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The Darkness has entered - 90%

JJM1, January 28th, 2014

From Tampere, Finland comes Baptism and their fourth and most recent effort, 'As the Darkness Enters.' Seen mainly as the solo project of Lord Sargofagian whom has history with notable bands, such as; Behexen and Uncreation's Dawn as well as lesser known entities like, Trotzreich, Black Death Ritual and Calvarium -- He is however joined by a full line-up and a host of guest musicians on this outing. All four records have also been released via Northern Heritage Records, which is a bastion of quality in the black metal universe.

From the get go the 'Introduction' draws the listener into a world of gloom and wickedness as discordant distant voices and ominous synth notes guide me directly into 'Bringer of Misery.' This being my first experience with the band it becomes obvious enough that Baptism bares similarities to other Finnish cult black metal acts, such as, Horna, Behexen and Sargeist through their raw tones, mid-paced to speedy pacing, occasionally melodic structures and a true journey through crepuscule depravity.

The aforementioned 'Bringer of Misery' is a boisterous piece of black metal filled with stunning riffs, grimly delivery vocals (also briefly spoken) and exceptional drumming, whereas 'Chalice of Death' is more high octane and hard hitting with a sense of thrashiness as its back bone. 'The Prayer' although unleashing in a similar manner at the onset the song eventually becomes increasingly melancholic and slower in pace with some creeping bass licks making their presence well known. The highlight of the song being the cleanly sung parts performed by Mynni "Infection" Luukkainen, which are both haunting and beautiful whilst paired with the depressing keyboards and the riff that follows them it makes for an overwhelming piece of music. Just outstanding. 'Sieluni Temppeli' is the only song sung in Finnish, but its also a memorable one with its epic structure and sense of passion it sticks out amongst the others. The remaining three songs are all above average as well with very little if anything being weak on this record.

With 'As the Darkness Enters' being my first foray into the world and mind of Lord Sargofagian and Baptism I've constantly found this record to be steller and amongst one of the best from last year. If you've somehow overlooked this band I'd have to only suggest rectifying that situation as soon as possible.

Originally wrote for, Lunar Hypnosis:

Baptism – As The Darkness Enters - 80%

Asag_Asakku, November 23rd, 2012

In the beginning, three tribes inhabited the vast frozen northern landscapes. The first lived along endless fjords, constantly swept by wind and rain; the second lived by the sea and made sacrifices in the name of terrible bloody infernal gods; and the third one prefered lakes and forests, separated from the other two by an incomprehensible language. Each of these tribes had developed its own rituals, with particular themes. Nature, cold and death for one; demons, blood and suffering for the other; black magic, shamanism and occultism for the last. Passage of time gradually faded the original differences, but their essence remained.

This allegory came to my mind when I discovered Finnish band Baptism’s new album. Even after all these years of listening to black metal, stylistic nuances specific to each national Scandinavian scenes always appear obvious to me. While Norwegians are more likely to celebrate their harsh climate, Swedes are incorrigible Satanists and Finns are rather mystical, and As The Darkness Enters constitutes a new evidence of these observations. This fourth album launched by Lord Sargofagian (instruments, vocals) indeed draws its inspiration from his own tribe occult hymns.

Right from the brief introduction, band draws us into its dark but surprisingly melodic universe. Compositions are indeed marked by a desire to create environments both harsh and melancholic, thanks to discreet keyboards and long high notes’ guitar sequences. Interpretation is also excellent for all instruments, especially drums, where rhythm changes are well done, both frantically on The Prayer and trashy on Chalice of Death. But my heart goes out to Sieluni Temppeli (« the temple of my mind »), sung in Finnish, a wonderfully agglutinative language. The main riff of this title is simply beautiful and its final incantation with its heavy rock air is brilliant. Rest of the album is to match and it is difficult for me to identify any major defects.

Baptism lacks the notoriety of some other members of its tribe, such as Beherit, Behexen, Horna or Sargeist, but it certainly has the same qualities. As The Darkness Enters is an excellent Finnish black metal record, which demonstrates a genuine concern for song writing and interpretation. Get it to enhance your next occult celebration's atmosphere. Demonic appearance guaranteed!

Originally written for Métal Obscur.