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The rise of heresy - 98%

Felix 1666, October 10th, 2015

First of all, I admit that the cover artwork looks like an awkward advertising poster for an idiotic Halloween party or something like that. (And believe me, I am an expert for awkwardness. Just have a look at my syntax.) As a margin, I am still undecided whether the yellow ball is the sun or a Swiss cheese without holes. Due to my cluelessness in respect of the cover, I would like to turn to the music immediately. To put it in a nutshell: Ketzer's debut is a gargantuan piece of devilish thrash metal and probably the best German black thrash debut of all times.

Already the intro offers a great melody line. Woeful guitars announce the coming of the anti-Christian black thrash prophets. They preach the dogmas of darkness and cruelty. While combining vehemence with structure, they are never at risk to neglect the necessary amount of melodies. Fantastic melodies! The cascading guitars at the end of the title track as well as the combination of drilling riffs and pleading guitar tones at the beginning of "Crushing the Holy" represent just two of many examples. During the total playing time of "Satan's Boundaries Unchained", the formation celebrates an orgy of sustainable riffs. The album has nothing in common with this crude kind of "funny" black thrashers, that enjoy to present primitively designed numbers. Ketzer must be taken seriously and their songs do not lack of creative intelligence.

With respect to the music, it is obvious that Ketzer cannot be compared with the well-known British war machine called Bolt Thrower. Nevertheless, there exists a parallel between these bands. Due to their maximum of homogeneity, Bolt Thrower albums are rather a monolithic monument than a collection of single songs. The debut of Ketzer has the same effect, not at least because of the fact that some of the songs flow into each other. But do not confuse the here described type of homogeneity with a lack of different song patterns. Each and every song is highly exciting. In terms of dynamic compositions, the band has the hang of it. Ketzer do not appear as debutants. The guys have already reached a phenomenally high degree of musicianship with the consequence that their compositions do not lack of breaks, tempo changes and various riffs. No doubt, especially the pinpoint riffs in combination with the sometimes almost stubbornly galloping guitar lines make the ambitious formation stand out from the broad mass of its competitors. Although I am a fan of the black and thrash symbiosis in general, I admit that infectious tracks like the excellent "The Fire to Conquer the World" are hard to find in the whole wide cosmos of this bastard genre.

But that is not all. The music impresses with a further amazing feature, because Ketzer sound absolutely independent. Their approach is not based on that of the role models like Desaster. In comparison with their persevering German compatriots, Ketzer's sound is less raw. Especially the guitars do not deliver the maximum brutality. Nevertheless, the debutants create a dense atmosphere without lacking determination, motivation or aggressiveness. Generally speaking, this is either no low budget production or they made the best of their limited financial means. From my point of view, "Satan's Boundaries Unchained" sounds simply perfect.

If your only intention is to look for the fly in the ointment, you will be happy that the lyrics do not shine with unique features. Of course, we have heard lines like "The symbol of the satanic cult / Brings you to your knees / Dying through the inverted cross / You'll never rest in peace" a thousand times before. Anyway, I understand these lyrics as a commitment to the genre and I cannot say that they cause any damage. I am therefore sorry to inform you that Ketzer's first full-length is an almost perfect exhibit in order to show the splendour of black thrash. I would like to recommend you my personal highlights, but they change with every run. Perhaps this is the highest praise for an album and its creators.

Interlocutors of infernal glee - 78%

autothrall, September 19th, 2012

Though the blackened thrash metal category has long held its strongest presence in Scandinavian territories, Germans have not been far behind in producing some of its underground favorites. After all, the niche WAS birthed by records like Sentence of Death, Obsessed by Cruelty, and Pleasure to Kill just as much as it was by the Bathory s/t, and groups like Desaster and Witchburner have long carried its torch, passing its hellish flame on to upstarts such as Rhineland-Palatinate's Cruel Force and Nocturnal. One of latest circles of tyrants reaping these rounds is Ketzer, who've generated quite a buzz in this sphere, and after spending some quality time with both their full-lengths, I would have to agree that the praise is indeed warranted, even if I've not been entirely won over.

Satan's Boundaries Unchained is not the sort of black/thrash you'd liken directly to the ripping, raw and ruddy speed metal influence of pioneers Venom, Piledriver, or Bulldozer. In fact, the band I was most reminded of is Desaster, with similar, epic and incendiary chord progressions that draw upon the ire and might of Bathory circa 1984-1988. However, they do have those no-frill acceleration runs in cuts like "The Fire to Conquer the World" and "I Am Your Unholy God" where they crisply conjure forth Satanic speed metal circa Slayer and Destruction, walls of tremolo terror erupting into mid-paced, mosh readied rhythms that do wonders to help balance out the pacing of the debut as a whole. Admittedly, a lot of the note patterns Ketzer whips up are pretty predictable, nothing you haven't heard a dozen or so times in the past, but they offset that fact with a lot of atmospheric, airy tremolo melodies that give it an edge. They do not simply throw 2-3 riffs at you and expect them to stick like a lot of the cruder black/speed cults; all of the tracks on Satan's Boundaries Unchained are well-developed and fulfilling.

