ARMAGEDDA - Only True Believers (AGONIA Records - LP 2003)
It is interesting to notice that the Swedish black metal scene in the 90’s was way different musically and often also lyrically to Norway (more straight forward Satanism compared to what some Norwegian bands did, like the nature worship, Vikings, etc). Musically these Swedish bands like Dissection, Dark Funeral or Setherial were often more melodic, often faster and just different to the Norwegian sound and style. So it is interesting to see that in the new millennium, at the time when Norwegian black metal wasn’t in the best condition, some Swedish bands appeared to take the reign over the Scandinavian scene and showed the Norwegians what this music is really about. And often they’ve been doing so with the music, which sounded more in the vein of the Norwegian cult releases rather than the Swedish ones. And so we had bands like Ofermod, Ondskapt, Watain, Craft, Svartsyn, but here in this review I wanna write something about Armagedda. First time I’ve heard this band was back in 2001 or 2002, when I got their debut CD “The Final War Approaching” for review. Well, it was for sure a good release and I must say that it was quite rare at that time to hear so raw, primitive, cold black metal done in such a good way (rare, but not impossible… there were few bands, which were still playing this style successfully). A strong influence of Darkthrone’s “Transilvanian Hunger”, Dodheimsgard’s “Kronet Til Konge” and Gorgoroth’s “Pentagram” was obvious, but I didn’t mind, as the album was pretty good. It may have suffered for quite bad production, it still could have surely been better, but not bad at all. But when “Only True Believers” came out – through Agonia Records on CD – I was happy to admit that Armagedda has evolved, but also stayed faithful to their real black metal roots.
And I say evolved, but that doesn’t mean that “Only True Believers” turned into some weird hybrids. It is actually the opposite; this LP is harsh, traditional black metal to the bone, but by “evolved” I meant that everything on “Only True Believers” has been done better and improved, when comparing it to “Final War Approaching”. First of all the production is just excellent here. The music sounds more powerful, more aggressively, but still maintains this dark and ghoulish feeling of black metal, which Armagedda plays. Everything sounds excellent, in my opinion, and this is just a classic production with well captured essence of black metal – which is hateful, cold, misanthropic and evil music, filled with passion and inhuman feelings. The riffing on “Only True Believers” is truly excellent, very inspired by Darkthone, to be honest, especially in such anthems as “For I Am His Slave” or “Only True Believers”. Some of these songs are just fast and intense sonic attacks, while some other are mid paced, with that killer rhythm, which just force to bang the head. I also really like the slower, more sort of melancholic or depressive song “Endless Fields of Sorrow”. This song, with its more melodic riffage for sure stands above the rest of the material on this album.
The whole album is closed with sort of ambiental track, which is not mentioned on the tracklist and which is called “Ghostwood”… and that’s it. Well, some versions also include Satyricon’s cover “Night of the Triumphator”, but I think it was added only to some reissues of “Only True Believers”, while I have this album on the LP version, released by From Beyond. All in all, whether you wanna get one of the CD versions or LP versions (as there were I think in total three vinyl versions released, including a picture LP), you certainly must get this album, especially if you’re into the classic cold and harsh black metal. I can assure you that “Only True Believers” is just an awesome LP.
Standout tracks: “Refuse the Blood of Jesus”, “Only True Believers”, “Poetry from a Poisoned Mind”, “Endless Fields of Sorrow”
Final rate: 80/100