Thursday, October 29, 2009

Desaster - Hellfire's Dominion (1998)

Desaster have always stood out to me as one of the better bands who can take the vitriol of black metal, mire it in brooding, old school Germanic thrash, and create epic, charging rhythms that might often feel familiar, but nonetheless immersive and powerful. Hellfire's Dominion was their 2nd full-length, and a clear improvement from A Touch of Medieval Darkness, but it maintains that albums folksy medieval aesthetic.

A glorious, brief instrumental (which sounds like Summoning) marches forth "In the Ban of Satan's Sorcery", with fast paced melodic chords over Okkulto's sloppy but memorable black slather. The guy sounded like he has rocks in his mouth half the time, and often emitted broken, unfinished snarls, yet I would prefer them no other way. "Expect No Release" begins with a slow sequence of chords over a Slayer-like riff, before the drums pick up into another epic rhythm. "Teutonic Steel" weaves a commanding folk rhythm into a forest of spikes and steel, and "Metallized Blood" features some guest vocals from cult thrashers Lemmy of Violent Force, Wannes of Pentacle, and Thorsten from Living Death.

Power chords come crashing down
Screams of frantic aggression
Only the true maniac souls
Can feel the Metal possession

The album only gets better from here. "Thou Shalt Be King" is a bruiser that creates some dark atmosphere through its rapid fire riffing, and the title track is truly a byproduct of the Netherworld, spewing harsh fires at every victim, eternal punishment for the damned. "Past...Present...Forever" is dowsed amazing riffs that are both proud and sorrowful, and "Castleland" is just glorious, an essential for fans of pagan or dark ages folk black. The album closes with the sad electrified folk melodies of "Across the Bloodfields".

Desaster have wisely recorded most of their catalog in a grim, timeless fashion, with raw but beautiful guitar work, scabrous and salivating vocals, and a dark environment. This is the perfect thrash album to listen to while wandering the rocky hills of olde, reminiscing the bloody signs of battle. It's quite good, and stands alongside Tyrants of the Netherworld as some of their strongest work.

Highlights: Teutonic Steel, Thou Shalt Be King, Past...Present...Forever, Castleland

Verdict: Win [8.5/10] (words of holy can't break my spell)

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