|Review: Anael - Necromantic Rituals|
Label: Barbarian Wrath
Year released: 2003
Genre: Black Metal
Review online: November 14, 2003
Reviewed by: Chaossphere
For those who have been highly disappointed with the decline of Swiss pioneers Celtic Frost and Samael from their original classic black/death metal sound into a mess of electronic tomfoolery, the debut album from this German band can be viewed as manna from Hell. Blending the slow, droning riffing and atmospheric darkness of both bands into a modernized second-wave framework, Anael updates the best elements of "Morbid Tales" and "Worship Him" into a creepy, thick morass of warped, midpaced riff-driven black metal art. All wrapped in a raw, easily digested production which unites all instruments into a whole - there are no buried drums or overly fuzzed out guitars here, just a perfect balance of each instrument while leaving enough murky obscurity to add to the ritualistic approach of the music.
Preceded by a short keyboard intro, the opening salvo of "Worship Of Death" then kicks you in the teeth with some particularly doom-laden drone- riffing interspersed with a more upbeat main verse. Most of these songs follow a similar pattern, but it never drags or becomes stale. Rather, each song finds a new, fresh way to drive the razor-sharp guitar attack through your head. The vocals, too, are obviously similar to Vorphaleck's wicked rasp... hell, even the cover art is remarkably similar to that of Samael's debut. I wouldn't call this a straightforward clone, but the influence is blatantly obvious. As previously mentioned, this can only be a good thing since that band abandoned black metal a long time ago. Anael, on the other hand, are very obviously dedicated to the black arts, and it shows.
There's not one weak moment on this album, in fact it juat keeps getting better as it progresses. Other highlights here include the droning 6-minutes of "Father Of The Doom", the blistering title track (the only song they provided lyrics for, and these lyrics, along with the song titles in general, reveal a very well reseached occult subject matter as the main theme). There's also another short keyboard instrumental here, which acts as something of a prelude to the last two songs - and the closing track "Last Salutation" is, to my ears anyway, the strongest track on the album. A rare occurence indeed, and a welcome one at that - it's always a good thing for the final song to leave the album on a high note, something a lot of bands seem to need reminding of.
Overall, this is a highly listenable, and very high quality tribute to the glorious black metal scene of the late 80's and early 90's - back when originality was king and atmosphere abounded. Despite the obvious influences, Anael succeeds in capturing both a unique approach to a well worn sound, and shows plenty of potential for future endeavours - which, one can only assume, will result in even greater heights of darkened musical genius.
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