Armagedda - _Only True Believers_
(Agonia Records, 2003)
by: Matthias Noll (8 out of 10)
Armagedda's debut _The Final War Approaching_ made a minor splash in the black metal scene, but I never really got what was so special about them. In my opinion the record was enjoyable but generally bland and uninspired, and Armagedda seemed to be just another Darkthrone inspired Johnny-come-lately with no identity or qualities to lift them above the mass of similar bands. Things have changed massively with _Only True Believers_, however. All of a sudden the band has found their own distinguishable style, combining massive doses of old-school with a sometimes driving and grooving approach not too far away from what Carpathian Forest did on _Black Shining Leather_ while staying perfectly clear of any black 'n' roll tags. _OTB_ features hateful, powerful vocals, dynamic drumming, a very strong but raw production, and cool riffs -- a couple of which are somewhat unusual in the true black metal context, downtuned and almost early '90s death metal style. Without ever coming across like a clone, this mixture sounds like the material Darkthrone should have written instead of _Ravishing Grimness_ and subsequent albums. Finnish bands like Clandestine Blaze or Warloghe succeed in their unholy crusade to refine and focus the ideals behind masterpieces like _Transylvanian Hunger_. They develop black metal in a retrograde direction by carving out the essence of this style as sharp and clear as possible. Swedish bands like Craft and Armagedda seem to be among the very few bands that can pull off a forward looking yet conservative, slightly modernized version of black metal without throwing the ideals and grimness overboard. A direction acts like the misguided Satyricon or burnt-out Darkthrone should have taken but either don't want to or can't.

(article published 26/12/2003)


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