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There’s one thing, which must be said first and foremost – this album doesn’t sound like any other Hades record. The band have made a huge progress since the old days and really became something what can be only called as progressive black metal and original form. And yes, I do realize that a lot of maniacs are suspicious about such descriptions, as too often it happened that progressive equals something completely unlistenable and came as a result of forced changes, forced and fake originality that was also a result of new Norwegian trends from the late 90’s.
But it’s not a case with “Pulse of Decay”. And I tell you something – I did not like this album so much, when I heard it for the first time back when it was released. I felt disappointed, when I heard this different style, sound and approach and I could not convince myself to it. But years pass on, everything changes and so did my opinion regarding “Pulse of Decay”, as nowadays I think it’s just excellent album!
Yes, it’s so much more progressive than the previous records. There’s very little, if anything, left from the style of Hades, which we know from “Again Shall Be” and “Dawn of the Dying Sun” and which was slow based, very epic, monumental and majestic, raw, cold black metal. But it’s great that this newer Hades is able to defend itself for the high quality of the music is undisputable. If there’s anything connected to the old albums, then I guess it would only be the epic and monumental feeling of the music, which is always present. Of course one could miss the dark and obscure, evil atmosphere from the old albums, but it’s just pointless to moan that the band has progressed and changed over the course of ten years, as it would be even more dangerous if they stagnated and played the same stuff all the time. Besides, the band delivered something more original and their performance on “The Pulse of Decay” is seriously excellent.
Let me start with the first song here, “Submission Equals Suicide”. I simply love it. I love the brilliant main riff here and what strikes the most is the vocal performance of Jonto, who sounds so different! I mean, his vocals became cleaner, but still have some harsh screaming… in the cleaner parts he sounds like Quorthon and generally his vocals are very original sounding. Very good work! What’s also awesome about this song is how epic, but also aggressive it sounds. It gets faster near the end and the result is truly amazing. With next song (which is the title track) it becomes obvious that Hades will not commit suicide from the previous album “Millenium Nocturne” and won’t be so monotonous anymore, as “The Pulse of Decay” is so damn varied, with many different styles of riffing, vocals and also great drumming of Remi. It’s among the most experimental and progressive songs here, with the main style of playing, which can be compared to some oriental melodies and drumming – but how fantastic it sounds, and still so damn dark and vicious! Finally there’s “The Antichrist Inside”, which at the same time belongs to the most aggressive and fastest songs on the album, with truly vicious atmosphere, but also more epic and slower middle part. Truly, I must admit that all these three tracks are superb!!!!!
On side A there’s only the bonus track “Generation Murder – Rape”, which I like less and which is below the highest quality the other songs deliver. This song may be damn fast and aggressive, but it’s just not as good as the other songs, not to mention quite raw production of it (it was recorded during different recording session). During the same session “Cyber Alchemist” from side B was also recorded, which is the second bonus track on this LP… but this one is awesome, it’s memorable, also quite fast, but really damn good. From side B I guess there’s only one song, which I don’t like so much and it’s “Apocalypse”… On the other hand such “Vendetta Assassination” have some riffs, which could easily fit to “Dawn of the Dying Sun”, so harsh and cold it sounds and have some of these characteristic arrangements Hades is known for. And let’s mention also the epic “Razor” – fantastic song!
Yeah… I hardly ever mention almost entire album’s tracklists in my review, I did so here, for two reasons. One was to underline how diverse and interesting this album is. Secondly, to show how awesome “The Pulse of Decay” is. It’s a highly underrated album, but I hope that it will get what it deserves one day!
Standout tracks: “Submission Equals Suicide”, “Cyber Alchemist”, “The Antichrist Inside”, “The Pulse of Decay”
Final rate: 85/100
Hades Almighty (formerly Hades) are one of the many Norwegian black metal bands from the second wave of black metal. The thing is, not many people know about them. The thing that introduced me to this band was the movie Metal: A Headbanger's Journey. They did an interview with the guitarist and founder of Hades Almighty, Jorn Tunsberg. Jorn was involved in the many church burnings during the early 90's. Anyways, after watching the movie, I decided to check this band out. This band is pretty much in the same league as other second wave of black metal bands such as Satyricon, Gorgoroth, Immortal, Mayhem, and other bands of that nature. While this band never became as successful as any of those bands, and probably never will, they release some quality black metal.
On their early albums Hades Almighty played viking black metal similar to bands like Enslaved or early Satyricon. With this release they completely change their style to where they sound nothing like they used to. On The Pulse of Decay, the band plays experimental black metal. They mix their usual black metal style with elements of industrial, ambient, and doom metal. The guitarists play a couple different styles. They're either playing the fast black metal tremolo picking, slow doom riffs, or very technical riffs. Not tech death style techincal, but technical enough for a black metal album. The bass is surprisinly audible on this album as well. This is obviously very odd for black metal and to tell you the truth I really dont know how to describe the bass very well because its usually inaudible on most albums I listen to. Drumming on this album is handled by a man named Remi Andersen and his style of drumming also not your typical black metal style. There are almost no blast beats on this album and while they are present, they're not the main style like on most black metal albums. The drumming is pretty fast, but not in the form of blast beats. While the more slow, doomy parts are going the drummer does a great job of keeping the pace of the song. This is album is also kind of melodic. Keyboards are present throughout the album, and while they're not a main focus, you can tell they are there and they keep this album feeling very melodic and not just like another black metal album.
