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This album surprised me... what happened to this band? Whereas the other two Judas Iscariot albums that I own ('Heaven in Flames' and 'Of Great Eternity') seemed to be mainly illustrating Akhenaten's conflict between 'traditional' black metal and the compositional experimentation he obviously wanted to undertake, this record does away with the trepidation or instrumental hesitation that I hear on those earlier releases and instead decides to go straight for the listener's throat with a strong sense of conviction and determination. Between 'Heaven in Flames' and this record Akhenaten must have reached something of a crisis point in his career, as the music here demonstrates a mastery of tone and obscure melodicism that was only hinted at before - it's as if the man went through a trial by fire, and emerged whole and victorious on the other side. Perhaps it is only his musical 'maturity' that I am feeling here, the ease with which he now approaches composition. Perhaps it is the sound of a reconciliation he had with his own aims within the genre. I can not be sure. But I am sure of one thing: this is not the Judas Iscariot that I knew from earlier recordings.
The first two songs, 'Descent to the Abyss' and 'Benevolent Whore, Dethroned for Eternity', are, quite literally, a manifesto of black metal conviction - they rage straight ahead with an immensely grim fury and a new-found sense of purpose. I believe they are the fastest, most scathing, and most brutal Judas Iscariot songs I have ever heard. The melodies are complex and stirringly chromatic, the riffing is expert, the song structures are well-constucted and ruthlessly efficient, and the pace is relentless. The guitar playing has improved tremendously, both in the use/range of abstract or direct tones and the references reached for. It is simply on another level now. The drumming (courtesy of session hammer 'Cryptic Winter') is completely over the top - a pitiless, incessant barrage of necro gunfire, all snare and cymbals. Beautifully chaotic - and beautifully recorded, I might add.
Having said that, and having treated the two songs that will probably gain the most attention on this release, I will now move to what is, for me, the most impressive song. This is the third track, 'Journey Through Visions of War'. Beginning with an eloquent chiming riff, echoing the alarms and klaxons of battle - and also mourning the dead symbolically with its downturned melancholy - this piece presents for the listener what can only be described as some of Akhenaten's most accomplished composing to date. There are at least two exquisite minor chord/atonal riffs in here which are ferociously evocative and brightly original. Moving in an easy, relaxed fashion through traditional black metal structures and the eloquent phrasing and re-phrasing of essential melodies as the tempo slowly increases, we move with the song through a set of segments that build upon each other until the climax is reached... suddenly the song shifts focus...and all of the energy of the preceding requiem-riffs are released in a final lightspeed evisceration. As I said above, this song displays a great deal of experience with the subtleties of black metal structures or the 'traditional' methods of riffing and variation - a level of experience that Ahkenaten has earned, now, through years of experimentation and study.
Do I need to say anything more? This is a very interesting collection of songs... I only hope that Akhenaten builds on the ideas displayed here when he is writing the next album, or at the very least takes what he has learned from the writing/recording process of this release to further his compositions. This is an expertly planned and played example of all out black metal war, a lethal, powerful record... I am impressed.
I don't really like this, but the reasons WHY I don't like it are more interesting than they usually are.
All the pieces of Judas Iscariot's style are intact here: the distinctive riffing style, the binary, clumsy drumming, the raw, grumbling vocals, you know the drill. The difference here is that it all feels intentional, as though at this point in his career, Akhenaten started reading reviews of his old albums and started defining his style more and more in line with what others thought it was. What makes most Judas Iscariot music so special is the feeling that it comes from nowhere, as though Akhenaten was completely oblivious as to what was going on and was just churning out songs in his basement. That feeling is absent here and replaced with a sterile sort of meta-understanding of the band and music, losing all of the project's amateurish charm and really removing what made albums like 'Heaven In Flames' so great.
Let's take the riffs: yes, they adhere to the melodic style of previous Judas Iscariot releases. In fact, they adhere to it too much, and it seems like this release is really a caricature of what a Judas Iscariot release is supposed to sound like rather than what the band actually is. Where's the spontaneous, bizarre stuff like 'From Hateful Visions'? Where's the off-the-cuff song structures? Those things are absent in favor of something that's a lot more professional but also a lot more sterile. Many of the subtle elements of previous Judas Iscariot releases are absent from this one; slight riff variations, delicately refined yet still raw production, and, in the end, the sense that the music is more than just black metal for black metal's sake.
