On the USBM Judas Iscariot's fifth full length release 'Heaven In Flames', founding (and now sole) member Akhenaten makes an effort to distace his project from the more right wing black metal bands out there by placing the disclaimer 'Judas Iscariot is pure, nihilistic black metal only! No Politics!" on the back of the album, but this sentiment is negated somewhat by the presence of a very politically powerful Netzschean quote splattered across the inner pages of the album sleeve.
Musically, 'Heaven In Flames' is strongly reminiscient of 'Transylvanian Hunger' era Darkthrone, with galloping and depressive guitars and drums and a raw and murky, lo-fi production. As with Transylvanian Hunger, there are some beautiful melodies are buried beneath the fuzz, and the album is one that improves on subsequent listens, as the listener gradually peels away the layers of sound to reveal a powerfully beautiful body of music. The droning, up-tempo sections are mixed with coarse, relentlessly-plodding and once-again repetitive mid-paced passages that recall early Primordial on occasion, whilst the music is accompanied by endearingly basic keyboard-sampled choiral vocals and intelligable rasped vocals courtesy of Akhenaten, and the various songs on the album are all memorable and possessive of their own identities. 'From Hateful Visions' is a particularly and (unexpectedly) different and impressive track, deviating from the formula adhered to by the rest of the songs and instead launching into a surprisingly upbeat and jovial (yet still melancholy-tinged) dissonant and mid-tempo punk number with something of a post-rock feel to it, giving the song an Agalloch-like feel.
I picked this album up very cheaply in a sale and wasnt expecting much, but its turned out to be a hugely atmospheric and emotionally-powerful
piece of minimalist, old-school black metal with well-crafted songs, murky yet-memorable-riffs and plenty of raw and understated energy. There are some down-sides, notably the fact that the track "Eternal Bliss.. Eternal Death" contains some particularly lazy chord changes that make the track sound more like a work in progress than a finished song, but overall 'Heaven in Flames' is an excellent album that will appeal to fans of Mutiilation, early Darkthrone and early Primordial aomgst others.
1. An Eternal Kingdom of Fire 07:56
2. Gaze Upon Heaven in Flames 06:20
3. Eternal Bliss...Eternal Death 06
4. Before a Circle of Darkness 05:26
5. From Hateful Visions 05:03
6. Spill the Blood of the Lamb 03:58
7. An Ancient Starry Sky 03:28
Total playing time 39:06
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Eternal Kingdom Of Five
2 Gaze Upon Heaven In Flames
3 Eternal Bliss...Eternal Death
4 Before A Circle Of Darkness
5 From Hateful Visions
6 Spill The Blood Of The Lamb
7 Ancient Starry Sky