Order of the Ebon Hand - XV: the Devil
Season Of Mist
Black Metal
9 songs (47'42")
Release year: 2005
Season Of Mist
Reviewed by Alex

As I recently bought some CDs from the obscure distro specializing in black metal, this album was thrown in as a free bonus. I am sure all of you had enough of those. Such albums have a tendency to turn out either an interesting surprise or a complete throwaway. No wonder the distro puts them in for free. Order of the Ebon Hand would probably fit right in the middle, as there are some moments of note on the album, but there just aren’t enough of them.

As my Dark Funeral review also appears this week, I was contemplating whether to give that one a tag of a “Major Event”. Dark Funeral has longevity and definitely stood at the beginning of the black metal style where playing speed is number one component. Greek band Order of the Ebon Hand took that archaic orthodox style to heart, mixed in some Satyricon and Ved Buens Ende riff influence and hereby XV: the Devil was born.

Made up of the members of Naer Mataron and Septic Flesh, Order of the Ebon Hand is obsessed with occult and mysticism, judging from the Tarot card theme, but first and foremost with monotonous repetitive hyberblasting speed. The real drummer is listed, but I just can’t fathom that this is not a machine producing all those blastbeats. The blast and guitar tremolo combo gets to the point of addictive and obscene with Order of the Ebon Hand. If the song is set out to be fast, then it goes mach speed without any variation. Even if it starts with an epic moment and a good rocking riff (You Are the Gleaming King), when it shows some bass guitar presence, eventually it still disintegrates into the “usual” approach. The only two songs that deviate from the blueprint are Gateway to Silence and Spellbound. The latter is a horrible piece with twangy guitar, monotonous rhythms and Cradle of Filth vocals. The former, however, is a standout on the album filled with sameness. On Gateway to Silence cathedral darkwave atmosphere, choral moments lead into ensuing guitar heaviness. Distorted guitar solo and saxophone at the end add more to the craziness further accentuated by vocals borrowed a tad too much from King Diamond’s most evil pieces.

Trying to keep the raw feel of the production, the band uses enhancements for choral moments and adds the firebreathing feeling to the banshee vocals floating above the rest of the music wall. With all of the layers, the music tends to sound bigger than it is.

On the fast blasting songs Order of the Ebon Hand is saved by some enjoyable melodies, monumental in For Marchosias, whirlwind in To Alloces, astral and almost tear-jerking in To Gremory. As much as these melodies please the first time you hear them, that is enough to process, enjoy them and put the disc away. XV: the Devil simply does not call for many repeated listens, every time I went through it I liked it less and less, so there you have this review before it all wore out on me.

Killing Songs :
For Marchosias, Gateway to Silence, To Gremory
Alex quoted 58 / 100
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