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Baptism – As The Darkness Enters - 80%

Asag_Asakku, November 23rd, 2012

In the beginning, three tribes inhabited the vast frozen northern landscapes. The first lived along endless fjords, constantly swept by wind and rain; the second lived by the sea and made sacrifices in the name of terrible bloody infernal gods; and the third one prefered lakes and forests, separated from the other two by an incomprehensible language. Each of these tribes had developed its own rituals, with particular themes. Nature, cold and death for one; demons, blood and suffering for the other; black magic, shamanism and occultism for the last. Passage of time gradually faded the original differences, but their essence remained.

This allegory came to my mind when I discovered Finnish band Baptism’s new album. Even after all these years of listening to black metal, stylistic nuances specific to each national Scandinavian scenes always appear obvious to me. While Norwegians are more likely to celebrate their harsh climate, Swedes are incorrigible Satanists and Finns are rather mystical, and As The Darkness Enters constitutes a new evidence of these observations. This fourth album launched by Lord Sargofagian (instruments, vocals) indeed draws its inspiration from his own tribe occult hymns.

Right from the brief introduction, band draws us into its dark but surprisingly melodic universe. Compositions are indeed marked by a desire to create environments both harsh and melancholic, thanks to discreet keyboards and long high notes’ guitar sequences. Interpretation is also excellent for all instruments, especially drums, where rhythm changes are well done, both frantically on The Prayer and trashy on Chalice of Death. But my heart goes out to Sieluni Temppeli (« the temple of my mind »), sung in Finnish, a wonderfully agglutinative language. The main riff of this title is simply beautiful and its final incantation with its heavy rock air is brilliant. Rest of the album is to match and it is difficult for me to identify any major defects.

Baptism lacks the notoriety of some other members of its tribe, such as Beherit, Behexen, Horna or Sargeist, but it certainly has the same qualities. As The Darkness Enters is an excellent Finnish black metal record, which demonstrates a genuine concern for song writing and interpretation. Get it to enhance your next occult celebration's atmosphere. Demonic appearance guaranteed!

Originally written for Métal Obscur.