Janto Garmanslund is the vocalist and also the bassist for Hades Almighty, and he actually sounds like a mix of the two Mayhem vocalists, but also has his own style. Sometimes he sounds like Maniac, formerly of Mayhem and sometimes he does the unique style of vocals reminiscent to Attila currently of Mayhem. He almost sounds like an exact clone of Attila at some points, which is a good thing because unlike some people, I think Attila's vocals are amazing. Also sometimes, particularly at the beginning of Vendetta Assassination, Janto does a very weird type of vocals that are best described as sqealing. Now dont think deathcore pig squealing because thats not even close to what these sound like. There's really no way to describe them because they are very unique. Also, he does some really weird laughing a couple times during some of the songs. Very creepy, but very awesome.
Sound effects are another key ingredient to making this album really good. The band uses ambient and industrial samples throughout the album and thats where those influences come from. In the middle of a couple songs the band just throws in some weird sounding ambient parts and its pretty creepy. The industrial samples usually come at the beginning of the songs before they blast off into black metal madness. The ambient and industrial parts here and there just make the album even more unique.
After the album is all said and done, you will most likely be satisfied. The only problem is that it can get a little bit repetitive and some of the riffs start to sound the same towards the end. Other than that though this album is a hidden gem in the black metal scene. Hades Almighty definitely holds their ground and they should be heard. They're right up there with bands early Norwegian black metal bands such as Gorgoroth and Immortal. Most people just havent heard of them yet. Well this is your chance. Buy this album and also their early viking black metal albums for some quality Norwegian black metal that is sadly unheard by a lot of people.
Hades are a really weird band. Apart from having changed the name because the real Hades came back (the thrash metal ones), they’ve changed also musically and not just a bit. If the period from the beginning to the great The Dawn of The Dying Sun was considered their Viking/black one, after they suffered from a sort of mutation that brought them to be a sort of experimental black metal act. Anyway, don’t expect something in Kovenant style because Hades Almighty are far blacker and they exasperated a sort of doom influence that was already traceable in their previous efforts.
The atmosphere is truly gloom and what I’ve always loved about them is that they never needed lots keyboards and synth parts to enrich their sound. Everything was quite natural in their change and always black. Millennium Nocturne was awesome in this change and presented us a band that almost abandoned the Viking past to embrace a sort of esoteric and “stellar” feeling in the songs. Everything seemed to be so weird and dark and this The Pulse of Decay is a natural continuation. After a short intro, “Submission Equals Suicide” is ready to explode and, for those who have listened to the early work, the change is more than evident.
It’s incredible how they marked a different direction without having completely abandoned their past. At the end, the drums tempo is always the same, the doom one also and the vocals are screamed but in some parts are just a bit clearer and less suffered. The atmosphere always remained gloom but this time more artificial and weird. The various stop and go are great and the guitars are truly the most obscure thing on this album. Actually, this song is very good and a perfect opener that makes the things clear, immediately. The title track follows without a moment to relax and features almost oriental lead parts along with more modern structures to flow in a more extreme direction.
The production is the best they’ve ever had in cleanness of sounds because all the instruments explode in volumes and compactness. The breaks are hyper gloom and really infernal. The atmospheres are just scary and truly dark. The guitar riffs add violence and the drums follow. “The Antichrist Inside” is a bit faster but always in relation to Hades style. The vocals are far more screamed and black metal, while the guitars are martial in the riffs and the drums accompany them very well. This song is more direct and, except for the break in the middle, the atmospheres are less present. It’s a good song, but not as good as the previous ones on this album.
“Vendetta Assassination” is very good in the second half where an arpeggios on the electric guitar almost hide a melody. The rest is goodish but they are a bit going downhill in these last songs… “Apocalypse” features the return of the choirs of old Hades and I’ve always loved them. They are on the background but always audible. The song is really essential and the vocals are mostly on growl. The guitars have something thrash inside and the classic arpeggio is just for some breaks. They are always cold and apocalyptic. “Razor” follows the same style with a cold, far arpeggio at the beginning and the bass is always very pounding. Going on everything remains very atmospheric, even during the faster parts. The very last notes are incredibly similar to “Nothing Else Matters”!
Overall, this is a good album by these courageous Norwegians. The first songs are the best but everything it’s enjoyable. By the way, you must forget about the old Hades and listen to this without prejudices. I still prefer Millennium Nocturne for the songs and the atmospheres but this one is good too.
Hades Almighty had all the chances back then to become a great and respected band in the Black Metal scene. The band was formed in the early 90s, the period of the great Scandinavian BM expansion, they come from Bergen, Norway and guitarplayer Jorn was in prison for burning a church. With all the ingredients of a successful formula and music of great class, is a mystery for me how after many years they are still in the shadows somehow.
If we count the first 2 LPs which came out under the name Hades (they were forced to change their name because of another band that used the same name) this is the 4th album. The Pulse of Decay was released in 2001, so - as you already deduced - this is a re-issued CD, covering also some great bonus material.
Though they are Norwegians, their way of BM differs from the standard Norwegian Black Steel. The first thing what jumps to your mind listening to this album is that the guitarwork carries many thrash metal influences, but evidently all the thrash metal pulsations remaining embedded in a consistent and massive Black Metal sound. The musicians are masters of their instruments, everything is calculated, but without losing the specific Black Metal instinct. Guitarlines are complex, and the bass has an important role, which is a bit unusual in this style. Each song has its own particular feeling and the strange voice of Janto Garmanslund somehow connects the tracks, being aggressive, cold, dark and melodic at the same time. The bonus section is consisted of 2 other Hades Almighty tracks, a fine cover of Bathory’s Each Dawn I Die and a video of Submission Equals Suicide. Well-done!