Azarath - Praise the Beast
Agonia Records
Black/Death
11 songs (41:31)
Release year: 2009
Official Myspace, Agonia Records
Reviewed by Charles
Album of the month
Perhaps this is a result of having listened to Cold Steel for an Iron Age just a few hours ago, followed by the new Impiety, but I am currently filled with love and hope for the extreme metal scene. If anything, Praise the Beast lifts the spirits even further. Azarath’s members pop up all over the exceptionally healthy Polish death metal environment, with its most high profile initiate being Behemoth’s Inferno, but also featuring various members of Damnation and Yattering as well. But whilst the band’s more famous cousins present a slickly oiled blackened death machine, this record is an entirely darker beast.

Essentially, this is blackened death as we have come to love it; a furious machine gun death template mounted roughly by goat-headed satanic black metal aesthetics. But what a riotous noise this is. Riffs take shape like thick, gnarled tree roots, witness the bizarre manifestations the rhythm guitar assumes in I Hate Your Kind. But instead of falling into line as timekeeping the drums take an axe to them; ferocious cymbal crashes and rolls often sounding like a hideous knife fight between the instruments. At other times they join up and turn on the listener in vicious harmony, as with the jolting tremolos in Queen of the Sabbath. Inferno sounds like he’s having the time of his life, and it’s the sheer ugly onslaught of the percussion that gives this its uniquely pummelling character.

Aside from Behemoth and friends, another useful comparison for Praise the Beast would be the central European act, Belphegor. The latter retain enough melodic sheen to give them immediacy and even catchiness, but Azarath ditch this, relying entirely on rhythmic bludgeoning and sheer malevolent aura. It’s testament to their ability that they pull it off, and their sound is deeper, more rageful, and more alive than that of the Austrians. The lead parts here are not used to impress with virtuosity, and they are not used to inject melody. Instead, they are jagged peels of forked lightning, flashing jaggedly over the heaving night sea of the rhythm section.

At a time when metal often doesn’t really shock any more in terms of sonic evilness, the bar having been pushed so far by illustrious predecessors, it’s great to hear a band that generates such raw, brutal power. If this album has downsides, it is that its 2006 predecessor, Diabolic Impious Evil may even be slightly heavier, and slightly more extreme. The fury of that record is mesmerising and is probably not surpassed here. That said, Praise the Beast has more of its own unique character, and represents a more original vision. Ultimately, extreme metal fans would be well advised to explore this band’s full discography. This record is likely to be vying with Defiance as one of the highpoints of metal in 2009.

Killing Songs :
I Hate Your Kind, Praise the Beast, Queen of the Sabbath
Charles quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Azarath that we have reviewed:
Azarath - Blasphemers' Maledictions reviewed by Charles and quoted 88 / 100
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