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Reign in Blood > Missa pro Defunctis > Reviews > Felix 1666
Reign in Blood - Missa pro Defunctis

Reign in black - 95%

Felix 1666, August 23rd, 2019
Written based on this version: 2019, CD, Iron Bonehead Productions (Digipak)

"Raining blooood - from a lacerated sky..." - oh, I beg your pardon, wrong record. Here we have Reign in Blood from Germany. First thing I know about them is that I absolutely do not know anything about them. Second thing is that they release their comeback via Iron Bonehead and this is usually something that makes me shiver - for good reasons! Too many chaotic albums have seen the light, because the permanently busy German label gave "promising" musicians a chance. At the end, everything was completely destroyed, in particular my nerves. Old stories aside, "Missa pro Defunctis" does not focus on total devastation. The first regular track, "Dawn of a Dying Soul", scores with a voluminous overall appearance, an all-embracing melody and, well, passion. Right from the get-go, it becomes clear that the two artists behind the project celebrate their personal dawn of their black hearts. No, the comeback does not really sound like the true Mayhem, but I guess it needs a lot of work and fervour to pen an album like "Missa pro Defunctis". It's energetic, violent and vehement, but it also has fascinating melodies and its non-conventional song patterns do not lack comprehensibility. No doubt, the duo did not start the recordings without high ambitions.

Compared with thrash or traditional metal, black metal is less dependent on the quality of its riffs, simply because there is always this atmospheric component as well. But this does not mean that Reign in Blood neglected this guitar-related factor. Their talent for the creation of great and profound riffs gets obvious in the title track. A stirring, somehow boiling riff pushes the opening drum into the background and sets the sail for another hellish journey through frightening crater landscapes. The majestic size of many parts of this track, and of the remaining material as well, can drive the audience mad and sometimes the competent duo reminds me of a harsher version of Geist, another great German black metal unit - listen to their masterpiece "Galeere". Do it right now! If you do not like its title track, take a look in your passport and realize that your name is Wimpy Poser. You say I overshoot the mark?

However, Reign in Blood have nothing in common with dudes who hate infernal sounds. Even better, they also do not join the ranks of those combos that put two or three strong pieces at the beginning of the album before they present fillers, fillers and even more fillers. "Missa pro Defunctis" does not reveal tunes which have nothing to say. The high level of quality - as well as the enormous degree of intensity - remains more or less the same during the entire playtime. This is not to say that the extremely heavyweight album lacks dynamic, by far not. This detail just underlines the fact that the Germans worked meticulously on the material to realize their aforementioned ambitions in the best possible manner. Not to mention the vocals. They express all forms of human chasms in a skilful way. Perhaps the lead singer was in a kind of delirium during the recordings, who knows?

Production-wise, I just can raise my iron, blood-filled cup - oh shit, it's just raspberry juice - and drink a toast to the sound engineers. The remarkable density of the mix, in particular the merciless guitar sound, proves evidence that someone did the job who has internalized the magic of black metal very well. And in the case of Reign in Blood, we speak about pristine, brutal black metal that does not lack great melodies as well. Trendhoppers will have no good time with this diabolic and steadfast document of the true essence, because its fundament is deeply rooted in the old school of the black movement. So it's up to you to discover the cruel charm of songs such as "Black Hole" whose smooth flow at the beginning could originate from Magoth as well, but its excellent melody line at the end gives the number an individual touch. Or enjoy the icy riffs and lines of "Metamorphose with the Universe", another embodiment of pure blackness. Even the almost industrial-influenced "Anima" hits the nail on the head while swallowing the listener pleasurably in a black maelstrom at the end. In short, I am very impressed by this almost unique output, even though the top position of Slayer's bloody reign remains - naturally - untouched.