FLAGELLATED SERAPH - Beyond Salvation (HELLTHRASHER - CD 2012)
I guess that Flagellated Seraph was the most mysterious and unpredictable release of all the stuff from Hellthrasher Productions, which I had a pleasure to listen to so far. And I’m not only saying that because the band members are remaining anonymous or whatsoever, but also because it’s the first release from Flagellated Seraph, so you could basically expect everything. I knew one thing only for sure; while the roster of Hellthrasher is dominated by the old school death metal bands, then this release will be one of the few black metal ones in this label (along with Demonic Slaughter and Shemhamforash, as far as I remember). Which is very cool of corpse; as a fan of both genres I have absolutely nothing against that; as long as the music will shred obviously. And now, after listening to the CD, I know it’s damn good music and I can tell you also one thing… “Beyond Salvation” while deeply rooted in black metal, is not so typical and obvious as you might think.
Already the opening part of “Remeniscence of the Serpent” gave me a headache, as the first riff from it is completely different to what you usually hear on the black metal releases. I mean this song starts with basically a purely melodic doom metal riff, one which would probably fit more to some Finnish melodic bands, or to early Katatonia, rather than to an uncompromising black metal horde. And that’s not the only moment, when Flagellated Seraph surprises me with such an unusual piece (listen to the melodic guitar leads in “Redeemer of Nothingness” for instance). Anyway, luckily – especially for all those, who rather like their black metal more pure and classic – most of the album has been played in more traditional ways and style wise it’s pretty much as hateful, depressing and misanthropic as you could only wish. But I like the fact that the music on “Beyond Salvation” is not really so easy to compare to some other bands. Even if there will be some riffs or particular fragments, which may remind you band X, then as the whole the album will be much more challenging and unpredictable, as well as damn original. I must admit that at the beginning, on the first listen, I was kind of sceptic about Flagellated Seraph, but somehow when giving the album more and more spins, the music started really to get to me and its dark and lunatic atmosphere devouring me more and more. The band builds up the tension and atmosphere really well, it doesn’t matter whether they’re using slower or faster paces (and at times the tempo can be really furiously fast), the music always intrigues and possesses. And the culmination of it is with the last song, “Casus Belli”, which will haunt you with eerie atmosphere made by church organs and slow, doomy riffing, what creates a truly sinister mood, comparable even to some of the ancient Greek black metal bands.
So, in the end “Beyond Salvation” delivers a very enjoyable, enigmatic and intriguing piece of black metal. I’ve listened to this album already about 20 times and I still feel like I was discovering it, even if the music isn’t really so complicated and complex, but it’s the atmosphere and the originality of those sounds the main advantage. Then “Beyond Salvation” is dressed in a blood sprayed digipack, with simple, but effective artwork / layout, it was mastered by Devo form Marduk… Ha, do you need anything more to be convinced that Flagellated Seraph is a worthy band and if you’re into black metal you should definitely check it out?
Standout tracks: “I am the Flame”, “Beyond Salvation”, “Casus Belli”
Final rate: 80/100