order_of_apollyon - The Sword and the Dagger 01Hey, remember what I said about supergroups last year? In 2008, there was another conglomeration of established musicians based out of France called The Order of Apollyon, and it consisted of B.S.T. (Aosoth), James McIlroy (ex-Cradle of FilthChaosanct), Peter Benjamin (ex-AkercockeVoices) and Dan Wilding (CarcassTrigger the Bloodshed). Such a who’s who of death and black metal would create a whirlwind of head-twirling mayhem, right? Well, 2010’s The Flesh debut fell upon the unwashed masses in a sea of meh, revealing promise but not fulfilling it. Well, five years later, B.S.T. soldiers on with a new line-up, renewed focus, and a spring in his booted steps with The Sword and the Dagger. How does it sound? In one word: Polish.

Now, that’s not a slam against The Order of Apollyon whatsoever. But you can tell from the first proper track, “Hatred Over Will,” that they do love their Behemoth and Vader albums. The riffing of B.S.T. and S.R. (aka Saroth, Temple of Baal) is frantic yet purposeful, cleaving left and right as S.K. (aka Skvm, Temple of Baal) pummels along on the drums like a rhino on the purest of black Colombian gold. Melodic tremolo sections and a sweet solo near the end, and already I’m anticipating a more solid record.

And “solid” is putting it ever so mildly, because that’s The Sword and the Dagger at its very worst. The new line-up has definitely inspired B.S.T. to put forth some of his best music yet for The Order of Apollyon, as there are no clunkers on this record. “Al ‘ankabout” injects some Middle-Eastern influence in some of the intro melodies but thankfully avoids aping Nile in the process. “Hold Not Thy Peace, O God of My Praise” challenges Nergal and company in not only lofty song titles, but also in bringing some incredible atmosphere through sheer speed and riff magick. And speaking of atmosphere, “Our Flowers Are the Sword and the Dagger” stands out for not only some of the best songwriting on the album, but those final two minutes are some of the best windmill-inducing riffs, tremolo melodies, and tastefully fast drumming this album contains. If your head ain’t moving and you’re not dual-wielding invisible citrus, check your pulse.

order_of_apollyon - The Sword and the Dagger 02

There are some complaints I have to levy against The Sword and the Dagger, with the production being chief among them. Simply put, this sucker is loud. There are no dynamics at all, and you can barely eek out bassist F.D. Also, B.S.T.’s vocals periodically sound like they’re going to give out at times, but with repeated listens, they eventually won me over. I would have also placed closing track “Omnis Honor et Gloria” elsewhere on the album because, despite how good the song is, it’s the most tepid of the entire album.

So The Order of Apollyon avoided both the Sophomore Slump and the Supergroup Curse with The Sword and the Dagger. I’ve been needing a fix of quality blackened death metal for quite a while now, and this album fit the bill perfectly. I’m now going to kick back, grab a lemonade, and headbang to “Our Flowers Are the Sword and the Dagger” for the hundredth time today.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Listenable Records
Websites: Facebook.com/TheOrderofApollyon
Release Dates: EU: 2015.02.13 | NA: 03.17.2015

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  • John Mosley

    Ima listen right now. Right here real loud. Yep.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    As soon as I heard the opening strains of the embedded little ditty, I was hooked. Loud, but infectious. Yet another item to bolster the claim that March 2015 will go down in history as one of the great months for metal releases.

  • I know this is getting repetitive for everyone but man, when really good music gets bogged down by overly loud production it hurts. I mean there are points where the hi-hats just sound ridiculous, feels like somebody is just shaking tinfoil really close to the microphone..

    • d3ad13

      It’s not getting repetitive. People need to speak up and keep speaking up. Bands/labels/producers/promoters all read these sites, too, and they need to know how we as listeners and potential customers feel.

    • Wilhelm

      The thing I hate the most about these low DR albums is the drum sound – it especially hurts death metal bands or any extreme bands who rely on that effective instrument. This sounds like he has a felt sheet wrapped around his entire kit. The music is good, but I’m not interested…what a shame.

      • And it is usually the drums that take the biggest hit when an album is compressed at this insane level.

    • Tentacles

      Such a shame. The song is awesome, but I think to say that the hi-hats sound ridiculous is being generous.

      What I find incredible is that someone who must care about this band’s sound and whose life probably revolves around making and recording music had to sit there and say, ‘Oooh, yeah! That sounds good! That’s what drums should sound like.’

      Surely, if the issues are obvious to us they would be obvious to the band too? I would think at the very least the drummer would have listened to the master and said, ‘Errr, guys? I think maybe we need to rethink this because my kit sounds like it’s made out of cardboard!’

