Ritualistic Plague (Evangelical Death Apotheosis)
posted on 3/2009 By:
The trend in black metal, of late seems to be one of experimentation, with many of the most celebrated bands of the genre pushing the boundaries of the style into ever more atmospheric and esoteric territory. Poland’s Strandhogg is not one of those bands. On their debut CD Ritualistic Plague (Evangelical Death Apotheosis), Strandhogg opt for the sonic blitzkrieg variety of black metal, playing with a visceral, death metal like intensity in the manner of bands like 1349 and Marduk. Mid-ranged tremolo picking and relentless blast beats are the order of the day. Melody and atmosphere take a back seat to kicking ass.
While Strandhogg spends most of the album going for the throat, some of the album’s more interesting moments take place when the band takes a break from the blasting. The breakdown in “Coronation of the new God” features a jack-hammering riff nicely punctuated with harmonic squeals and “Profanated” Blasphemy features an all too brief Napalm Death styled groove that gets cut off just as an interesting melody begins to develop. “Pure Annihilation” is a standout track that manages to cram several different grooves and plenty of blasting into a compact ninety three second package. The band goes completely off script with the closing track, “Mortus Evangelium,” which is a slow, trudging, nine minute epic laden with synths and haunting, tortured vocals.
Strandhogg’s musical attack is a formidable one. When it comes to brutal, punishing black metal, the band can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best, but I have always found this particular style of black metal tiresome. If Strandhogg were to further develop the slower, heavier parts of their music, I feel they could be truly exceptional. As it stands though, Ritualistic Plague is still a solid album.
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