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Filth without frills - 81%

Felix 1666, November 5th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2000, CD, Spinefarm Records

It was not easy to get a physical copy of "Okkult", at least for people like me who are not able to storm Fort Knox in order to get its gold reserves. And I am sorry, but I deny to pay astronomical prices for an album. Anyway, "Okkult" had a certain fascination for me and so I did not rest until I was successful. Was it worthwhile? I think so.

Those of you who have currently listened to Barathrum's comeback "Fanatiko" will not find many parallels between this hellish nightmare and the very controlled approach of the here reviewed album. "Okkult" is neither extrem nor ugly, it offers mid-paced, quite melodic songs that do not show many typical features of the black genre. The longplayer cannot be described as furious, brutal or icy, but it is based on a subliminal malignancy. Due to the relatively lenient degree of aggression and the active support of the keyboard, Barathrum almost sound like Cradle of Filth minus the complex song structures of the British circus. The Finnish group prefers simple patterns that make it easy for likewise simple minds like me to get access to the album in a matter of minutes. By the way, their clearly structured and unpretentious songs provide evidence that the band members are not interested in narcissism. They don't want to be the most radical or most "dangerous" guys. Their compositions do not break new records in terms of violence, but the musicians do not care about their normalcy. A likeable attitude, which is also reflected by the artwork. There is nothing shocking or brutal, no priest is forced to play the cocksucker for Satan or something like that. Nevertheless, this picture indicates the genre very precisely.

I admit that I am not very tolerant. But I understand everybody who says that this output is not very exciting or even boring. I cannot deny that tempo changes, unexpected breaks or any other form of surprising components do not show up. The material of "Okkult" is definitely not spectacular. It is a polarizing album. Either one finds a black essence in it or one is at risk to waste precious lifetime. My decision is clear, "Okkult" emanates a devilish flair. The almost primitive riffing and the eldritch nagging of the lead vocalist constitute the metallic pillars, while the keyboard adds majestic feelings or finely woven melodies (for example at the beginning of "I Am Very Possessed"). Moreover, the keyboard pulls the listener in the songs from time to time. "Bride of Lucifer", one of the highlights, ilustrates that this often scorned instrument can add value to a metal album. Both its very melancholic, slow-paced first part and the relatively dense second half profit from the integration of the keyboard. Maybe the well-balanced, relatively airy production is helpful in this context, because the guitars leave room for the further instruments. They are neither dominant nor extremely low-tuned. But despite the pretty light mix, the songs reveal a certain depth. "Land of Tears" with its eerie bass intermezzo, for instance, underlines the wistful attitude of the entire material very well.

But I am not sure whether it makes sense to pick out individual tracks, because the album shines with its holistic homogeneity. The inconspicuous intro stands in the shadow of the regular tracks, but this well known symptom does not affect the pretty good overall picture. Having said that, let me end with an additional hint concerning the intro. Its title, "Magic in Atmosphere", is a very fitting motto for the following 35 minutes. "Okkult" possesses a certain magic, at least in my humble opinion. Nevertheless, do not pay any price for this work.