Review Summary: A hellishly brutal contribution to Blackened Death Metal with an epic, crushing sound; if demons rose to destroy the earth, this is the sound that they'd make. Definitely one of the best Metal releases of 2011.
Poland is a country that, as usual, has not disappointed with its metal releases this year. 2011 has seen Decapitated reformed and reinvigorated after their tragic accident in November 2007, and some fine releases from other Polish artists, such as Cultes des Ghoules. And so on 6th June this year, another great Polish release graced our ears, being the brutal and crushing effort that is Blasphemers’ Maledictions, by Blackened Death Metal band, Azarath.
From the outset, this album is an unrelenting assault (in a good way!) on the ears; its crisp production (overseen by Behemoth’s Zbigniew Promiński, more commonly known as “Inferno”, who, like Azarath, also hails from the town of Tczew) lends to it a highly professional sheen; everything combines to create a truly diabolical sound. To truly relate to you the sound of this album, I want you to imagine a host of demons breaking free from a millennia-long incarceration in a mountain stronghold, smashing their way triumphantly through its summit, and readying themselves to wreak havoc upon the earth below with all their accumulated spite and rage. Now, imagination aside, the actual sound of the album…
Well, for the majority of tracks, the pace is speedy, and although the guitars (played by Bartlomiej “Bart” Szudek) have an almost tinny tone during most of the tremolo-picked riffs, the bass (Played by Piotr “P.” Ostrowski) and drums (played by Inferno!) are always there to keep the sound beefy and brutal, should one or both of the guitars wish to join them in producing a crushing riff. One could describe the guitars as, in a way, “detached” from the album’s crushing core sound during some tracks such as , for example, “Behold the Satan’s Sword”, allowing them to switch flexibly between black metal and death metal aesthetics as well as luscious solos such as on what is, in my opinion, the track that best incorporates all of the album’s elements into a cohesive whole, “Firebreath of Blasphemy and Scorn” (The track is intense and evil, with a fair balance of the elements of death metal and black metal, two fantastic solos and an absolutely devastating black/death metal breakdown, which is truly a highlight of the album).
None of this would be the same however, were it not for the vicious contributions of vocalist, Marek “Necrosodom” Lechowski. You know how earlier I asked you to imagine demons breaking free from incarceration in a mountain stronghold? This is the man whose voice conjures that image. His voice is a distinctive, gurgling, retching, venomous mid-range black metal rasp, sometimes dipping into a more “Death Metal” low growl, such as after the intro to “Under the Will of the Lord”, another track which is testament to their skilful dynamic shifts between black and death metal styles. Also on this track, we have a slightly different vocal style, an enraged shout, which surfaces again momentarily on “Lucifer’s Rising”, yet its effect on the prior is truly immense. It captures in that moment, true, unbridled hatred and rage, every instrument combining with the utmost intensity to really capture an aspect of the true essence of metal. Another great, monstrous moment like this can be found on the intro to “Behold the Satan’s Sword”, with Lechowski issuing one of his distinctive gurgling screams, which combines with a pacey, pinch-harmonic laden riff to create some real head-banging mayhem.
Yet, as much as it pains me to admit it, the album does begin to lose steam a little towards the end; the first half is definitely stronger. If power-listening to the album, one may become a little tired of its aesthetics as it draws to a close, even though it does retain its hellish brutality. I feel that a couple of slightly more dissonant riffs on the last two tracks (although they do have some very strong moments) and their very steady delivery takes something away from them; It would have been nice to have had a few more tempo changes in the last two, and for the final track to have perhaps ended on Lechowski’s bout of vicious screaming, as the riff used seems to make the album end somewhat abruptly.
Regardless of these few flaws, I can conclude that Blasphemers’ Maledictions is definitely one of the stronger releases of 2011; it’s fresh, dynamic, brutal, crushing, angry and certainly crisp in its delivery. If you can, I’d also recommend buying it on vinyl (there was a special vinyl release limited to 666 copies, one of which I own) as the artwork is beautifully rendered, and captures well the album’s epic sound, reminiscent of the almost biblical scene the cover shows. So ultimately, this album not only sounds great, it also looks great.
• “Crushing Hammer of the Antichrist”
• “Firebreath of Blasphemy and Scorn”
• “Behold the Satan’s Sword”
• “Under the Will of the Lord”
• “The Abjection”
• Pounding, brutal and relentless
• Some highly intense riffs
• Great vocal delivery
• Crisp Production
• Luscious solos
• Lovely artwork
• Good understanding of dynamic shifts, with a nice, even balance of both Death Metal and Black Metal elements
• Second half is definitely weaker than the first half.
• Towards the end, there is the odd dissonant, slightly unpleasant riff
• It ends a little abruptly
• One may tire of its aesthetics or Lechowski’s samey pace of vocal delivery (in some parts.)
• If you power-listen to this album, it may cause a headache. (If you’re not brutal enough!)