I guess I can't say that any of these songs are bad per se as they'd probably be perfectly adequate coming from another band, but for Judas Iscariot they're mediocre and phoned in. The first two tracks are conventional blast and tremolo numbers with decent riffs but no real surplus of inspiration, 'Journey Through Visions Of War' provides 'variation' by being slower than the first two, and 'March Upon A Mighty Throne' is a guitar-only track because, well, Judas Iscariot does guitar-only tracks! The only reason this sounds like Judas Iscariot is because it's MADE TO SOUND THAT WAY, not a natural outgrowth of Akhenaten's style. I'm not really sure what went wrong here but it really feels like a case of an artist believing his own hype.
This is a pretty unnecessary release and even though it's not really awful its lack of inspiration is so clear and massive that it's kind of uncomfortable to listen to. Stick with the project's earlier output and pretend this didn't happen; if you get what Judas Iscariot was really about, you'll be disappointed.
The body of Judas Iscariot’s work can best be described as woefully unoriginal yet somehow still delightfully very good. And Dethroned, Conquered and Forgotten is in good concert with that summation. It’s raw, well written and screams black metal energy. It caught on to me right away. Akhenaten deviates a little bit from the more melodic rawness of prior releases such as Heaven In Flames. This EP is something faster, thinner and more stripped down. His prior recordings were instantly recognizable as Burzum, early Satyricon and perhaps-more directly- even some Sventevith era Behemoth influences. Dethroned, Conquered and Forgotten though sounds like a precise blend of Darkthrone and Immortal. You’re probably thinking that in this day, that’s neither novel nor difficult. True, but doing it with perfection and attention to mechanical detail is what Judas Iscariot excels at on here.
Akhenaten unleashes velocity of pure Norwegian black metal sound straight away in those riffs. This was quite a privilege to listen to but the star of this show is Cryptic Winter on drums. The drumming on Judas Iscariot’s prior albums with the main man doing them was passable though clumsy but on this EP, the drumming is everything needed to put this one over the top. It’s natural, super fast and pummels every beat succinctly while still maintaining an unmistakable black metal tone of primitivism. And let’s not forget the work well done with the tin fidelity element. Every black metal listener worth their salt knows that this is where many bands of the genre get tripped up on. Here, Akhenaten’s plan of attack is to go loud and aggressive with the percussion to the max and slice down everything else but within earshot. But you’ll notice the hi-hat runs beneath the main beats with the guitars. His production choice of technique here has less to do with equalizing than it does with understanding how this type of black metal should sound. As a matter of fact you could say chaos theory applies more to black metal than music theory does. If you come away with one thing in mind after listening to this EP, it should be just that very paradigm to remember.
The bristling rasps of Akhenaten are, not surprisingly, faster as to make them sound different than on previous occasions. I think they are one of his strongest efforts and they are well suited to this even rawer release. March Upon a Mighty Throne is the one slower going song. It’s a haunting and somber Norse type instrumental. It’s nice that the band is able to slip in that type of slow, epic interlude to round things out. Considering that this is an EP, it serves to make it sound more like you’re getting the value of a full-length. That’s exactly what I look for in an EP. I would rate this with among Wolf’s Lair Abyss as a standard bearing extended play recording. Spill The Blood of the Lamb is done here in a much faster version than from Heaven In Flames which is why it’s labeled as “Blitzkrieg Version”. Not having heard the original in awhile, this one was so different that I didn’t even recognize it at first.
Descent to the Abyss and Benevolent Whore, Dethroned for Eternity are two songs doing vicious riffs of the same chord patterns and it works splendidly. They blast away like a battery of double barreled artillery guns doing volley fires. Journey Through Visions of War is a bit slower but no less grim. Some of those chroma-styled fifths at the end are very much in the tradition of Blackthorn’s guitar style. It’s good to hear these traditions intact.
It’s a pity Akhenaten decided to retire this project. This would not be his final album but it’s one of his high marks of his consistent repertoire. He doesn’t push the borders of black metal, no. But this album sounds like a study and inspirational piece in tribute to the true masters while standing out with great confidence and blasphemic vigor. This is great black metal that I can always rely on when it’s played this well.
