Azarath - Blasphemers' Maledictions
Witching Hour Productions
Death/Black Metal
11 songs (45:09)
Release year: 2011
Official Myspace
Reviewed by Charles
A new label, and yellower cover art (making a change from their customary ‘demon drawn on some black’ approach), but beyond that a change of direction for Azarath? Well, not really. They remain one of the most raucously, bludgeoningly heavy bands in war metal, defined by the battering onslaught of Inferno’s (more famous for his work in Behemoth) drumming, pushed way forward in the mix and left to duel bloodily with Bart’s tangled riffs. Blasphemers Maledictions, though, is probably a more nuanced album than 2009’s Praise the Beast, and certainly more so than 2006’s wondrously barbarous Diabolic Impious Evil. This isn’t saying much, of course, but there are some noticeable changes in the band’s approach.

They certainly shouldn’t be overstated. Opener Supreme Reign of Tiamat (and most other tracks) could fit seamlessly onto any of their previous albums. It burns with livid energy: contorted, restless death metal riffs which writhe like a wounded serpent, percussion which steamrollers the rest of the sound, and Necrosodom’s fantastic-sounding blackened roar. As the album progresses, though, a heightened sense of ambition starts to peek through, which whilst only embodied in relatively minor tweaks does give the album a slightly flashier aura. In particular, I’m talking about the solos. The band always had them, sure. But on this record, it seems that nearly every track has passages where the lead guitar takes centre stage, firing out virtuosic solos which suggest a newfound desire to show off. Crushing Hammer of the Antichrist, for example, features an extravagant, screaming lead which sounds a little like the garbled fusion influences of artsier death metal bands like the brilliant Pyrrhon.

In addition, in terms of songwriting Blasphemers Maledictions feels like a slightly more varied album. Behold the Satan’s Sword cultivates thrashy Melechesh stylings, and Under the Eyes of the Lord is a menacing slow-burner which initially reminds me of Behexen’s frightening experimentations with down-tempo black metal on By the Blessing of Satan. Later, though, it segues cleverly into ferocious death-thrash, driven once again by Inferno’s athletic drumming. But for the most part, tracks like The Abjection or Holy Possession are very familiar and largely representative: riotously heavy blackened death, obsessed by Satan, although perhaps a bit more focused and precise than the flailing battery of previous releases. The album therefore makes up for lacking the simple viciousness of works like Diabolic Impious Evil by emphasising focus and instrumental flair.

Killing Songs :
Crushing Hammer of the Antichrist, Under the Will of the Lord
Charles quoted 88 / 100
Other albums by Azarath that we have reviewed:
Azarath - Praise the Beast reviewed by Charles and quoted 90 / 100
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