      On the other hand, if the vinyl mix is superior then this could be a great excuse to splurge some cash on a record player!

      • Wilhelm

        The bigger question is who are these “engineers” and why are they brickwalling a metal album that might not sell more than a couple hundred copies.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      What I really miss in crunchy recordings like this is the bassline. I realize that buried bass is an issue in many metal recordings, but, after hearing the incredible dynamics in the latest releases by Horrendous and Archspire, I realize how much listeners are missing in productions like this.

      This is a bit off-topic, but I believe that a great band functions as an organic whole of moving parts. What I mean by this rather new-agey touch-feely sentence is that each instrument has an important role to play in contributing to the overall sound.

      If you ever listen to live recordings of the Grateful Dead re-mastered off the original soundboards (the Dicks Picks series is a prime example), each instrument is clearly defined — lead and rhythm guitars, bass, piano, both drummers. You hear the instruments “communicating”, weaving textures with one-another, working off each other’s sounds. It always blows me away.

      I’m not a audiophile, but recordings like this sound monochromatic, or “mono”, compared to the “stereo” sound of the bands mentioned above.

      • Wilhelm

        Yep, I feel bad for bass players in these crushed recordings, if they aren’t turned up above everyone else they just wont get noticed – that’s an instrument that needs dynamics to survive, especially if they are playing derivatives on the guitar lines.

      • tomasjacobi

        Wait a minute. Did you put the words “incredible dynamics” and “Archspire” in the same sentence?
        The Lucid Collective is super compressed; DR4 if I remember correctly.

        • Monsterth Goatom

          I never checked the DR score on the Lucid Collective; it just doesn’t sound massed and punch-in-the-face loud, and I can pick out the individual instruments. Same thing for Hannes Grossmann’s latest (maybe I was confusing that with Archspire, as I was writing off the top of my head).

          • tomasjacobi

            Ok. I think it sounds very, very compressed. Like the Fallujah album it’s mixed well so it’s still listenable but it’s really flat and loud. The thing about being able to hear every instrument is exactly what you get with high compression. Everything is equally loud which is what causes people (me included) ear fatigue. The price you pay for this “I can hear everything” is that things that would normally be louder (like the drums) sound like shit.

          • Monsterth Goatom

            Maybe I’m confusing the mix with compression? I’m not sure I agree, however, that “The thing about being able to hear every instrument is exactly what you get with high compression”, as that would mean Ecdysis is highly compressed, which it isn’t (DR10). I’m still very much a newbie when it comes to things like this, so maybe I’m just mixing terms.

          • tomasjacobi

            I’m no expert either (at all). I think there are many reasons why a particular recording sounds good or bad. Where I tend to notice heavy compression is on the drums, which get crushed with digital limiters so that the overall volume can be raised without getting distortion on the loud peaks in the music.

  • I am a huge fan of the french black -black/death scene, so whenever a release of the scene gets a good review i am always happy.Nevertheless the album is really strong, and although it has much in common with the last album byTemple of Baal, i feel it is a bit better and consistent.

  • John Mosley

    Production not great. Shame.

    • michael rodrigues

      production doesn’t make a great album. personally i noticed nothing bad about the production

  • Doomdeathrosh

    Nothing like kicking back and windmilling to that embed with some lemonade…wait “LEMONADE”?! And that album cover is the best vague cover ever! But the album is a tad loud…but can live with that. Great Reveiw!

    • Grymm

      I love lemonade!

  • Mmmm. DR4. Crunchy.

    • Grymm

      A full dynamic range mix of this would have been amazing.

      • Tentacles

        I would sure like to hear that!

        Maybe you AMG chaps can ‘do a Fallujah’ and persuade someone at the label to let us hear some less compressed versions?

  • michael rodrigues

    first two seconds of video,, i was like damn i need this. this is what i have been waiting for

  • Excentric_1307

    Pretty sure this is compressed to the point that it’s no longer stereo. And that sucks because the sample track posted is pretty bad ass, especially the end. But it does scream for dynamics.

    I just went to their bandcamp page; I LOL’d when I saw that the song titles are in all caps.

  • Francesco Bordoni

    Shit. That title. Now I’m compelled to listen to Corpsessed’s “The Dagger & The Chalice” for the millionth time :8

    That being said, I’m surely checking this one out, though SHAME SHAME SHAME for that DR.

  • Tom Hardy

    Everyone’s concerned about the production more than the actual music writing? The latter is plain bad. Nothing memorable or attention grabbing. BST should stick to Aosoth and put this embarrassment behind.

  • Peter Hill

    Thank you Grymm for helping me discover these guys. and what a bunch of picky farkers in the comments. i don’t know shit about crap like DR4 but it sounds bloody good to me!