This is the first Judas Iscariot release with Cryptic Winter on drums, and you can tell from his style of playing. He's not as sloppy as Akhenaten, but I didn't mind the sloppiness as I felt it added to the previous albums. This EP doesn't sound too much like the full length before this as Dethroned, Conquered and Forgotten sounds a bit more aggressive. Akhenaten's riffs are still incredible as always. I've always thought of Akhenaten to be one of, if not the best black metal song writers out there. On the same level as Jon Nodtveidt (Dissection, who seems to have slipt a bit with the 3 post-prison songs I've heard), Wrest (Leviathan/Lurker of Chalice), Varg Vikernes (Burzum, as if you didn't already know what band he's in) and Orlok (Countess), and that is saying a lot.
This EP has 4 new tracks. Of the new material Journey Through Visions of War would be my favorite. It's a bit slower and less aggressive than the others and gives off a Of Great Eternity vibe. The fifth and final track is a Special Blitzkrieg Version of Spill the Blood of the Lamb, which was on the Heaven in Flames masterpiece. This version is faster, shorter and more aggressive than the original. Tough to say which is better as the original fits in with the style of Heaven in Flames and this version fits in with the aggressiveness of the EP. Both fit their releases well.
This is another top notch Judas Iscariot release showing a more aggressive side of the band. If you are new to Akhenaten's brilliance then I would start out with the 6 full-lengths first before getting this, but after getting those albums definitely pick this one up.
Beginning with a deceptively tranquil (compared to the rest of the EP) guitar riff, it's only seconds before we are bombarded with insanely fast blast - beats (courtesy of session drummer Cryptic Winter) and raw, Darkthrone (circa Transylvanian Hunger) style chords progressions. The overall effect is simple yet immediately overpowering and mesmerising in a way that so many bands have attempted (mostly in vain).
When the vocals are inflicted upon us, they come in the form of violent, throat - shredding rasps, the likes of which could easily do serious damage to one's vocal chords. The only gripe here, and a tiny one at that, is that the vocals are just a little bit too low in the mix, and could have maybe done with a touch of reverb. However, this is hardly noticeable, especially once you get caught up in the music.
Unlike some other bands, Judas Iscariot (or rather Akhenaten, for this is still essentially a one - man band) does not fall into the common trap of relentless blasting. Opening song 'Descent To The Abyss', and following track 'Benevolent Whore, Dethroned For Eternity' tear away at your ears like a rusty chainsaw on overdrive, but things slow down considerably (without losing any of the intensity) by the third song. Just as the pace starts to pick up again, we are treated to a fantastic, guitar - only track, somewhat reminiscent of Burzum's 'The Crying Orc', only longer and more melancholy.
After this well placed break, the 'Blitzkrieg' version of 'Spill The Blood Of The Lambs' tears desperately through the speakers, and then it's all over. Showing admirable restraint on the part of Akhenaten, the EP does not drag on and on, but instead stops right in its tracks, leaving you with an urge to listen to the whole thing again. Evidently, there is considerable knowledge in this band regarding both song - structuring and overall album - structuring, which raises Judas Iscariot above many of their / his peers.
This is one of those release where you say “this is Judas Iscariot?”. Then you say to yourself “well yes it is, and my how they have changed”. Whenever a band releases an ep its either when they are just starting, or wanting to try something different. On Dethroned, Conquered, and Forgotten, we have the latter. Although Dethroned, Conquered, and Forgotten is quite different from previous works, you can see trademark Judas Iscariot in this ep. What makes this ep so unique and different for the band is the directions it goes in. Akhenaten did all of his previous work for Judas Iscariot it a atmospheric, desolate, and grim style. On Dethroned, Conquered, and Forgotten, we see Akhenaten trying to make the Judas Iscariot sound more aggressive, more raw, more destructive, and faster. Akhenaten succeeds in doing so with out fail.
When first listening to this album expecting some more great Judas Iscariot in vain of its previous releases I was blown away. I did not expect to be blasted by an aggressive raw guitar, pounding drums, and very harsh vocals. The overall sound of this ep is similar to Judas Iscariot’s other works, just faster, more raw, and more aggressive. This ep is filled with very fast raw guitar riffs accompanied by very fast pounding drums. On Benevolent Whore, Dethroned for Eternity you can see some similarities to Krieg (which is no surprise since Akhenaten and Lord Imperial have worked together before). This is the most raw and aggressive track and sounds like something you would get off a Krieg album. Other similar but less powerful moments on this ep occur on Descent to the Abyss. Descent to the Abyss is just like Benevolent Whore, Dethroned for Eternity, except a bit less aggressive and fast. The other interesting and unique aspect of this album is that Akhenaten makes his vocals more strained and harsh (another Krieg influence). On previous works, Akhenaten sang in a deep, slow, and grim voice. Here he screeches out some painful harsh vocals that add to the aggressive and raw feel of the album.
