Review: Wresting from the foundations of traditional black metal a newer hybrid, Avenger work in a style descended from the difficult era of late 1980s proto-death/black metal, infusing larger circular song structures with the melodic extensions and chord voicings expected of modern black metal, but essentially focusing on anthemic work that translates the banginess of 1980s material into a more fluid approach, thanks especially to the flamboyant attack which similar to Gorgoroth, bounces off any rhythm through a transition before diving into it and bringing it toward the same or conflicting emphasis. Rough two finger riffing slashes out the framework filled in by voice and bass riding simple but precise and effectively minimal drumming.
Roaring vocals of the acid-throated variety puke forth dissatisfaction at high volume, riding over the bounce of a rhythm section which knows how to sparsely expand to cover the dynamics of each song and the drive of vocals and guitars. Songs use free structure, breaking between riff progressions for thematic shifts culminating in some form of conclusion that resolves the final drive, allowing the quick shifting patterning of death metal riffs and black metal speed work to be integrated throughout as a means of inducting lesser themes and mirrored refractions of major themes (via rhythm and relative motion of tone more than tonal placement in the sense of conventional harmony) that can later be exposed. As black metal art it is not "pure" but it is passionate, and as technical assessment what can be rendered is that all that is needed is done well.
1. Intro - Behind the Gates (1:36)
2. The Captives of the Nightside (4:33)
3. Call of Battle (4:58)
4. In Chains (5:13)
5. Evil, Hate, War (3:46)
6. Darkness (6:13)
7. Banished from Paradise (0:50)
8. Pope Crucified (3:47)
9. Opus 666 (4:15)
Black Rain - Bez Ohne (Without Fire)
10. Intro - Inferno (4:03)
11. Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust (3:52)
12. Without Fire (5:05)
13. Before Death (3:42)
14. The Last Man (3:29)
15. Desolate Land (5:07)
16. Outtake (4:22)
17. Fragments (5:53)
Thematically moving into the more contemplative territory that accompanies black metal, Avenger launch through jarring transitions into the more death metal/heavy metal work on this album, finding their dark concepts and resonant strobing of atmospheric mood manipulating in sweeping black metal style often up against bouncy hard rock riffs or death metal transitions. It is all so swiftly done that to the listener this is barely noticeable, yet it is worth saying that for the future of this band it seems untenable to continue an aesthetic of oppositional elements without helplessly being dragged down into the lower and simpler form of heavy metal.
Ability to shift pace dramatically between songs and craft distinctive central riffs from which to build theme empowers these facile riffwriters to make powerful songs that as their own basis move forward and reach some basis of equilibrium and then regeneration, but often what holds this back is the basic happiness and lack of conceptual advancement past speed metal of some segments, keeping it grounded in a familiarity and happiness insensible to its worldview. Raw talent is here in abundance however and the future hungrily awaits more from this band. A more epic black metal oriented side project, Black Rain, graces the last tracks (the final track is "broken").