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Three shiny moon orbiting an ugly planet - 57%

Valfars Ghost, June 17th, 2016

There's some worthwhile stuff on Apocalyptic Raids. The main problem is that one of this EP’s songs is just one step above unbearable. This wouldn’t be a big issue if not for the fact that said song consists of almost half the release’s running time, forcing itself to take the role of centerpiece on an EP that would have been good in its absence. The other three songs take aspects that most people would see as weaknesses like sloppy playing, sandpaper-rough vocals, a general lack of technical skill, and horrible production values and twist them into something vibrant and powerful. If only that sort of passionate delivery could have been spread across the whole release, then Apocalyptic Raids would not resemble three gems scattered around a large heap of crap.

Those three gems, in case you weren’t paying attention, are the shorter songs and they’re full of exuberant playing and a vicious punk attitude. Actually, if we’re being honest here, they’re only gems in comparison to ‘Triumph of Death’. Essentially, they’re the byproducts of three Swiss guys blowing off steam by taking out their aggression on their instruments. The riffs and structuring are simplistic and the band seeks to play fast rather than well, resulting in some slipshod but energetic execution as they blaze through these tracks. Despite the numerous flaws in the composition and execution, these are fun, cathartic songs with a bouncing energy that makes up for their amateurish nature. And the greasy tone straight from the dingy garage this release was surely recorded in is charming in its own ugly way. This EP is only essential for Celtic Frost completists but for the rest of us, the three shorter songs are well worth the occasional Youtube listen.

Now for the proverbial turd in the punch bowl. 'Triumph of Death' is such a big part of this release and such a weird outlier that it needs its own paragraph. At 9:23, the track is not only far too long but it also sees the band sticking to none of its strengths. Hellhammer was at its best when the songs were fast and aggressive. This song, however, clearly based more on Black Sabbath's example than Venom's, is slow and not very forceful. It's still got the same roughness and simplicity as the other tracks, but neither of those attributes work in the band's favor at this speed. It also starts with a long, aimless section that treats the listener to some truly horrendous yowls from Tom, who at least manages not to sound like a wounded hyena elsewhere on this EP.

None of these tracks are masterpieces, though three of them do have that refreshingly simple-minded and in-your-face nature that punk and early extreme metal capably deliver most of the time. Even for something in the vein of Venom or early Sodom though, they're just a little too poorly executed and basic as far as songwriting is concerned to stand above most other proto-black metal offerings from this era. Adding to this the fact that half of Apocalyptic Raids is impossible to recommend due to the presence of one gigantic album-ruining song, this EP is sadly robbed of the high quality it could have had.