My first mission in regards to this album was figuring out who actually plays on it. Has the band reformed, as they had apparently disbanded a couple years ago, or is it a solo album by vocalist Kristof Bathory with guitars by Mick Kenney of Anaal Nathrakh who also produced the album? I’m finding a 2016 line-up of Kristof Bathory (Vocals), Bahemoth (Electronics/Keyboards), Topher Graves (Guitars), Jamison Boaz (Guitars), Angel Dies (Bass) and Levi Xul (Drums), but as I don’t have a hardcopy of the album I couldn’t tell you whether this line-up recorded or not. Delving a little further I see they’ve been around for 15 years now and have evolved their sound from EBM to black metal and now to industrial black metal by combining their previous two sounds. One thing is for certain though, the album is rather brutal, even if it does verge on the little too dance beat sounding for me at times.
Opening track “Rise of the Ancient East” has a great ethereal quality to it that promises orchestral grandiose arrangements as the choral vocals soar above the trumpets and strings. This drops into very artificial sounding drums but oh-so-heavy and full sounding guitars with harsh black metal vocals that bleed through for “Tribe of Chemosh”.
The hyper-fast triplets and guitars are quickly drowned out by the very electro dance groove on “Equilibrium”, which spills into “Stillborn Defect (The New Breed)” but on a much more mid-paced and groovier level.
Sadly sounding nothing like Pestilence “Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Witches)” is predominantly an instrumental with sampled lines from films. Now “Fire of the Phoenix” on the other hand, starts with a great horror vibe before blasting into a flurry of death riffs and growls and a chant of ‘D-O-A’ in the background.
“Bleeding Perfection” goes from melodic death metal with plenty of keyboard overtones to “Enter the Vortex” with its slightly slower but even more melodic arrangements, even if the vocals are delivered with far more fury.
The beautiful but ultra-short “Valhalla” has all the hallmarks of an epic score, with whispered vocals overlaid.
I can safely admit to never being a Nine Inch Nails fan, and if it wasn’t listed as such I would never have known that “Last” is a cover.
While it has its moments and there are a couple tracks I really enjoy, it’s definitely not something I’d be able to keep on loop for too long.
(6/10 Marco Gaminara)