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Akhenaten believes the hype - 38%

Noktorn, May 17th, 2010

I don't really like this, but the reasons WHY I don't like it are more interesting than they usually are.

All the pieces of Judas Iscariot's style are intact here: the distinctive riffing style, the binary, clumsy drumming, the raw, grumbling vocals, you know the drill. The difference here is that it all feels intentional, as though at this point in his career, Akhenaten started reading reviews of his old albums and started defining his style more and more in line with what others thought it was. What makes most Judas Iscariot music so special is the feeling that it comes from nowhere, as though Akhenaten was completely oblivious as to what was going on and was just churning out songs in his basement. That feeling is absent here and replaced with a sterile sort of meta-understanding of the band and music, losing all of the project's amateurish charm and really removing what made albums like 'Heaven In Flames' so great.

Let's take the riffs: yes, they adhere to the melodic style of previous Judas Iscariot releases. In fact, they adhere to it too much, and it seems like this release is really a caricature of what a Judas Iscariot release is supposed to sound like rather than what the band actually is. Where's the spontaneous, bizarre stuff like 'From Hateful Visions'? Where's the off-the-cuff song structures? Those things are absent in favor of something that's a lot more professional but also a lot more sterile. Many of the subtle elements of previous Judas Iscariot releases are absent from this one; slight riff variations, delicately refined yet still raw production, and, in the end, the sense that the music is more than just black metal for black metal's sake.

I guess I can't say that any of these songs are bad per se as they'd probably be perfectly adequate coming from another band, but for Judas Iscariot they're mediocre and phoned in. The first two tracks are conventional blast and tremolo numbers with decent riffs but no real surplus of inspiration, 'Journey Through Visions Of War' provides 'variation' by being slower than the first two, and 'March Upon A Mighty Throne' is a guitar-only track because, well, Judas Iscariot does guitar-only tracks! The only reason this sounds like Judas Iscariot is because it's MADE TO SOUND THAT WAY, not a natural outgrowth of Akhenaten's style. I'm not really sure what went wrong here but it really feels like a case of an artist believing his own hype.

This is a pretty unnecessary release and even though it's not really awful its lack of inspiration is so clear and massive that it's kind of uncomfortable to listen to. Stick with the project's earlier output and pretend this didn't happen; if you get what Judas Iscariot was really about, you'll be disappointed.