A very good warning is never to watch the film Jacob’s Ladder on LSD, especially not on first viewing. That said you should also probably never listen to Hell Militia on LSD either, not that this scribe dabbles in such things any more but I am well aware that doing so will no doubt give you a very dirty bad trip. Hell Militia are a bit of a hallucinatory nightmare and as ever this, their Third Mass, is injected with very effective drug induced B-Movie samples and it is not a listening experience likely to leave you in a healthy state of mind. The band if you are not aware of the background are French and within their fetid ranks comprise of members past and present of such outfits as Vorkreist, Temple Of Baal, Arkhon Infaustus and Mütiilation to name just a few. Obviously this should leave you well aware that they are a pretty damn serious prospect and are not going to leave you with much in the way of a smile on your face.

After the first mood setting sample the grating, grinding guitars make presence felt on the title track. Drums power in and nasty rasps spill out the speakers as vocalist Meyhnach joins in the sermon. This is pretty nihilistic stuff and it is executed with a rabid ferocity with a primitive edge behind it yet a good grip as far as melody is concerned. Shimmering guitar lines break up the destructive ritual and the slow down is welcome although just as angry as the band at full power. A groove laden punkish bounce accompanies ‘Jonah’ and the singer whales on (sorry bad pun) sounding disgusted with the world. It has a pretty crusty feel to it but whereas most crust bands were warning about the end of the world this is pretty much welcoming its demise. Long elongated and shivering guitar lines are at the other end of the spectrum and quite grandiose as we move into ‘Sternfall’ and if you want an example of how a band can use a sample effectively you will find it here as this sends a shiver down your spine akin to having a ghost walk straight through you (yuck).

I have actually had this album for quite a while before the release date and I think that I have really appreciated it more this way as it has taken a lot of listens to get its claws in, when it did though songs like ‘Death Worship’ have left considerable scars. The slower passages are full of doom and gloom and take a very depressive turn on things here, yeah you could cite Shining Sweden on some of the parts especially the haunting piano and sample part to The Black Projector but there is going to be no question about the fact that this is black metal through and through as the track piles out talons stretched to cause maximum damage.

I have been trying to put my finger on why this album has grown on me so much and it is down to the huge sense of all important atmosphere it conveys. Let me put this straight, it is not nice atmosphere at all but the sort that has you choking and clutching your heart shortly before keeling over. This is powerful stuff and it would be great to see this lot play some of it live, I would imagine that the atmosphere would be particularly rank especially in a grimy venue like the Electrowerkz (hint, hint certain promoters). The end which is a bit of Parisian sounding wartime music for want of a better description is bizarre but oddly fitting as it reminds of a time now dead, a state we will all be in before long

(Pete Woods 8/10)