Review: Baalberith (UK) – Apparition of Skulls

Posted: September 1, 2014 in Reviews
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A band I reviewed a while back on a split CD with Forneus and Hex Morbidity, Baalberith are long running stalwarts of the underground black metal scene in the UK. This is their fourth full length, with many splits, demos and EPs out there over the years. A band I was never familiar with until the guys at Hex Morbidity asked me to review their split, I thought they were pretty decent. I jumped at the chance to get myself a full length copy from Sixsixsix Music of their new record, ‘Apparition of Skulls’. As I’ve said before, splits are generally not my thing as I prefer to get to know a band over a full release.

‘Apparition of Skulls’ opens with the thundering ‘Quest for Satan’. A full throttle, writhing and snarling black metal beast, the devastating battery of double bass underneath is particularly heavy. Replete with savage, vocal incantations of praise for the Horned One, ‘Quest for Satan’ is a remarkably strong opener, and sets the tone for what is to come. Baalberith play black metal in the way that a brutal combination of Immortal and latter period Mayhem would. There’s dashes of atonal melodies in there too, bringing to mind the more headfucking moments of someone like Blut Aus Nord. While previously thinking this was the weakest track from them on the split, it makes perfect sense as an album opener.

‘Battle for the Blazing North’ is a more galloping beast, after a soaring opening section, and a thrusting, urgent blast. Baalberith show more variety in the first two tracks than a lot of black metal bands manage in a career. The soul of traditional heavy metal lives somewhere inside this blackened malevolence, and every so often it breaks through. Something to also highlight is the harsh, gurgling vocals. A welcome change from the more traditional banshee howls, vocalist Razakel gurgles and rasps his way through these 35 minutes, sounding for all the world he’s gargling fetid blood. It’s TOTALLY metal.

The quality fails to disappoint at any moment, and the overall standard is fantastic. From the mournful, gloomier intro to the title track, which channels elements of death/doom titans Winter into a lurching, crawling beast, to the rapid fire ‘Bloodshed’, Baalberith are a hidden gem. ‘Infinite Malevolence’ brings the groove and more of those spiralling atonal melodies that are just killer.’Abortion of Religious Futility’ is a mournful wave of black metal that crashes upon the shores of your mind, and ‘Killing on Impulse’ finishes the record up strongly, all flailing riffs and savage growls.

‘Apparition of Skulls’ may not be the best black metal album you’ll hear all year, but it is definitely different enough, and good enough, to be considered for its merits. I was perhaps a bit critical of their tracks on the ‘In Satan’s Honour’ split, as I’ve definitely found the songs to be growers. Baalberith are a band that deserve to be supported, and ‘Apparition of Skulls’ should be any black metallers must buy lists. NOW CUT YOUR FLESH AND WORSHIP SATAN!!

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