A break in the album occurs on Journey Through Visions of War. This track is not aggressive like the previous two, and sounds most like Thy Dying Light and Of Great Eternity era Judas Iscariot. It is a slow paced song that has plenty of repetition and atmosphere. Akhenaten’s vocals are also a bit less harsh and elongated. After this track the album doesn’t have much left to offer. A slow paced instrumental song that sets a depressing and dark atmosphere. This is a track that would fit well on Thy Dying Light and Of Great Eternity, but seems very out of place here. The final track, Spill The Blood Of The Lamb contains some of the more aggressive elements from the first two song son the ep. Akhenaten’s vocals are once again screeched and harsh and musically it’s a less powerful version of Descent To The Abyss.
For Judas Iscariot this is a bit of a weak attempt even considering that it is an ep. If all the songs kept the aggressive aspects to them this release would have much more power and be overall a better ep. Such is not the case and the ep just feels like Akhenaten wanted to cash in on two great songs, and some other sub par material (I say cash in because this is available through amazon.com). I recommend almost every other Judas Iscariot release before this one. A refreshing thought is that this is by far Judas Iscariots worst work, and its by no means terrible. If this ep were overall more aggressive and powerful it would receive a 9 or higher, alas, it falls short of greatness, or even impressing me.
Judas Iscariot is charging into a new realm in terms of black metal. This cd has many of the trade mark Judas Iscariot type riffs with cryptic winter on drums. Akhenaten seems to have also gone out of his way to make the music more intense, and more raw then the previous release. One could make the assumption that he has decided to return to the previous recording style of 'thy dying light...' etc. The recording seperates itself from this era. It sounds as though more money has been spent on the production itself but the equipment has been driven harder. The guitar has this fuzz going through it reminding me a little bit of gorgoroth's work. The drums are more hollow then usual but the bass kick is louder. This seems like a worthy compromise since I accept Akhenaten is no longer on drums. The bass guitar also plays a fairly decent role throughout this cd. The overall sound is very impressive, lets not also forget how long Judas Iscariot has been around for. I think this is important and I greatly admire this band for remaining true raw black metal. Though this is different, Akhenaten's drum errors are no longer present...this is nothing less then what I would expect. Recommanded even as a first Judas Iscariot experience despite the shortish play time.
Y'know, generally I dislike EP's. Often they're an excuse to throw out some substandard material, throwaway demo/live/rehearsal tracks or some similar nonsense. Not in the case of Judas Iscariot's EP's though. This, just like the others, is simply a pummeling assault packed with quality tunes for it's mere 20 minute length. The opener "Descent To The Abyss" starts out deceptively gentle with 4 bars of echoing guitar, before the drums and main riff kick in with spine-crushing force, nailing you to the wall for 5 minutes. The cymbals here are insane, sounding like clashing swords or something, while the characteristically abrasive, fuzzed out guitar tone hammers forth simple yet effective Darkthrone-worshipping riffs. This being the second album to feature Duane Timlin/Cryptic Winter on drums, the percussion is downright amazing, far surpassing Akhenaten's clumsy yet charming drumming on the older material.
"Benevolent Whore, Dethroned For Eternity" doesn't let up in the intensity stakes either, being 3 minutes of pummeling blastbeats and more nasty guitar work. The next two tracks slow down a bit, the first being a midpaced, more atmospheric black metal tune, which is followed by one of JI's trademarks - a guitar-only instrumental of epic proportions, which is something I haven't noticed any other bands doing - usually these things only last a minute or they have synth or drums. The last track is a sped up reworking of "Spill The Blood Of The Lamb, originally featured on Heaven In Flames, this time subtitled "Special Blitzkrieg Version" and lasting 90 seconds less than the original version. It fits in nicely with the first two songs and makes for a nasty finale to this short, intense piece of work. Definitely nab this if you can find it, especially if you haven't heard Judas Iscariot before. It's a perfect introduction for newbies and an essential addition for existing devotees.