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Azazel – Aegrum Satanas Tecum

Azazel
Aegrum Satanas Tecum
by Andrew Graham at 18 October 2021, 2:17 PM

I like to think I’m able to approach most music from a starting position of impartiality (at least as much as it’s possible for a human being to be impartial!) Some things test our ability to critically distance ourselves more than others. I must confess here and now that my first exposure to Finland’s notorious Black Metal outfit AZAZEL was through watching their now famous drunken 2017 Steelfest set – a difficult thing to unsee to be sure. However, I want to make explicitly clear here and now that I will be looking past this and will not keep going on about it. We can be mature about this. Let’s all just acknowledge it and move on! With that out of the way, let us begin.

AZAZEL have become something of a cult phenomenon in Finland, managing to remain in existence since 1992 – an impressive piece of staying power built on a relatively sparse discography, the majority of which released in the last ten years. This in itself is deserving of a certain amount of respect, even to those who cannot see past the drunken escapades of Steelf- no! No, I promised I wouldn’t!

Aegrum Satanas Tecum opens with “Invocation (Hail The Ancient Ones)”, a track that certainly attracts adjectives like primitive through its chanting and instrumental tones. It effectively evokes a genuine pagan feel, a nostalgic looking back to a folkish past long since banished and sectioned off by the modern world under labels like “ridiculous” or “pre-modern”. “Jesus Christ Impotent Rotting Saviour” follows, rather explodes, setting a very clear template for the kind of thing we can expect. This is raw, uncomplicated, unpretentious Black Metal. Listeners will also notice that there’s no forced attempt to emulate the kind of ‘recorded-through-potato’ sound that is unfortunately (I feel) all too common with modern Black Metal bands chasing after that fleeting kvlt sound (you can even clearly hear the bass guitar!)

“Welcome To Church Bizarre” takes a slower pace, manufacturing a genuine sense of menace in the process. By half-way the speed picks up again, producing some deeply satisfying riffs and drumming; almost leaning into Black N’ Roll in places. It would be easy enough to give sighs of exasperation at the various mournful groans and evil laughs that issue from the mouth of Lord Satanachia, but occasionally it pays to not be quite so excruciatingly self-aware. It’s a bit of fun, and it is certainly menacing when you get into the zone! “I Worship Him” is a classic Black Metal anthem of early 90’s vintage – really evokes classics like MAYHEM’S De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas and almost as gratifying. This track really highlights for me the creative choices made regarding the mix. Again, the authentic, kvlt recorded-through-potato sound is eschewed in favour of a more sophisticated, but no less raw and primitive, sound that still has the stamp of authenticity about it.

“Demons Attack The Nun’s Chapel (Aegrum Satanas Tecum)” bears some very tasty tremolo riffs that really work the whole ‘minor keys are frightening’ mechanic. If it works then why question it, right? “Incubus Rises Again” slows the tempo again, supporting the argument that black metal doesn’t necessarily have to zoom along at 3000bpm to be menacing. Indeed, it’s too easy for many mediocre acts to hide in plain sight through playing so quickly that you can’t really hear what’s going on. That these gents are willing to expose themselves by slowing down exposes a confidence in their sound, which is certainly justified!

“Succubus, My Infernal Vampire Spirit” features almost blues-infused riffs, an excellent display of Black n’ Roll for the ages. We end with “In Nomine Dei Nostri Satanas”, and all the stops are pulled out. Growls and shrieks open, partnered with a minimal yet threatening riff which evolves into an equally distressed and discordant tremolo section, again paired with balls-to-the-wall shrieks from Lord Satanachia. This is a real ‘take no prisoners’ sort of track, utterly relentless right up to its final moments.

First impressions are a difficult thing to overcome. I could well understand that many people might be put off giving AZAZEL a fair listen precisely because of a certain inebriated live performance that shall remain nameless (I didn’t mention it by name! That counts, right?) On this occasion, however, I would encourage readers to overlook this unfortunate performance (one quickly gets the impression that they simply don’t give a f**k, which is a mood to be admired to a degree… right?) If you are a Black Metal fan then this is definitely something you want to check out, and bugger the haters!

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Invocation (Hail The Ancient Ones)
2. Jesus Christ Impotent Rotting Saviour
3. Welcome To Church Bizarre
4. I Worship Him
5. Demons Attack The Nun’s Chapel (Aegrum Satanas Tecum)
6. Incubus Rises Again
7. Succubus, My Infernal Vampire Spirit
8. In Nomine Dei Nostri Satanas
Lineup:
Lord Satanachia – Vocals
Mavrofos – Guitar
Raakalainen – Guitar
Lucifuge Rofocale – Bass
Idimmu – Drums
Record Label: Primitive Reaction
     


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