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Atrocity - "Okkult" (CD)

Atrocity - "Okkult" CD cover image

"Okkult" track listing:

1. Pandaemonium (6:12)
2. Death By Metal (3:28)
3. March Of The Undying (3:50)
4. Haunted By Demons (3:49)
5. Murder Blood Assassination (5:41)
6. Necromancy Divine (6:48)
7. Satan's Braut (3:17)
8. Todesstimmen (2:03)
9. Masaya (Boca Del Infierno) (3:02)
10. When Empires Fall To Dust (4:16)
11. Beyond Perpetual Ice (3:39)
12. La Voisine (8:08)

Reviewed by on April 2, 2013

"With 'Okkult,' the orchestral parts act as a harmonic parasite, allowing the host of extreme elements to breathe enough to strike out with tentacles of malevolence while attaching itself like a thick black rhapsodic skin."

I am sure many find Atrocity’s long history of brilliant innovation as “an acquired taste,” having ventured into pure death metal, then technical/industrial death, then gothic death, then straight gothic, then slowly making its way full circle to symphonic death on “Atlantis” and then ending up pure gothic again on “After the Storm.” For me, the ride has been a roller coaster of pure excitement, where more conservative fans might flash a more confusing eyebrow. For critics and fans that spout off about bands needing to “sound different” and “invent new genres,” Atrocity should have been your watershed band.

Outside of Voivod, Atrocity has explored so many territories that there exists no discernible genre tag suitable for them. Just when you think you heard it all, founder Alexander Krull will just turn around and outshine Simple Minds with a cover gleaming with his brilliant clean vocal style. Now comes “Okkult,” which hits the proverbial reset button and throws the band back into the fiery chasm from whence it came, a hellish onslaught of brutal death highlighted by the psychotic play of Victor Smolski and Rage’s Lingua Mortis Orchestra….a marriage of pure evil and pure beauty.

Over the last couple of years, it seemed that Atrocity had a sound that was on a collision course with Leaves Eyes, the symphonic metal band which essentially consists of the same band members along with Krull’s wife Liv Kristine. If I didn’t know any better, it would seem that with “Okkult,” Krull has plunged a fork of distinction in that course and the styles are completely separate once again, as they really should be. Sporting his naturally perfect death growls for the entire album, and only the occasional operatic female backing vocals (See the fantastically demonic “Necromancy Divine”), the album will bring back glory days for extreme fans. In a strike at the symphonic brilliance of Maurizo Iacono’s “Caligvla” with Ex Deo, Krull has pulled out all the stops by writing equally malevolent orchestrated material and then employing Victor Smolski’s Lingua Mortis Orchestra to contribute to one of the greatest symphonic death masterpieces ever assembled.

With “Okkult,” the orchestral parts act as a harmonic parasite, allowing the host of extreme elements to breathe enough to strike out with tentacles of malevolence while attaching itself like a thick black rhapsodic skin. At its core, the album has a distinct feel of the 1992 release “Todessehnsucht,” with much better production work, but devoid of industrial or gothic elements. The guitars are tuned to a nice crusty Morbid Angel depth and Krull’s death growls are particularly malignant. With the combination of deadly extreme and symphonic rapture, Atrocity has created its best album in the band’s 28 year history by far.

Album opener “Pandæmonium” sets the perfect setting, a dark twisted symphonic labyrinth luring you in to the torture chamber when Krull detonates his first death roar amidst the grinding riffs of Thorsten Bauer and Sander van der Meer. The gorgeously sinister chorale dulls the listener as the band unleashes a bludgeoning not seen from Atrocity in many years. The listener’s only way out is to turn it off…but the dizzying array of brutality is one of the strongest aphrodisiacs as riff after riff slices into the mind on the albums most brutal “Death by Metal.” With no let up until the album’s end, the band has only re-established it as one of metal’s most deadly…with your author enraptured by the Mercyful Fate-esque guitar in “Haunted By Demons,” the blood red trail left by “Murder Blood Assassination,” the fetching riff in “Satans Braut” (cue perfect pauses), and the blast beats of “Masaya.” However, far and away the best track on the release and the best the band has ever offered is in the form of the twisted bewitchment “Necromancy Divine.”

It has been a long and interesting road for this innovative and brilliant band, even though many fans may not realize its true genius. Fans of both symphonic and extreme will find a feast for the ears with this album, which comes dangerously close to rising to the brilliance of Ex Deo. Certainly, “Okkult” represents the band’s most poisonous album to date and in terms of symphonic death metal it is pure perfection. Extreme lovers should herald the return of Atrocity back to the fold, having completely shed its gothic moth cocoon, out of which out has slithered the mucus glistening serpent of prime evil.

Highs: Pure symphonic death at its malevolent best.

Lows: Gothic metal fans will find no solace here.

Bottom line: With Atrocity firmly back to its death roots, fans should be ready to join its "Okkult."

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 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)