God Is Dead
Surprisingly enough, even with it's provocative title, this is likely Legion of Doom's most accessible release; at first glance, almost uncomfortably so. In a rather drastic 180 from previous releases, and in some ways extending back towards the material of 'The Desecration', 'God Is Dead' isn't quite as austere and black as albums like 'Kingdom Of Endless Darkness'- it actually has pronounced rock elements of all things, very strange coming from a band who seemed to typify the 'black metal minus the rock' style I hold so near and dear. The first few seconds of 'Necromantion' sort of sent my heart plummeting on first listen, but listening further revealed one of the albums which incorporates such influences without cheapening the strength of the compositions. This album's riffing is something of a continuation of the slightly more melodic sound of 'For Those Of The Blood', but certainly with a great deal more modern trappings than any of the band's previous releases. A great deal more experimentation with rhythmic structures as opposed to pure tremolo riffing can be found alongside the more traditional and Norwegian melodic direction. There are some rather strange songwriting decisions to be found, whether it be 'Necromantion's Nokturnal Mortum style verses of 'Bridge Of Lunar Tears' bizarre pseudo-electronic opening, but apart from these quirks this is still decidedly Legion of Doom, albeit a form of the band which is more accessible and less utterly stark than on previous releases. Much of this seems to be found in a much more rock-influenced and grooving style of drumming rather than the barren blast/fill form of before, in addition to an overall slightly lower tempo than any of Legion of Doom's previous works, making for, again, a more accessible form of the band's signature style. The interludes of the previous album have returned as well, with two quite lengthy neoclassical tracks popping in at the halfway point and end of this release; unlike the previous album, though, there's enough black metal meat on this release to make it less troubling. More notable is the rather insistent use of keyboards on this album, frequently bringing to mind 'To The Gates Of Blasphemous Fire'-era Nokturnal Mortum and other Slavic symphonic black metal bands to mind, with similar synth tones used and a generally similar usage alongside the guitars when they're employed. Fortunately, Legion of Doom's unique style of riffing is most certainly intact, though it does drop down in complexity when the synths are at their most present. Unlike many bands which use keys in this manner, Legion of Doom are able to make the synthless sections equally interesting, allowing the guitars to flourish and let loose with torrents of Legion of Doom's custom style of heavy-influenced black metal riffing, even if it does have a little more rock and roll than usual. While I don't think this is Legion of Doom's best album, it comes so close to the rest of the pack that it hardly matters. I sometimes wonder what this would sound like without some of it's more overtly weird moments and rock influences; I certainly enjoy the album for what it is but a tiny part of me nags that this would have been better were it more in the style of the previous two albums. Regardless of what might have been, however, 'God Is Dead' is an excellent album from one of the more masterful bands in the modern black metal scene, letting it be known that despite the best efforts of many involved, black metal isn't dead yet.