Metal Blade Records
September 25th, 2012
Release length: 41:02
In keeping with the concept of early eighties first wave Black Metal, the recording does have a raw tone here and there, though was clearly done in a digital recording studio. The guitars are a little thin with a slight sharpness to them, sometimes also finding an echo effect at work. While it does sound good, it can leave the music a bit thin, especially when going through certain guitar solos such as during “Between Belial and Satan.” However, the louder bass does a decent job of filling the music and providing a deeper backing. With certain songs, such as “One Thousand Goats in Sodom,” itcan also lend a strong support to the guitar solo and keep things from sounding too empty. The vocals are a lower toned harsher approach that works with the darker atmosphere of the album and the early eighties Heavy Metal influenced sound. They are a bit further in the mix than anything else, though never too drowned out. The drumming sounds great, and finds crisp cymbals that help the bass guitar fill the music well, the snares have a distinctive tight snap that comes through on par with the guitar’s level, and the bass kicks carry a very slight click that can often be masked and give an impression of a thud moreso than anything, giving the nostalgic aspects of the album a little more bite, as well as the music itself.
Galloping Blasphemy is composed of nine songs that throw back to the early days of Metal, including the likes of Venom and Possessed, as well as some Mercyful Fate. The latter is a clear influence on a few, including the first song, “Leonard Rising – Night of the Whip.” The introduction is a little long, starting with a synth bass-drop effect that throws you into an eighties B-Movie soundtrack before a screaming woman and burdening sounds erupt, gradually introducing the instruments to an early Heavy Metal influenced song that immediately makes you crave a falsetto performance. Instead, you get some very atmospheric music with an early second wave Black Metal vocal approach in a rough, deeper manner. The gallopping rhythm of the song really sticks out due to the volume levels of the snare and the bass, and the hint of melody really makes it an infectious mid-tempo offering that you’ll instinctly bang your head along to. It also sound a lot richer than later tracks will, so while establishing what to expect on the rest of the recording, those very expectations will be heightened to a grander level than the production allows at times.
“Between Belial and Satan” thankfully doesn’t fall prey to this, being one of the faster offerings of the album that is hindered only by the first guitar solo being a bit too empty. The melody is dropped for aggression, which is easily felt the moment the pace picks up from the haunting, slower introduction which incorporates chapel bells ringing, and a suiting brief guitar solo. “Death Possessed” also comes at the listener with a greater intensity and speed. Coming off the catchy instrumental “Galloping Possessed,” the obvious Venom influence, as well as the band’s own energy come through well here, and the enthusiastic guitar solo sounds phenomenal and far from hollow like it did on “Between Belial and Satan.” The riffs are a little tighter too, and there are some passages that are simply commanding. It does eventually shift into some mid-tempo material that brings the galloping approach back in once more, but also shows a stronger second generation Black Metal concept at work through a nice transition, closing the song on a bit of a different note, but one that still sounds natural to the effort’s progression.
Of course, not all the songs that will grab your ear have to be on the faster side of things. “One Thousand Goats in Sodom” is one of the more enjoyable slower tracks. Once again there’s a galloping approach to it that mixes early Black Metal ideas with a Heavy Metal foundation. Many of the riffs can set up a bit of a middle eastern sound to them, but overall it does come off a bit haunting and even dark in an eighties analog sort of way. The guitar solos here are often very short, but still enjoyable and work to push the song further while sticking to a respectable just-under-four-minutes lifespan. There’s also “Satan’s Wrath,” which is a much slower track that really focuses on atmosphere with a dominant vocal performance against laid back drums and largely simpler held guitar chords in a Heavy Metal vein. The song has a bit of a Stoner Rock touch to it as well, which is captured nicely in the psychadelic first guitar solo, but overall seems to hang more towards something Megadeth might have put out back in the day, though not exactly fueled by anger or hostility.
“Hail Tritone, Hail Lucifer” is another enjoyable slower song that does show the group trying to work in some epic elements, and it works well for the most part. Unfortunately, this is one of the songs that isn’t too rich, largely losing some of the bite it would have had with a little more raw noise in the mix. Around the two minute mark, it heads into a chanting section that works great musically, but the vocals end up way too monotone and just don’t match what the group is going for, making it a little rough to sit through. On top of that, after the second set of chants, a brief audio sample of rain falling to the ground with a simple bass backing appears out of nowhere, coming off more as padding than anything beneficial to the song. It cuts away abruptly, then goes into a mix of chugging riffs with creepy leads, then finally back to normal by heading into a slower guitar solo that fits the music, and is just a joy to listen to in an atmospheric sense. The track pushes towards six minutes, but one spin through will make you understand just how Satan’s Wrath managed to make it last that long.
Galloping Blasphemy isn’t so much a bad album, as it is one in the wrong era. Satan’s Wrath clearly take all their influences from Metal’s most influential time period and wrap in some early nineties Black Metal concepts to create an enjoyable album, but one that really does suffer from today’s crisp production values despite the attempts to make certain aspects sound more on the raw side. The impact each track makes depends largely on how rich or tight the music itself is, and in some cases the material just doesn’t have that, coming off a bit hollow and not as attention grabbing as it rightfully should be. But, in the end, there’s still a slew of great songs that fans of early Metal will definitely get into, as well as come back for more many times over. Sure, the accompanying press release and some of the hype Metal Blade Records has been shoveling out to the masses may not live up to what Satan’s Wrath brings to the table, but there’s no denying Galloping Blasphemy is a trip to the past that fits nicely among the many well known and respected revival groups out there today.
01. Leonard Rising – Night of the Whip – 6:15
02. Between Belial and Satan – 4:46
03. One Thousand Goats in Sodom – 3:52
04. Hail Tritone, Hail Lucifer – 5:57
05. Galloping Blasphemy – 2:36
06. Death Possessed – 3:36
07. Death to Life – 3:26
08. Slaves of the Inverted Cross – 4:23
09. Satan’s Wrath – 6:11
|Overall Score: 8/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Metal Blade Records via Earsplit PR.