Doubtless, quite a few black metal fans will have been severely annoyed by this 2005 release from Azaghal, as the Finnish band incorporate elements of classic metal into their traditional black metal style to mixed results. Fortunately, my position on the fence leans significantly towards the eighties style that Azaghal incorporates to such entertaining effect here, and I'm able to consider the experimental merging of 'Kumarra Petoa' to be a work of flawed genius and one of the most entertaining songs I've heard recently, while others would condemn it as a blasphemy (and not the type of blasphemy they're usually so fond of).
Even in the more traditional black metal songs, Narqath's guitars and vocals have a distinctly fun quality to them, even when he restricts himself to growls rather than the clean singing that's arguably a weak point of songs like the otherwise excellent title track and the dull finale 'Sieluton,' and the presence of choruses in 'Agios O Baphomet' and elsewhere also makes this strikingly different from standard black metal. The drums are thankfully no longer programmed, and are perfect at maintaining the energy throughout, and special credit has to be paid to Narqath's great guitar solos, occasionally inspired and at other times basic but enjoyable, that permeate most of the songs, and reach their peak at the conclusion of 'Raatosielu' when a melodic lead guitar section appears out of nowhere and plays out over some pleasant acoustic backing as the closed-minded Mayhem fans tear off their ears.
The best songs here are clearly down to a matter of personal taste, but all parties would probably concede that 'Codex Antitheus' itself is a great black metal offering, satisfyingly heavy and slightly experimental without going overboard like the other songs. My personal favourite has to be the aforementioned blackened heavy metal of 'Kumarra Petoa,' which shows signs of something being awry as early as its opening riff before Narqath lets rip with a high wail that later evolves into a screeching performance reminiscent of King Diamond. It's fantastically enjoyable for fans of classic metal, the guitars and some of the vocals being reminiscent of a darker Megadeth, and its divisive potential makes me like it even more. If I was a hardcore black-metalhead I'd clearly despise this, but with my ever-so-slightly more accepting world view, I consider it a nice treat.
1. Agios O Baphomet
3. Codex Antitheus
4. Kumarra Petoa
5. 30 Hopearahaa
8. Kuningas Saatana