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Martyrium - Antestor

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Artist: Antestor / Genre: Hard Rock & Metal

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      22.01.2008 22:37
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      Antestor's first album (1994).

      Here's an interesting band. If your mother bursts into your loud and dingy cellar and demands you turn that Satan-worshipping black metal noise down this instant because the vicar will be visiting shortly, you'll be able to point out that Antestor is in fact a Christian black metal band, and you were merely ensuring that the vicar would feel comfortable visiting this humble abode and having his horizons expanded, when he came down here and violated you (some satire for you there).

      The idea of an explicitly Christian spin-off from a fundamentally anti-Christian genre is an entertaining contradiction-in-terms, and as such it's a little hard to take Antestor seriously when replicating the harsh vocals and guitar style of bands like Mayhem, who were more comfortable burning local churches than attending mass there. Perhaps aware that the hard and fast approach wouldn't be conveying exactly the right message, much of this album consists of slower, more thoughtful doom metal reminiscent of Black Sabbath, and the heavier, faster sections are more in line with death metal.

      The vocals are predominantly roared in a death metal growl, modulated to a whispered style for the softer movements, but there are some clean vocal sections and a final instance of female singing where the Christian messages can finally be articulated and understood in full. Whether there's a more subliminal Christian agenda struggling to come through in the music I couldn't say, but just as I don't feel any more like killing a gay man after listening to Emperor, I don't feel like going up to them and informing them that their religion is sick and unnatural, and that a place awaits them in hell next to the disabled, babies that died before Christening, women who were wicked enough to allow themselves to be raped by men before they could be married, and men whose genitals had been crushed or amputated (more Bible satire).

      This is a mainly pleasant album - pleasant if you're used to black metal, at least - with most songs beginning with quiet bass, guitar or piano sections and maintaining a slow to medium tempo even when the other instruments come in, but some such as 'Materialistic Lie,' 'Searching' and the instrumental title track take on a more impassioned and aggressive role in preaching God's words, the riffs in the second song weirdly sounding just as evil as anything Burzum came up with, and the gurgled vocals not exactly convincing of divine origin. 'Spiritual Disease' and 'Inmost Fear' follow the slow, Sabbathesque style mentioned earlier, and the slightly longer and more complex 'Depressed,' 'Thoughts' and 'Mercy Lord' feature the band at their best, the drums being particularly creative when not merely following the double bass pedals style, though the over-reliance on organ melodies and thunder effects in the finale are overdoing it a little. Of these, 'Thoughts' is probably the best, not allowing the religious message to interfere with the music but likewise sounding comparatively accessible with its catchy drum rhythm, and not as alienating to non-black-metal-literate Christians as you might have thought.

      1. Spiritual Disease
      2. Materialistic Lie
      3. Depressed
      4. Searching
      5. Inmost Fear
      6. Under the Sun
      7. Thoughts
      8. Martyrium
      9. Mercy Lord

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