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More mature and skilled - 88%

Singularity, November 27th, 2008

The first full length release from the band that was formed from the ashes of the raw, part-hokey, part-disturbing Hellhammaer represents a clear shift in style and sound. Far more professional than their earlier incarnation, Tom G's trio recorded an album that has a definite focus, development and execution. Despite that it is impossible to deny a certain thematic continuity that identifies this as a successor of Apocalyptic Raids. //

The production is less raw just and that description is true for every aspect of this release when compared to Hellhammer. At the same time, it is far removed from the slick, polished finish one would expect from modern power metal bands - a grainy, muddy sound is a constant accompaniment in the background. The guitar tone is heavy, bludgeoning and dominant throughout the album. I cannot overemphasize the aggression that makes a strong presence in every song. In that regard, it has moved ahead from their previous effort where the songs were uneven and relied heavily on the eeriness and shrieks. Talking of which, this album has no dearth of atmosphere and darkness or screams and grunts. While the bizarre, unearthly bells, screeches, howling winds and various unclassifiable sounds of Danse Macabre are the most extreme in this regard, the others have a powerful, intense sense of dread, horror and primeval expression. The general pace is slower than most contemporary thrash outputs, but the most distinct moments are the bass-heavy, thick guitar-riffs in slower segments. Thrash breaks can be heard in almost all song and they are used very effectively in a manner that complements the overall mood of the album. The guitar solos are short, atmospheric and adds to the grim, bleak and hopeless aesthetics. Standing on their own, these solos would not be particularly imaginative, but they could not be more in sync with the songs. The drumming is good and maintains the pace and aggression while providing a sense of structure to the songs. //
It comes as little surprise in hindsight that this was an extremely influential album which eventually heralded a whole new genre that was later explored to great lengths over the next several years. It is hard to think of another band that created such a dark art with a clear, topical focus both in sound and mood and yet managed to kick-ass( in the traditional sense) and not abandon the broad framework Heavy Metal.