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Root - "Hell Symphony (25 Year Anniversary Reissue) " (CD)

Root - "Hell Symphony (25 Year Anniversary Reissue) " CD cover image

"Hell Symphony (25 Year Anniversary Reissue) " track listing:

1. Belzebu
2. Belial
3. Lucifer
4. Abaddon
5. Asmodeus
6. Satan
7. Leviathan
8. Astoroth
9. Loki
10. The Prayer
11. (Live) Leviathan
12. (Live) Lucifer
13. (LIve) Asmodeus
14. (Live) Loki
15. (Live) Belial

Reviewed by on December 11, 2016

"While Root transformed into something more epic in later years, 'Hell Symphony' has a varied sound, catchy passages and pure evilness that is hard to beat."

The second wave of black metal had just begun to form in 1991. Besides a very small following, the true kings of Norwegian black metal like Ulver, Arcturus, Emperor, Satyricon and Burzum weren’t talked about much outside of Nordic lands. While bands like Graveland, Behemoth and Nokturnal Mortum would become representatives of Eastern European black metal, Eastern Europe was even known less than Norway. One of the bands that forged the way for Eastern Euro black metal was Root. Thanks to Eternal Death Records, listeners can hear the classic Satanic metal album, “Hell Symphony,” released a quarter of a century ago. Those with a copy of the original should be delighted to know the band added raw, live tracks to this edition.

“Hell Symphony” is an album that truly lives up to its name. Each song ritualistically praises the various form of Satan. I assume it is based on the works of Anton LeVay’s Satanic Bible. Atmosphere, drums of doom, horns, gongs, chanting and spooky spoken word segments result in a work of sonic malevolence difficult to emulate. “The Prayer” contains dark, acoustic melodies and divine keyboards while “Abaddon” includes a majestic horns section.

“Satan” is the most grandiose of tracks. The drums have a tribal, pagan sort of vibe that LeVay surely incorporated into his religious (non-religious) rites. There is even a gong, which is probably produced by keys, but epic nonetheless. Odes to the angel of light are given in the form of ritual passages and maniacal laughter.

Musically, the band is all over the place. Doom, thrash, black metal, and death metal all make an appearance. What makes much of the album great is the band’s ability to take these influences and build tempo and intensity. “Leviathan” begins on a cursed, doom note. Around the two-minute mark the band adds a mournful melody. At the 2:30 mark, the song takes a classic metal turn. Thirty seconds later, the song gets more intense with speed picking. They push the speed barrier even further with blast beats and quick tremolo picking.

Other than the creepy narration at the beginning of the song, “Belzebub” is an instrumental. The track is a lesson in dynamics, morphing doom, death metal, black metal, and ultra catchy thrash. “Asmodeus” mostly crawls, but low-end, palm muted death metal riffing and wild solos instill a sinister quality to the track. Vocalist Big Boss makes his mark on the blackened offering with a variety of voices including spoken narrations, whispers, growls, and screams. His voice could be compared to another Eastern Europe vocalist, Attila of Hungary, who at that time was known for his black/speed metal group Tormentor.

While Root transformed into something more epic in later years, “Hell Symphony” has a varied sound, catchy passages and pure evilness that is hard to beat. For those first hearing about this album in this review, I highly suggest you pick it up. That is if you can handle the enveloping darkness.

Highs: "Satan, "Belzebub," "Leviathan"

Lows: No lows, there is nothing I can criticize.

Bottom line: Classic evil metal album. Get it!

Rated 5 out of 5 skulls
5 out of 5 skulls


Key
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)