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Hecate Enthroned - "Virulent Rapture" (CD)

Hecate Enthroned - "Virulent Rapture" CD cover image

"Virulent Rapture" track listing:

1. Thrones of Shadow (4:46)
2. Unchained (4:37)
3. Abyssal March (4:08)
4. Plagued by Black Death (7:59)
5. Euphoria (4:43)
6. Virulent Rapture (5:30)
7. Life (5:19)
8. To Wield the Hand of Perdition (3:05)
9. Of Witchery and the Blood Moon (5:33)
10. Immateria (3:05)
11. Paths of Silence (6:43)

Reviewed by on December 9, 2013

"To be honest, “Virulent Rapture” sounds nothing like the band's early days, but the new sound is pretty killer, and it caps and furthers the earlier material admirably."

“Upon Promethean Shores (Unscriptured Waters)” was one of my early forays into black metal, and that debut EP from U.K. outfit Hecate Enthroned remains a personal favorite to this day. Primarily active from the late ‘90s to early ‘00s, the band was around for the tail end of European black metal’s heyday, last releasing an album back in 2004. Nine years later the group is back with “Virulent Rapture,” and while the sound has changed, the band continues to show why it was considered a powerhouse long ago.

Hecate Enthroned has been through several vocalists at this point, and this time around Elliot Beaver offers the growls and screams. His higher shrieks are incredibly hoarse, and then there are the more guttural growls complimenting the band’s death edge that keeps it from being straight kvlt black metal. To be honest, “Virulent Rapture” sounds nothing like the early days, but the new sound is pretty killer, and it caps and furthers the earlier material admirably.

While not a complete rehash of the ‘90s sound, these tracks still give off that old school vibe, but they are beefed up with bigger, more booming sounds. In proper U.K. black metal style, there are atmospheric and melodic parts interwoven throughout, and the symphonic elements even bring to mind the epic hybrid bands like Fleshgod Apocalypse. An instance where the mixing of melodic and extreme works particularly well is the piano intro of “Plagued By Black Death,” which then continues unabated throughout the song in the background of the furious black metal.

With a varied lineup of songs – there are three minute tracks and eight minute tracks, symphonic parts and brutal parts – “Virulent Rapture” is an all-around solid disc. The mix of black with death and classic with modern creates a satisfyingly frozen experience to cap off the year in metal that will appeal to old fans or new converts.

Highs: Black meets death, symphonic meets extreme, classic meets modern

Lows: The band essentially sounds nothing like it used to, and the acoustic guitar interlude track is a bit out of place

Bottom line: Hecate Enthroned caps off the year with an impressive mixing of black with death, modern with classic, and extreme with symphonic.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)