I'd also comment how much I loved the drums on this record, complementing the typical, driving speed and black metal beats of antiquity with busier snares and fills than I might have expected. The guitar tone is solid, thinning out beautifully for the tremolo picking sequences, condensed for the classic feel of the chords. The echoed rasp of front man Infernal Destroyer is nothing new for black metal or black/thrash in general, but it does an efficient job of resonating out into the haunted night like an abyssal kite (the bird, not the hobby) as it surveys the torment and damnation beneath it. The occult and violent themes and titles found here are your standard fare, ubiquitous tracts of Satanic terrain you can find elsewhere, but this isn't much of a detriment, since most of us who enjoy this cursed hybrid of styles revel in its unholiness, and the band seems to have further developed its lyrical material on the followup.

Ultimately, this is a savage and entertaining debut that fans of Desaster and Swedish acts like Bewitched, Nifelheim and Witchery should absolutely check out. It didn't knock all the teeth out of my face like Antichrist's Forbidden World or Nocturnal's Violent Revenge, but it's confident, competent and carnal enough to enjoy through numerous exposures, and quite consistent in its hellish enthusiasm.


Best black/thrash record in ages! - 90%

vorfeed, May 3rd, 2010

This is the first album from Ketzer, a German band playing black/thrash metal.

The production on this album sounds a bit thin, with the emphasis on the high-end. The guitar is crisp and clear, with just the right amount of distortion, and the shouted vocals have a touch of reverb. The bass is just audible beneath everything else, and the drums are also just where they should be in the mix. I can't help but think a bit more low-end would have benefited this album tremendously, though... the production could have used more heft.

In terms of songwriting, Ketzer is somewhere between old Desaster and early Destroyer 666. These are catchy, aggressive, thrashing songs, and for the most part, the whole album is full-speed-ahead. The bands does a great job making each song memorable, though: some of the more epic songs (like "The Fire to Conquer the World", with its headbangable main riff and shout-along gang-vocal section) will get stuck in your head the first time through. "To Each Saint His Candle" is another great song, chock-full of excellent riffing and inspiring vocal lines. As a matter of fact, the lyrics are worth mentioning throughout -- this band manages to pack a ton of feeling and meaning into these songs, so multiple listens will be rewarded...

Other songs are a bit less complicated and more in the straightforward thrashing vein, like "Warlust" and "Inverted Cross". I personally prefer the more epic sound, but these songs are just as good, especially the latter, which is catchy as hell. There's a surprising amount of variety here, considering the style, which is always nice to see. The cover art is worth mentioning, too; this is one of the best-looking cover paintings I've seen in a while. The LP is more than worth getting, as it comes with a huge poster of it!

The last few years have seen lackluster releases from many of the best black/thrash bands, but fortunately, Ketzer is ready to Take This Torch! If you like Desaster, Destroyer 666, Gospel of the Horns, Urn, Nocturnal, Urgrund, etc., you must hear this record. Highly recommended.

Standout Tracks: "The Fire to Conquer the World", "To Each Saint His Candle", "My Triumph"

Review by vorfeed:


ShadowSouled, March 6th, 2010

I really dislike using expletives in reviews; it's highly unprofessional and using it tends to imply a certain limitation in vocabulary. However, sometimes strong language IS the best way to describe music. Ketzer's Satan's Boundaries Unchained is one such example. This album was released in 2009 and went by largely unnoticed and unsung; a shame, because the material presented actually does merit a "HOLY FUCKING SHIT!" this time.

This is Ketzer's first full-length album, consisting of 9 tracks, one of which is an intro, and clocking in at 41 minutes. The intro in question is a short two-minute affair, whose riffs nonetheless carry a certain "majesty" to them that makes it very memorable. The title track then erupts into a blistering onslaught of blackened thrash which downright pummels the listener into the ground. The drumming is murderously precise, the vocals somewhat reminiscent of Sodom's Agent Orange; however, the riffs are what truly make this album what it is: There has hardly been anything this close to what blackened thrash should sound like since Cold Steel... and A Call to Arms were released. With this comparison in mind, it should come as no surprise that Mersus of Destroyer 666 was behind the crystal clear production on this album.

Ketzer are 2009's unsung heroes. While this album may not have recieved all the attention it deserved (most likely due to other, more prominent bands' releases coming out at the same time), those few people who heard it are not likely to forget it anytime soon. One of the best, if not the best, releases of this genre to come out last year. Highly recommended.