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Hell Militia - Jacob's Ladder - 80%

filthgrinding_scum, November 28th, 2012

Another entry into the canon of French filthdom by Hell Miltia is a stand-up release, whilst not completely original it should still deliver up enough substance to keep you sated until the next NoEvDia release.

Hell Militia are definitely starting to hit their stride now with their new album 'Jacob's Ladder', a journey that began with 'Last Station on the Road to Death' is continued with this new full-length and it is good to see them start to carve something out for themselves even if it's not particuarly revolutionary.

Hell Militia hail from France and are made up of some of the best members from the French scene with members from Antaeus, Mutiliation, Arkhon Infaustus, Temple Of Baal, Vorkreist and Merrimack having been part of their conflagration at some point or another unfortunately though for quite some time they were little more than a poor man's Arkhon Infaustus, spewing forth pretty standard black/death metal; with their last album however they started to progress with their sound towards a more atypical sound that has more in common with Deathspell, 'Orthodoxyn' era Arkhon Infaustus and Ofermod, now obviously the fact they are so easily compared to these bands shows that they may be lacking in the originality department but their newer works are definitely a step forward from the generic black death efforts that the produced with their first two albums.

So Jacob's Ladder whilst not very original is executed well, lots of influence can be felt on this album from bands that are part of the same scene as Hell Militia, there are strange chord ringing out across the songs that has become somewhat of a trademark for Deathspell (Black Projector), menacing death riffs fueled by blasts that can be heard in Temple of Baal (Deus Irae), some very groovy riffs (Jonah) from the Ondskapt school of thought and an oppressive atmosphere which smacks of Ofermod (Death Worship), there is also a decidely Scandinavian influence that creeps through now and again, seemingly giving a nod to the Norwegian scene. So I realise that I've told you that you can find this album from other bands but in all honesty the aforementiond bands are at the forefront of black metal and it is foolish to believe that their influence won't be felt from now on, especially coupled with the outlook that all these bands share, this is compounded by the fact that Hell Militia has a deep intertwined history with these bands. One would hope however that they would be able to take these influence and craft something solely for themselves out of these parts akin to how Ascension have done, another part of me feels that Hell Militia aren't really trying to do anything completley new but just try to produce black metal that is slightly above the average of releases nowadays and they have done. The album is executed very well, whilst not original by any means it does not detract from the experience at all, their influences are part together in a cohesive manner producing a very nice slab of blackened death that should leave you far more satisfied than anything Belphegor, Behemoth or Hate have produced in the past 5 years.

Jacob's Ladder also marks a more refined ideal towards the bands philosophy, moving away from a more straight forward 'blasphemous' stance and lyrical content to a more thoughtful practice in line with the depth and more learned approach that bands of whom the members are part of exercise. Personally I would like a little more depth to the lyrics and feel that slightly more might have been achieved with their musings on Chrsitian dogma and the literature, their chosen field could have been much more introspective with the story of Jacob's Ladder being rather interesting in my eyes, aside from just the title's name, Christian iconography is always open to interpretation and points of view that can be very interesting, e.g. Deathspell, however this is a small issue and doesn't really detract from the experience of the album.

Overall this is nothing special when compared to its obvious influences however Hell Miltia are still ahead of the curve when compared with the state of the rest of the black metal scene, it speaks volumes on how strong the French scene is in comparison to the rest of black metal when even the 'second-string' bands are far beyond what some of the other country's scenes best bands have to offer.

(Originally written for