Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Merciful mayhem mixed by a blacksmith - 75%

Gutterscream, May 16th, 2005
Written based on this version: 1988, 12" vinyl, Gargoyle Records

This is easily one of the loopier releases of the year I graduated high school. Brocas Helm is a band with a moniker that always sounded South American in origin (like Holocausto, Tormenta, and Dorsal Atlantica) and with a production that is maybe a little less lousy than Sepultura’s first three releases. Actually, I’m not sure if it’s the fault of the production that it sounds like it was recorded in traffic or at the back of a meat packing plant. There’s this obscure cacophony throughout the album’s lifespan much like the intro to “Black Death”, weird muddled nuances that are almost industrial drawl that just cannot be part of the actual songwriting process, like it was recorded live on the side of a freeway in the rain and someone drove by with a radio blaring, maybe a long boom crane grumbling nearby, thunder, airplanes overhead, perhaps a timber mill just over yonder. Of course there’re varying levels of this stuff from song to song, most noticeable in “Hell’s Whip”, a song that would be quite impressive if it weren’t for the din of a recycling truck collecting this week’s glass in the background.

The four-piece’s sophomore effort comes many moons after their debut with label problems/lack of label interest seemingly the culprits, and since I haven’t had the luck of hearing the debut, I can only go on Abominatrix’s (ed. and now failsafeman's as well) review of Into Battle. With side one of Black Death, about 70% of the Maiden or Angel Witch semblance has either been frightened away or trapped in time, ‘cos this resembles more the coarse, blue collar stagger of Motorhead that only hints of Euro-metal gleam. Side two, on the other hand, is more awash in what the debut apparently shined with, but we’ll get to that.

After the minute long noise intro, “Black Death” rumbles to life with a riff Lemmy would shine his iron cross with, then with a heavier contention comes the rest of the song, albeit layered in disorder. Shards of N.M.E. clip my mind as each member seems in his own world of chaos, like toddlers all talking at the same time that somehow manage to keep the main topic in sight. Unlike the title cut, “Prepare for Battle” rings with a fairly tight, conjoined and odd vocal/music combo that Macabre comically rallies now and then (think “Trampled to Death”). Aside from the disharmony already described above, “Hell’s Whip” is actually a nifty power metal ditty, musically proficient with not-quite-falsetto vocals aiding the catchiness. “Satan’s Prophets” is a ruckus; a mean, greasy-handed roundhouse that just claws for the throat from the start, ending side two with jagged propulsion.

Side two bursts into “Fly High” and “Prophet’s Scream”, two songs that make no attempt at hiding the galloping, tight Maiden influence side one threw to a wind that wasn't so gallant and laudable. Essential solos aren’t skimped on, but the noisy backdrop that still hasn’t subsided erodes much of the fluency. An atypical keyboard and lightly played acoustic ensemble is “The Chemist”, suggesting a medieval inspiration like a band of peasants playing forlornly down at the river district. Uniting the smooth, talented Euro sound with a heavier, granular pace and a grunt’s attitude is “Fall of the Curtain”. Clean vocals are suffocated, sounding distant and almost whimsical, but why should the outrageous production show them clemency?

No doubt the abnormal affair that switches gears wildly, if not unevenly, and somehow reminds me of a concert pianist running a backhoe. Black Death has little place for white clouds of normalcy and predictability, and the poor schlub who bought this thinking in In Battle part two terms more than likely pawned it off on an enemy or the railroad tracks, but for the sheer malcontent of it all I’ll keep it around.