RebaelliunRebaelliun hail from a time when the Brazilian scene boasted a plethora of insanely fast, brutal bands thanks to Krisiun. Amidst the likes of Abhorrence, Mental Horror, Nephasth and those aforementioned legends, Rebaelliun stood out as the best of the bunch for this death metalhead. Their ‘At War’ demo and debut ‘Burn the Promised Land’ were two monoliths on the brutal death landscape – boasting a ton of insanity and hooks – only to be overshadowed by what turned out to be the band’s final statement in a long, long time: 2001’s masterful ‘Annihilation’. Naturally I wanted to review ‘The Hell’s Decrees’ although I’d be lying if I said that the PR’s comparison with the likes of Behemoth and Dead Congregation didn’t leave me wondering what to expect.

‘Affronting the Gods’ bursts straight in with the type of apex predator riff so emblematic of this musclebound horde before carnage is unleashed. Interestingly, that mention of Behemoth holds true from the start as the opener’s structure builds, pauses and hammers, with even the vocals having an air of ritualism about them. Obviously it wouldn’t be Rebaelliun without a mental solo and here we do have that just with a bit more consideration than in the past. And, as ever, when they put their foot down the devastation is complete. On ‘Legion’ the fast parts are even faster than before but there’s more nuance in the riffs and drum patterns, and generally the song structures vary to attain a wider range of atmospheres more persistently than in the past. That said, instances such as ‘The Path of the Wolf’ leave little doubt as to the band’s core emotion of fury. A firestorm of musical proportions, this one contrasts cryptic guitar interplay with a brick wall of riffs to great effect. By this stage you may well begin to feel a flow of brainy mush seeping from your ears.

A vague form of respite from the initial onslaught is offered by the perplexingly brief track ‘Fire and Brimstone’, which slowly and methodically spreads its diabolism. And it’s fair to say that as the disc reaches its latter stages there certainly is more of an exploration of menacing tempos. The self titled ‘Rebaelliun’ takes on more of a spiritually invasive slant with its chugging riffs, recalling Hoffmann-era Deicide as much as it does anything I can recall these guys doing in the past. It’s really quite surprising that a track representing this ferocious entity would be so slow, eschewing speed in order to deliberately spell out its message. But it works, as too does ‘Crush the Cross’, whose manic speed is bookended by some equally methodic torment. Along more traditional Rebaelliun lines is closer ‘Anarchy (The Hell’s Decrees Manifesto)’, which employs savaging riffs and almost incessant double bass/blast work to annihilate the listener. The type of speed on this one, not to mention the frenzied widdling solo work, takes you back to how this band got you hooked in the first place.

Given the fifteen year gap between this and their first two albums, it’s not at all surprising that the band’s sound has changed a bit. Having listened to ‘The Hell’s Decrees’ numerous times now, I can firmly say that their early approach of establishing repetitive riffs above percussive mayhem, and almost always valuing obstinate speed above all else, was certainly my preference. The ebb and flow of ‘The Hell’s Decrees’ seems to change in fits and spurts, and occasionally those lingering tempos have a lesser impact. For me, the band’s strength is to be found in their fast, aggressive playing and perhaps, ultimately, my hopes for this were too rigid to start with. Still, it’s great to have Rebaelliun back with us and credit to them for going the route they see fit.

(7.5/10 Jamie)