Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Glory Of Our Lord, With The Fury Of A Hellhammer

After Antestor released "The Return Of The Black Death" the band was silent for about 6 years. In that time they (or their label) re-issued the 2 first demos "The Defeat Of Satan (Featuring the "Despair" demo)". About a year after that the band appeared with a very much anticipated EP called "Det Tapte Liv" This ep featured all new material with one song that would appear on the up coming full length album. Featuring a new line-up with just Lars Stokstad as the sole founder and remaining member (as far as I can tell) who, along with a couple members of Christian unblack metal band Vaakevandring brought Antestor its current and apparently final sound (The bands disbandment was announced at the 2007 Endtime Festival).

"Det Tapte Liv" is the perfect EP. It features 2 blistering black metal tunes and 3 orchestral/piano pieces. If this were a full length, it may have gone the same route as Manowar's latest "Gods Of War" and killed momentum with to much orchestration. However, as an EP and a precurser to a new album whose sound no one could be sure would be, this gives the listener a decent sampling.

"Rites Of Death" opens the album in a pummelling blast of symphonic black metal. It's catchy and furious, with gothic undertones. "Med Hevede Sverd" is the other black metal tune and is melodic featuring orchestral/acoustic bits and a fine solo. There is a slight classic metal feel here and its nice to here some wailing solo's that are too often forgotten in black metal.

"Grief" is the first of the orchestral pieces and is a piano narrative that is sombre and eerie. I'm reminded of Danny Elfman in style. "Last Season" is a hymn like instrumental and the title track "Det Tapte Liv" ends the album with a majestic piano performance and bleak narrative.

This works well as an EP because of the heavy use of orchestral parts that are great pieces, but could weaken the overall brutality of a full length album. With "The Forsaken" the bands latest and possibly last effort, we are treated to a (un)black metal masterpiece.

The full length album starts off as well with "Rites Of Death" although slightly reworked most notably with the operatic intro/classical intro, but it's only 30 sec. before we get blasted into the bulk of this killer tune. "Old Times Cruelty" continues the assault with blistering speed and sorrowful melodic eeriness. The speed is unbelievable at times and this is in part due to the session drummer (ironically) Hellhammer of Mayhem fame who stepped in and recorded the drums for both "Det Tapte Liv" and "The Forsaken". His prowness around the drum kit shows not only in speed, but the subtle flourishes throughout that makes the drums standout. He is truly one of the best in his field.

"The Return" is probably the fastest track here, but also has a progressive feel with the keyboards and guitar solo. "As I Die" ends the black metal assault in the straight-forward sense, while adding the operatic vocals over the pummelling outro. The later half of the album has a real progressive sound especially on these tracks. The vocals for the better part of the album breach both black and death style which I love and the female vocals add sweet eeriness and the narrative bits (which is a Vaakevandring influence) creates vivid imagery throughout. Some clean male vocals add a gothic feel on "As I Die"

The orchestral/ classical elements heavily used on the previous EP are kept mostly to add atmosphere and melody to the otherwise brutal songs, but not solely as enhancement. "Raade" is a folk influenced instrumental with female vocals by Ann-Mari Edvardsen from the 3rd and the Mortal. The album closer is orchestral instrumental with a progressive feel and cool guitar solos.

"Vale Of Tears" is an interesting tune whose folk influence creates a western gunslinger sound while retaining a slower atmosperic black metal structure. "Via Dolorosa" is a bleakly poetic folk influenced black metal song with a sing a long chorus, which is rare in black metal. This is one of my favourite songs on this album. The title of favourite track goes to "The Crown I Carry" which blasts into us after the subtle instrumental "Raade". It starts with a killer thrash-like riff and vocals reminiscent of Twin Obscenity before pummeling us with a wall of symphonic black metal, interspersed with melodic solos and a lot of atmosphere. This is the song I like to skip back to after the album is done.

These albums are a great move forward for Antestor and a solid effort of which a whole new career could be forged. However, if wikipedia is correct and their disbandment official, then we have lost a great band who have helped pioneer an extreme metal scene for a God loving crowd.

That said, there is a slew of up and comers who are carving their way into the scene and I'll be looking at a few of these bands next, like Vaakevandring's demo and only release, and Crimson Moonlight, Drottnar, Frosthardr and the highly under-rated Slechtvalk.


Blogger dschalek said...

This is the only Antestor release that I have and I've only listened to it a few times. I'll give it another try. Interesting that Hellhammer's on drums...

6:12 PM  
Blogger etain_lavena said...

gosh always learn new things it:)

12:43 PM  
Blogger anonymous jones said...

Sound good. Great grow-out on that guy.

8:18 PM  

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