Friday, 13 January 2012

Blaze of Perdition - The Hierophant

Blaze of Perdition - The Hierophant (PAGAN Records - LP 2011) 
I’m sure that it was one of the most anticipated black metal albums on the Polish grounds this year. All in all, Blaze of Perdition is one of the most respected bands in this religious country (although I have a feeling that this underground popularity in Poland doesn’t go in hand with the popularity abroad, or am I mistaken?). Anyway, myself I also have been very curious of what will “The Hierophant” deliver, how will it sound and will it outdo the brilliant debut, “Towards the Blaze of Perdition”? There were many questions to be answered. But really, the expectations were high, as “Towards the Blaze of Perdition” was a superb album. Of course there were some malcontents, who accused the band for using the present tendency for religious black metal and for taking their Swedish influences too much, but personally I wouldn’t give a damn shit for such comments and also I don’t think they’re real, especially that the music, even if was close to some Swedish bands, definitely had also something unique. The debut was perfect in my opinion, not only the layout, with band photos, etc was great, but also musically “Towards the Blaze of Perdition” presented a mature, well arranged and crafted black metal, with some of the best vocals I’ve heard. Of course there will always be something what can be improved, but that’s even bigger burden for Blaze of Perdition to deal with. If they’re going to better some things on “The Hierophant”, then it will be an album, which will burn their name on our skin for a long time. The promotion of the second LP started with “The Burning Will of Expansion” EP, but I didn’t want any appetisers, I wanted to go straight into the main course ASAP. And so I did.
Again the first thing that I’ve spotted was a superb layout for the LP. Not only the graphics on the album are great, but the band’s photos left me speechless. They’re great, very detailed and of course they do fit the whole tarot concept perfectly (immediately I reminded myself that Lux Occulta did something similar over a decade ago). All in all, when I look at that layout I think it’s another proof that no way fuckin mp3 will ever be better than a real album. If the layout, lyrics, etc are an inseparable part of the music and together they create the atmosphere, then how can I satisfy my musical hunger with just plain music files? Can you imagine listening to King Diamond, without reading the lyrics and understanding the horror story they perform? And in case of bands like Blaze of Perdition the layout and lyrics are very important. It’s not Cannibal Corpse, where no one cares about the lyrics (although even there the front cover is very important part of band’s style). With “The Hierophant” I didn’t have time to deep myself into the lyrics yet, but I bet they’re equally blasphemous and odious as they were on the debut, with lots of insults towards the christian faith and their morals. Anyway, at the moment I try to consume just the music of “The Hierophant”.
And I must say that Blaze of Perdition has recorded yet another great album. I think it’s slightly different than the debut. Of course it’s still well played, much faster, uncompromising, aggressive, but also sort of melodic in many parts black metal LP. Maybe the similarities to Watain are slightly more obvious here and there, but also to bands like Ondskapt and Ofermod. But if there are some resemblances to “Lawless Darkness” it doesn’t mean Blaze of Perdition copies the Swedish black metal stars. It’s more like a similar dark and infernal atmosphere and the fact that both bands play their black metal in fast and merciless way, with the use of some melodic parts, but Blaze of Perdition has their own character, definitely.
But after the first listening of “The Hierophant” I sort of felt unsatisfied with the new LP. I don’t know why, but that’s probably due to all those high expectations for it and the fact that “Towards the Blaze of Perdition” raised the bar so high. My first thought on “The Hierophant” was that it doesn’t include such amazing songs as those two Polish written tracks “Królestwo Twoje” and “Misterium Kliffoth” from the debut. The songs on “The Hierophant” aren’t that catchy, if you know what I mean, there are also no Polish lyrics anywhere, so… I did feel slightly disappointed. But after the few listens, I’ve noticed that the compositions and their structures have definitely improved. They went in slightly different direction, but definitely the riffing is tighter, with more interesting arrangements, so the music feels much more intense, faster and merciless, but at the same time occasionally it also brings surprisingly melodic parts, especially the guitar leads, which was quite a surprising element for me. Anyway, the whole music is very dynamic. Again the vocals are superb and so is also the production. I’m not going to write where have the band worked on “The Hierophant”, it’s well known place, but the effect is very good.
And so I get less and less critical towards new Blaze of Perdition album with every next listening. I like the album more and more. I’m not able to say whether this is better LP than “Towards the Blaze of Perdition” or not, it probably depends on my mood on the day I listen to it, so it would be safer to say that both albums are equally good. All in all “The Hierophant” is a great event for the black metal scene, not just the Polish one, but worldwide also. So get this LP immediately, don’t just blindly follow the Swedish bands, as there’s much more than that in the black metal underground. 
Standout tracks: “The Hierophant”, „I am Thy Plague”,” Let there Be Darkness”
Final rate: 90/100

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