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Azrael > Obdurate / Unto Death > Reviews > dyingseraph84
Azrael - Obdurate / Unto Death

Obdurate/Unto Death - 40%

dyingseraph84, May 31st, 2010

I have been a Azrael fan since I heard Into Shadows Act 1. The mix of droning avant-garde black metal and atmospherics had me hooked from the start. That being said, I was excited when news of this release broke.

I had never been able to get a hold of Azrael’s early material, and I was excited to hear what they had to offer. For the uninitiated, Azrael creates a unique sound that’s equal parts Burzum , and Agalloch mixed together.

First up we have Obdurate which was released sometime in January 2001. From the get go your greeted with one of the harshest, messiest guitar tones you’ll ever encounter. It’s as if you took a little 25 watt amplifier, cranked the gain up all the way and then you ran a separate distortion pedal (which is also turned up all the way) through that same channel. It’s noisy and balanced properly actually it reminds me of the guitar tone found on Bathory’s The Return, although this is just a little harsher.

The production aids a lot in giving the music that claustrophobic atmosphere. The whole time Obdurate is playing you can’t help but think that the walls are closing in on you. The contra bass is used effectively here and even though the guitar is the loudest instrument, that contra bass comes through. Forget about trying to listen to the drums, there pushed all the way in the back and have a flat, dull sound to them.

Obdurate is decent I was expecting some more though, the progression between this and Into Shadows Act 1 is pretty big. There isn’t too much going on here, the music plods along at a slow pace and never goes past mid tempo. It just seemed that Into Shadows Act 1 had a lot more to offer but hey, that’s why Obdurate comes before it!

Unto death is next and was recorded between August 2000 and April 2001. To be blunt, Unto Death is awful. Any trace of the sound found on Obdurate is lost on Unto Death. I know that this is one of the bands first releases so I’m not going to be too harsh here. The music presented on this demo has a lot in common with second wave black metal. The sound can be compared to bands such as Burzum, and Samael.

First things First, the delivery here sucks there are blatant fuck ups all over this demo. I understand that it is a demo and black metal isn’t supposed to be perfect but come on would it have killed you to take a couple more takes so we can hear what your trying to play?! Take a song like “Opening of the Tomb”, there is a part in the middle of the song where some acoustic guitars come in the background to add some atmospherics, and Lord Samaiza cannot even strum properly with the song! It totally kills the seriousness and mood of the song.

The songs do not have enough variation to justify running times of 7 to 11 minutes long. There are literally 2 riffs per song so this demo really plays out its welcome halfway through the first song.

The production is noisy and isolated. It feels as though the instruments are trying to overpower each other. There are no redeeming qualities to this demo except the fact that Azrael decided to evolve and stop sounding like this.

I would only recommend this to hardcore fans of Azrael, if you are new to the band DO NOT start here! If you have Obdurate then I wouldn’t get this either, the Unto Death material is very weak and honestly really bad. I would research this before buying.