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It doesn’t really take long for one who is new to Hell Militia to determine their country of origin, with Jacob’s Ladder being this French black metal horde’s third full length offering to their followers.
The spoken sample that greets the listener at the opening checks the listener in to an asylum, before Hell Militia unleashes their full French weirdness onto the listener. The riffs that hit the listener right from the start, with their somewhat avant-garde elements, are deeply reminiscent of their compatriots Deathspell Omega, but there is much more at play over here as the band includes much more fury in their craft, bringing in the speed and intensity with that ever so slight death metal aggression that is rather similar to Swedish black metal bands. And all these are shrouded under a cold and harsh atmosphere, bringing in some semblance to Norwegian pioneers like Mayhem. As though the madness here isn’t sufficient to occupy the senses of the listener, there are moments where the band goes into somewhat progressive segments, with the vocals of Meyhnach bringing to the table a sound that is not unlike solo works of Ihsahn.
The band members here obviously know their craft well, as each instrument is executed superbly, and each note by guitarists Arkdaemon and Prosecutor are pulled out with intent and purpose, all meant to make the listener feel as uneasy as possible. Drummer Dave is particularly stellar, providing lots of the energy in the music with the tireless and continuous blasting that lasts almost the entirety of the album.
As with most French releases, Hell Militia places quite a strong emphasis on the high tension atmosphere in their music as well. For instance, quiet segments are often cleverly used by the band to create the haunting atmosphere, along with the sharp and trebly lead guitars that are often utilised, and slower tracks like Death Worship are used to build the climax. Sound samples and spoken samples can also be found littered throughout the album, helping to further push the limits of the listener’s sanity like on The Black Projector.
Unfortunately, as the album progressed it started to feel as though the band lost the energy and aggression that it started off with, with the later tracks on the album sounding somewhat lethargic compared to the first half. Still, Jacob’s Ladder is quite a decent album for those who looking to start their foray into French black metal, but can’t stand the weirdness of bands like Deathspell and Blut Aus Nord.