Baptism - V: The Devil's Fire
Season Of Mist
Black Metal
8 songs (45:54)
Release year: 2016
Season Of Mist
Reviewed by Goat

Once one of the kvltest acts from their native Finland, over time Baptism have smoothed out their sound a little and moved away from making black metal that sounds like it was recorded in someone’s garage. Which in some circles is equivalent to signing to a major label and cutting your hair! but fear not, this is still orthodox satanic black metal to the core, however modern and progressive it may seem in comparison to their older works. After Natus Ex Ignis, a brief yet queasy ambient opener that is all sinister drones and breathy whispers, first track proper Satananda kicks off with wall-of-noise guitars and Lord Sargofagian’s rasping yowl atop blastbeats, a subtle melodic touch enriching the core brutality. Business as usual then? Not quite. Thanks largely to a small number of guest vocalists, V: The Devil’s Fire manages to stand out from the norm, starting with Horna’s Mynni Luukkainen on Satananda providing some spinechilling clean vocals, deep and almost invocatory, like some dark hymn. It’s quite the change for Baptism, sounding like a shift towards Enslaved territory rather than the true and pure Finnish snowstorms that we’re used to, but is very effective, and very enjoyable.

The most stunning of these guest spots is on The Sacrament of Blood and Ash, the track starting with typical brutality and then being transformed from melodic black metal into atmospheric death/doom at the chorus thanks to some more clean singing, this time from Swallow the Sun’s Mikko Kotamäki. It may annoy some Wisdom & Hate fanboys, but is utterly gripping and results in a spellbindingly atmospheric song; black metal at its best. The mixture of the band’s typically passionate black metal blasting and these forays into experimental territory is quite a potent one, resulting in remarkably good black metal. Considering the already powerful instrumental skills of Baptism members, it’s to be expected; on this album the band expands beyond Lord S to include brothers SG7 (Horna) and LRH (Deathchain) on guitar and drums, TG (True Black Dawn) on lead guitar, as well as former ...And Oceans bassist Syphon.

It’s a good enough collection of talent to give the likes of the title track added intensity and purpose, a melodic edge adding atmospheric heft and inviting Drudkh comparisons, while the shredding guitar solo is just awesome. The melodic riffs turn epic on Abyss, allowing the guitarists room to truly impress as they work through some beautiful lead guitar, while the widdly clouds of riffage that make Cold Eternity so good switch to doom grooves partway through without losing intensity or seeming like some avant-garde shift for the sake of edginess; masterful songwriting. You can say the same for the slower Malignant Shadows, stately opening melodies and hate-ridden spoken word setting the scene for when the band kick into high gear two minutes in, giving the blasting drive and venom. And final track Buried With Him utilises Demilich’s Antti Boman as a guest growler to give the song’s melancholic but still violent air an added touch of doomy heaviness - perhaps seeming secondary to the wonders of earlier, but still damn good. As is the album overall; a slight broadening of Baptism’s horizons leading to great results.



Killing Songs :
Satananda, The Sacrament of Blood and Ash, Cold Eternity, Buried With Him
Goat quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Baptism that we have reviewed:
Baptism - Morbid Wings of Sathanas reviewed by Daniel and quoted 85 / 100
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