Thursday, January 3, 2013


Azaghal - Perkeleen Luoma
Aftermath Music, 2004
Genre: Black Metal

1. Helvettiin
2. Rutonkantaja
3. Käärmeen Laulu
4. Verenkirous
5. Kuoleman Kylmä Ikuisuus
6. Perkeleen Kitaan
7. Riivaaja
8. Perkeleen Luoma
9. Orja
10. Filosofi

When Azaghal put out the mini-CD “Kyy” we saw some line-up changes. They had replaced their previous drummer VKhaoz with Unhuman Warmachine. Well “Perkeleen Luoma” solidifies this change because there is a song dedicated to VKhaoz about being a wimp or something to that nature. So apparently they did not part on very good terms. Needless to say “Perkeleen Luoma” ushers in a new age for Azaghal, one of increased intensity.

From the outset of the first full song “Kutonkantaja” everyone can see that Azaghal have upped the ante in the speed department this time around. The song is well done, but there is a riff that seems to slow it down and borrow from the early days of Black Metal and feels somewhat out of place on this particular track. However, this is the only part on the album that ever felt out of place. There are a couple tracks re-recorded from the “Kyy” album and it seems the drums were re-arranged a bit to give the songs a much heavier feel, but overall it could be just that the drum production is better. On “Kyy” during the blast sequences the snare drum seems to get a little lost here and there, which I did not pick up on until I compared the two albums. However, I don’t want to mislead you, this is not an album that just blasts through at lightning speed as people tend to generalize Black Metal. In fact there slow, epic and passionate sounding songs on this album like “Kuoleman Kylmä Ikuisuus,” which is a beautiful slower paced song to show that Azaghal can write well and not be forced to blast through the album.

How does this rate up against the previous Azaghal releases. Well it rates up pretty well, but for those of you who enjoy the acoustic passages found on “Of Beasts and Vultures” you will be greatly disappointed not to find them here. Also the riffing didn't seem to be as intoxicating and catchy as on “Of Beasts and Vultures.” The song “Kyy” from the mini-CD itself is probably one of the catchiest sounding songs they've ever written. I didn't get the same feeling of catchiness with “Perkeleen Luoma.” Only once during the song “Kutonkantaja” did I feel a riff that matched up against it and they only played that once in the whole song. I think the goal of this album was to up the intensity, but in doing so they've left something behind that was theirs. Then again this band has constantly reworked their sound, so it’s nice to see that they haven’t gotten stagnant. “Perkeleen Luoma” has the same passion and feeling as previous Azaghal albums, but it just feels like they gave up something special when they wanted to sound more intense. Not that I wanted them to blatantly re-release “Of Beasts and Vultures,” but they did have a different vibe going altogether on that album.

Anyway, this is a must have for Azaghal fans without a doubt in that respect. For those looking for new high quality Black Metal this is definitely an album to check out, but I would honestly recommend “Of Beasts and Vultures” over this one. That’s just me though, a lot of people were probably angry at the more mellow change from “Helvetin Yhdeksän Puriä,” but as I said in that review the drumming got old after a while. The guitar work, on the other hand, was great. “Perkeleen Luoma” is probably more of a return to that album's sound only this time they've blended it with some of the aspects on “Of Beasts and Vultures.”

Azaghal - Kristinusko Liekeissä
Chanteloup Creations, 1998
Genre: Black Metal

1. Saatanan Valtakunta
2. Kuilujen Herrat
3. Demonlatria
4. Kuolema Kristukselle
5. Murskaamme Kasvot Juntalaisten Kuninkaan
6. Kristinusko Liekeissä
7. Countess Bathory (Venom Cover)

This is Azaghal's second release unleashed upon the world and what an intense realm of Black Metal it is! There are a few problems with it, but overall it’s a very strong release. This is another release on the legendary Chanteloup Creations, but my copy is sort of a strange history. Hugin from the Austrian Uruk-Hai sold me his copy of this and I think this was a personal edition just for him. This demo is limited to 200 copies and in the “my edition” section it read “Hugin”. Kind of an interesting thing, but I think it’s pretty cool to have this small piece of history, especially between people involved in the early scene.

