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“Ov Tentacles and Spirals” is the second full length album from the Italian blackened death metal powerhouse, Azrath-11. Boasting current Naer Mataron drummer and busybody, Asmodeus Draco Dux, who has been associated with countless other metal acts, as well as current and former members of some relatively underground bands, Azrath-11 has the talented membership needed to succeed in this age’s blackened death metal field. With acts like Behemoth currently dominating the market with their somewhat modernized brand, Azrath-11 creeps in and shows the old stalwarts that a little old school flair never hurts.
The entire album is fast paced, with only slight lulls in the rapid fire delivery. There are tempo and timing changes throughout, but it usually involves the guitars switching from fast paced trem lines into fast paced, chunky riffing. Speaking of guitar lines, Azrath-11’s style of guitar riffing sounds like a mixture of standard Floridian death metal combined with the blackened approach of Behemoth or Belphegor. At times there are fast paced trem lines out of the wazoo, but the band seems more comfortable with the chunky riffing that wanders the fret board with little extrapolations thrown in. It’s a blazing fast affair, especially when coupled with the nonstop double bass runs and tittering cymbal work. These fast, triggered double bass runs sound a little plastic, but the somewhat hollow sound keeps it from feeling too mechanical.
Even with all of the ferocity and nonstop speed, there is a very melodic undertone at times. The riffs, aside from being catchy, build into some melodic passages, like on “Maelstrom Descent” and “Let the Realms Rise”, where the guitars lose distortion and twine along. Other sections see a little Thrash input, including the licks over main riffs at the beginning of “Domination ov the Streams”. These melodic moments are short lived, as Azrath-11 doesn’t leave things in neutral for very long. Mentioning the catchiness of the album, the chunky, heavy riffing has enough hooks and slight groove to it to keep any head banging. There are some passable lead lines, like at the middle of “Sunset ov the Abysmal Embrace”, but they lack confidence to make them stand out further than a passing nod.
The vocals sound a lot like standard tech-death bands, with a deep throaty shout. Much like Decapitated (think “Nihility”), the vocals do become a little tiring by the end of the album, mainly because of the one dimensional approach. Don’t get me wrong, the vocals are solid, but by the end of the album they become a little stale. On a different note, I’m not sure where these background vocals came from. Most of the tracks have a part with some guy doing his best Chuck Billy impression in the background. Although it doesn’t sound terribly forced, it really sounds out of place with the band’s version of blackened death metal.
Nothing on “Ov Tentacles and Spirals” is new or groundbreaking by any stretch of the imagination: not the music; not the instrumentation; not the production. The entire production screams old school, especially the chunky yet endearingly hollow sound of the drums. While it does have an old school feel to it, the music itself has some modern edges, including the Behemoth inspired riffing and the plastic feel of the triggered drums. Finishing off with a cover of Morbid Angel’s “God ov Emptiness” is just a little icing on the cake. Azrath-11’s sophomore effort is a high quality effort that should please fans of polished blackened death metal while retaining an old school feel. If that sounds like your cup of tea, then by all means find it.
Written for The Metal Observer: