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Review: Baptism - Grim Arts of Melancholy
Grim Arts of Melancholy

Label: Northern Heritage Records
Year released: 2008
Duration: 56:24
Tracks: 8
Genre: Black Metal

Rating: 4/5

Review online: January 31, 2009
Reviewed by: Brett Buckle
Readers Rating
Grim Arts of Melancholy

Rated 3.67/5 (73.33%) (9 Votes)

Finland is the home of quite a few seriously hateful Black Metal bands. Maybe it's something in the water but the Finnish style is, in general, furious satanic black art, devoid of anything but hate and disgust for mankind. Riding the undercurrent of that wave of pestilence is Baptism, the one-man band of Kommander Lord Sargofagian, who has spread his wings wide in the Finnish scene, doing some session work for Horna and Satanic Warmaster among other lesser known acts. This should serve to illustrate exactly what Baptism has in store for you — cold, hate-filled, Satanic Black Metal.

Grim Arts of Melancholy is an 8 track slab of mostly mid-paced icy Black Metal that, while not setting any new standards, delivers a compelling blast of blackened fury. The production here is very good, with each instrument audible in the mix. It is not as face shredding as say, By the Blessing of Satan, but neither is it as stripped back as a Horna disc, falling somewhere in between. Each track is filled with a frosty atmosphere, from the blasty goodness of opener "A Dream of War and Illumination" to the dirge-like doom of "In This Painful Life", and overall the album is quite varied within the confines of its genre — this is no one dimensional blast-fest. Some excellent thrashy riffs can be heard on "Malicious Rites" which includes a cool old school guitar solo over some 80's riff-tastic thrashing. All the ingredients of the 2nd wave are here and the end result is a disc that pays homage to the masters while bringing its own touch of cold melody and scathing misanthropy. Vocally, Sarcofagian delivers a harsh screech that again, doesn't have the shear shredding force of Behexen, but is appropriately grim, conveying the necessary sense of distaste for mankind.

There are really no surprises on this CD, but if you go into it expecting any you've missed the point. This is grim Black Metal in the traditional meaning of 'grim', and it is done superbly. Grim Arts of Melancholy does everything right — it is immediately accessible and enjoyable, but has that subtlety required in the melody and song structure to keep you noticing new things at each listen, so it gets better every time you listen to it. It is not going to convert any new souls to the dark art of Black Metal, but if you're already a disciple then you could do much worse than Grim Arts of Melancholy — highly recommended.

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