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From the darkest depths - 85%

androdion, July 16th, 2012

Belial from Finland is a strange case of an underground metal band turned into mainstream music, although it is not unheard of. Just see the case with fellow countrymen Disgrace and a good parallelism can be made. Whereas Disgrace has continued to have a prolific career Belial had a short lived one, which was confined to a mere five year period from demo stage to perpetual dusk. The duration of the band’s output is shortened even more if you take into consideration that their “metal phase” was comprised of only the first four of those years, between 1991 and 1994. In that period however the band was able to deliver a few recordings that will remain forever as obscure underground gems, although they have been unearthed to a new life in the recent past. The return in full force of old school death metal has certainly made some seemingly lost recordings more easily available, giving underground fans a great opportunity for scouring the lost gems of the past.

It was in the second year of the three mentioned above that Belial released their first EP, after self-releasing and selling out their demo, The Gods Of The Pit, the year before. Newcomers to this band should be warned of the inherent brutality contained within, the sheer weight of some of the songs and the rampant and crushing brutality that exudes from your speakers the moment you press play. It’s not that there isn’t more brutal stuff out there because there is, but the delivery of the band is only comparable to that of an attack from a rabid wild beast. It constantly mauls at you with ferocious intensity and leaves little to be spared in a bloody frenzy of Finnish styled death metal mixed with the most extreme branches of the second wave explosion. Much like if Convulse and Darkthrone suddenly got into a practice room and jammed together.

There’s only twenty minutes on this record but that doesn’t detract from none of what I said before, even though the atmospheric intro leaves you with a feeling that this won’t be as nearly destructive as I’ve been saying. It only takes a minute and the first riff of “The Invocation” to convince you otherwise though, as the gruesome vocals lines suddenly explode in a raging turmoil of tremolo guitar riffs and blasting drums. This is the band’s first recorded song and it has become a staple of their sound, being edited and inserted in several recordings over the years. It certainly encompasses everything the band is about and is crushingly brutal, both in the sheer power of the main riff and when it speeds up into blast beat galore. Suddenly you have another atmospheric segment that begins the following, “Of Servant Of Belial”, an invocation rite that brings an echoing tremolo section that again is the herald of death and destruction. Suddenly the room darkens and the blasting returns to bash you against the wall once again, this time for nearly six excruciating minutes.

The whole record screams of satanic rites of demonic invocation and has a bit of a horror movie vibe in the small chants and spoken word passages, something further shown on “Lost Souls”; one of the most brutal songs in here that proceeds to punish you in the same fashion as before. The small interlude, “Rise Of Hecate”, is again a nod to this creepy atmosphere the band tries to bring into this record, with agonizing screams taunting your sanity and paving the way for the remaining two songs. Both show Belial doing what they do best, blasting away through blackened hymns of perversion and unrelenting hatred, with the first already unveiling some hints of what would come in their full-length the next year. The closer, “Voices Beyond”, is another staple song of the band, being present in both their demo and their second EP, and bears an uncanny resemblance to “The Invocation” in terms of riffing and brutal delivery. It’s definitely a song to close the record with a bang as it fustigates your soul for three minutes of intense blasting and rapid-fire tremolo riffs.

It’s a small and savage ride this little EP and it makes you feel like those 20 minutes were much more as you find yourself thoroughly exhausted, such is the intensity of the beating you’ve just received. Belial makes a just name of its demonic branding as the listener is enveloped in a sacrificial mass to the underworld, only to find himself locked away in the Seventh Circle of Hell. Brutal, unrelenting and violent are repeated adjectives throughout this review, but the fact is that fewer would be more fitting to actually describe the music at hand and few would relate more accordingly with the black hymns present here. Approach this EP and this band with a certain degree of caution and take into consideration that there won’t be anything but extreme violence here. If that’s your turf though you should definitely try this one, it won’t disappoint.

Intense - 98%

ArtOfWar, May 12th, 2004

The debut album from Belial on Austria's Lethal Records is, without question, one of the heaviest Black/Death Metal albums I have ever heard. It starts off with a creepy little intro, then smashes into a re-recorded version of, in my opinion, Belial's signature track, "The Invocation." This version is much heavier and darker then the one that appeared on their "Gods of the Pit" demo, as Belial added more spoken word interludes and hoarse whispering to the mix. After this, Belial rips through 20 minutes of some of the most intense music in the history of the underground scene. This album just rages along at a breakneck pace, and doesn't let up fast enough for you to catch your breath. My only small complaint is the length of this album, but that is minor in comparison to what Belial does with the little time they have here.

On a side note, this release featured 2 different covers for some reason. The original (which I have, and which is the rarer of the 2) was a rather cheap looking, almost xerox'ed scene of a mountain landscape in the woods, with a black moon hovering in the sky, in black and white, with some blue here and there, and the band's logo in blue in the upper left hand corner, and the album title in the lower right hand corner. The second cover was the hand holding whatever that is in the photo, with the album title in white in the upper right hand corner, and the band logo in red in the lower right hand corner. I have no idea why this was done, other then perhaps only a limited number of copies had the original artwork.

This album has been long out of print, thanks to the thieving bastards that ran Lethal Records. However, I have seen 1 or 2 distros still carrying it (with the second cover artwork), and I'm sure there are a few traders out there with it as well. In any case, pick this up at all costs if you can.