The music here starts off with the blistering “Saatanan Valtakunta” and Azaghal have certainly upped the ante on their performance a little for this release. This is some vicious and hateful Black Metal for sure. I think this is fairly summed up with their own words in the booklet “Death to humanity, this is the Satanic War!” Amidst all this viciousness I am often surprised at some of the things Azaghal manages to work into their compositions. Listen to how melodic and beautiful the opening of “Demonolatria” or listen to how catchy “Kuilujen Herrat” is, even though I really hated the screechy vocals. This is extremely different to hear on such a vicious and rather intense recording. I think these elements are really what sets Azaghal back from their counterparts in the genre and why I think they stand out in a different way. Azaghal close their demo off with a cover of Venom’s “Countess Bathory” and they do a pretty good job of this. I sort of wish they had changed it up a bit and made it faster with blast beats, just to hear what it would sound like. I don’t think I would change that initial catchy riff, but if they sped up the verse riff it could work. Oh well, they went with the traditional cover and just redid the song with harsher vocals.

The overall production is a lot better than the previous demo. The vocals are little too loud in the mix, making the other instruments feel a little far away at times. I guess it doesn't matter that much, because we can certainly get a decent idea of the atmosphere and feel Azaghal is attempting to create. It certainly is just a matter of time before Azaghal get noticed by a larger label to release their material on and they have certainly won me over on this release.

This is an excellent follow-up demo and I think Azaghal present very strong material on this release. I really look forward to what they have in store for us next because they’re really creating some very interesting stuff.

Azaghal - Noituuden Torni
Stallhammar Productions, 1998
Genre: Symphonic Black Metal

1. Tuonelan Porteilla
2. Saatanan Valtakunta
3. ...Ja Pohjoistuulet Kuljettivat Nimmiäme
4. Jumalanpilkkaa Sinun Nimeesi
5. Viimeinen Taistelu
6. Kun Aurinko Kuoli...

Delving back into this bands past I've managed to acquire a copy of their very first demo.  I don't usually expect a bands origin to sound very good, but I am actually quite impressed with "Noituuden Torni".  It's actually quite a good demo even if it's a bit on the harsh side.  Naturally with a first demo this is a copied cover, but is folded into a bit of a booklet.    It's very basic and only single sided.  It features a picture of the band on the fold-out section, which is pretty cool.  Finnish fans may be disappointed in there being no lyrics.

Based on what I had heard with Azaghal's later albums, I wasn't expecting such a symphonic sounding demo.  This is basically Symphonic Black Metal and their array of influences, I feel, is fairly obvious and surprising for it's time.  Azaghal were clearly starting off trying to play a rather majestic style of Black Metal before they transitioned into playing their much more vicious incarnation as the years went on.  Listening to "...Ja Pohjoistuulet Kuljettivat Nimmiame" is clear representation of this and it seems a major influence for them was Dimmu Borgir.  I even think the early Cradle of Filth albums bore some influence in what Azaghal was doing at this time.  Varjoherra even tries to use some of those extremely high pitched screams in parts of songs.  To be honest he wasn't that great with it and they sort of stood out as not fitting as much.  Some aspects of Azaghal's intense material shows up here as well with tracks like "Jumalanpilkkaa Sinun Nimeesi" and I think this is the style of Black Metal they wound up developing further in their future.

For a first demo I actually found the production to be pretty good.  It appears to be well mixed too.  The recording is certainly harsh compared to a studio effort, but whatever recording devices they had access to were actually pretty good.  Sure some of the drums feel too quiet in the mix, but we expect that from a demo.  I am just surprised the keyboards don't drown out the music entirely, like I've heard with some early Symphonic material.  The vocals might be in the background a little too much, but it is not too bad overall.  I would rather this than having the vocals overwhelm the mix.

In the end we have a band that is sort of doing two separate styles a little.  About half the demo is clearly the majestic Symphonic Black Metal that is somewhat somber, but the other half is a much more intense brand.  Azaghal have always included a degree of melodic elements in their guitar work and that certainly shows up here, but we will have to wait for future releases to hear what Azaghal was truly good at doing.

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