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June 21, 2024

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Knights From Hell (Mercenary Musik)

By: Vinnie Apicella

How's this for a new twist on the Medieval Metal scene? "Knights From Hell." And no, these are no ordinary knights, but the true "Black" knights; the evil masked figures that gallop in on the dark horse, swords raised and trailed by legions of corrupt followers to litter the landscape with hordes of slaughtered and doomed. Vassago is a Black Metaller's dream. First sign this ain't no ordinary day in Camelot? Try "Anal Fistfuck" for starters? read the lyrics, no surprises. Then a little midsummer's day sodomy to really get the blood flowing - "Raped By The Machine" - or "Thou Shalt Kill," the first and only of the King's commandments that preside over the rest of the similarly sewn fourteen tracks of death screams and debauchery. Headed by the team of Sin and Pepa (Vassago) of Lord Belial, Vassago first came to life back in '98 and for one reason or another couldn't make it stick. This record sounds as fresh and fierce as any you've encountered. Backed by a number of gratuitously titled session players, most notably the Sadistic Sodomizer and Suckdog doing their bits on drums and guitars, the sound is unmistakably heavy, something that surprisingly gets lost in the sometimes clammy and symphonic productions of the Black scene. "Knights From Hell's" odious theme doesn't suggest even a hint of rustic charm lay beneath the otherwise flammable surface of an all out war-against-all aggression. The blinding speed, jarring dissonance, thick riffs and scale runs and gut pukes (see Sin's contributions) are a slice of prehistory that reaches back to the catacombs and doesn't let up until the last cry of agony disappears in the distance. Noticeably nocturnal and similar to the bygone Slayer, Sodom, and Venom era of dark themes and war decrees, "Knights" draws further distinction in the stellar production work of the acclaimed Andy La Roque, who when he's not mixing, mastering, or feeding frets and fills for the King, lends an extra boost of bottom heavy tactical support to save the sound from unwelcome orchestral overbloating; the result is an audible piercing of perfect clarity with just the right amount of crudeness. The songs are tight with little regard for complex arrangements, forestry, or folksy effects, thus a true misnomer to the usual idea of Tolkien tales and power chords. Be forewarned, the songs move quickly considering, so fifteen, including about three instrumental bursts, cover a lot of ground in short gallops. Belial fans will no doubt take the cue, though there's a topical stretch, but few boundaries are broadly crossed here, as is the Black and Death Metal norm, and of the fifteen, some truly memorable moments exist in their "follow up" to their savage "Enter The Moonlight Gate." Cleverly interspersed throughout and without the beleaguered two, three, or four part nonsense in between, tracks like "Total War Brings Total Death" is a phenomenal follow up to the opening "Sign Of Vassago" which by comparison falls dead and demands a do over; "Cleansing," "Thou Shalt Kill!!!" and "Agent 666," the last one takes it, are soon to be extreme Metal classics that - surprise - already have an apparent five year head start! "The Origin Of Evil" and "Satanic Slayer (Division SS)" see their infernal fight lead to easy victory by way of rhythmic blitzkriegs that maintain their foothold even this far into the fields. "The Spell Of The Eastern Oracle" as the fade out, okay, it works. Where the Lord fell, Vassago emerged, and Satanic might arises again in the form of the evil Black Knight, a triumphant nightmare for fans of Mayhem, Immortal, Vader, and Dark Funeral.
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