blasphemy and Scorn had a somewhat dark mood throughout the track, and draws further comparisons with their countrymen with the fusion of black metal trem-picked and crushing death metal riffs. The band also displays variation in their songwriting style on slower tracks such as Under the Will of the Lord, which is perhaps one of the heaviest and most intense number on the album. There is also a certain desolation on the riffs towards the end of Deathstorms Raid the Earth, proving that these Poles are capable of emotions as well. Also, despite the 45 minute run time, the speed that the band travels at ensures that there is not a single moment wasted, and the album all ends in the blink of an eye.
Blasphemers' Maledictions is a display of what Azarath are worthy and capable of, and while this change in direction may alienate fans (though I fail to see why that should be the case), this is certainly a welcome move personally, and for speed-starved maniacs. If you liked the Holy Possession EP, Blasphemers' Maledictions would definitely be one hell of a ride.
Try and envision a world in which Deicide wrote much better music than they normally do, and incorporated Polish strength blasting and a bit more flashy, thrashing aggression in addition to splitting the layered vocals down to just growls and snarls (and usually not at the same time). This is a world Azarath not only have envisioned, but have manifest into reality for 13 years and five full-lengths, the latest of which is Blasphemers' Maledictions, a brutal execution of dead center production values and rampant, neck snapping anger which leaves but the chalk outlines of corpses in its wake. This would be enough as is, for most folks, and yet they've also seen fit to pen riffs that are actually worth a damn.
Azarath are essentially something akin to a burst of machine gun fire given flesh and sentience and then reared on classics like Legion, Altars of Madness, Covenant and The IVth Crusade, and they enforce such an unholy union with the tireless exertion of well oiled clockwork. They don't write 'interesting' metal, but what they do write is sheer, muscular punishment which gets by on its physical prowess alone. There are intricate compositional choices running through tracks like "Crushing Hammer of the Antichrist" or "Behold the Satan's Sword", but these tend to manifest in steady streams of rapid fire mutes that cascade off in rhythmic accordance to the insane blast work of mainstay Inferno, or against the cyclic melodies that the guitars cast into the necrotic atmosphere for an added layer of depth. In fact, all of the musicians are insane, with the possible exception of the bass, which is present, but often drowned by the frenetic beats and riffs.
Even the lead shredding is mature, methodic and melodic, never wasted on needless squandering of resources, but fitting fully into each precise, hammering edifice like...again...clockwork. But wait, there is more! Blasphemers' Maledictions, as forceful as it stands, also offers a fair share of variation, like the creepy and wide open intro to "Under the Will of the Lord" or the even more hyper-spastic velocity of "Holy Possession". The only real negatives might be that the album can become exhausting in short order...even just THINKING about how much energy is asserted; or the fact that, while percussive and efficient enough for the music, I do often wish that there was more atmosphere to the vocals. Sometimes they'll lay on a growl with some reverb, but I just want this to happen more...the majority of Necrosodom's barking seems all too typical for most death or black metal acts with higher budgets.
Those quips aside, though, Azarath's newest is a block busting spectacle of which proves once again where the world's masters of extremity belong, and fans of other blackened death acts from Poland (Behemoth, Hate, etc) might wish to make this a mandatory purchase.
I have never really been impressed with Azarath and their previous work. I am not really a stickler for tightness or excellent production, but the band's previous work felt sloppy and uninspired. Obviously, worshiping at the altar of Angelcorpse, Azarath were just never on my radar.
But Blasphemers' Maledictions has changed my mind on this band for good. Stylistically, this is still very much in the vein of Angelcorpse at their most inhuman, but Azarath have become an incredibly tight and somewhat technical extremely violent blackened death metal machine. The production is perfect: every single instrument sounds fantastic with a nasty buzz saw guitar tone and perfectly performed drumming driving each song at a blistering pace.
The one thing that stands out the most to me is that Blasphemers' Maledictions is fucking fast. Despite its plentiful track list and 45 minute running time, this album goes by fast and packs dozens of riffs into tight, brutal packages. The vocals are also fantastic: manic, inhuman screams and growls loaded with blasphemy providing plenty of darkness to some already evil sounding stuff.
"Deathstorms Raid The Earth" is the perfect example of what this album has to offer: alternates between head-spinning speed and nasty mid-paced sections as mad vocals soar over the brutality. There is even a snippet of melody that shows its face if only for a fleeting moment, but it is extremely tasteful. Blasphemers' Maledictions is loaded to bursting with tracks just like it, making it without a doubt one of the most enjoyable listens I have had all year. It is almost completely devoid of anything resembling originality here: if you loved Exterminate or Blessed Are The Sick, you will enjoy this quite a bit. Don't come in expecting your perspective on death metal to change forever, but any real fan of death metal is going to enjoy something like this. Meat and potato brutality for your death metal cravings.