On the hunt for some mid-eighties style hybrid black thrash packed with blasphemous Venom? Well, as luck would have it the Greek titans, Satan’s Wrath, are back in black, sporting a lineup change, and they have just such a putrid platter! Back in 2012, Galloping Blasphemy hit the shelves and it proved without a doubt that Satan’s Wrath had found a way to capture lightning in a bottle – I can’t say whether it was the fact that their songs sat fermenting or brewing for years achieving just the right balance between speed and trve black metal, whether their original lineup was golden, or it was just plain old black magic of the most cvlt kind. For whatever reason, it succeeded. Their follow-up Aeons of Satan’s Reign exited the cooker faster, releasing only a year later with more polish and while still good, it’s never hit the hellish heights of its predecessor. Die Evil sees Satan’s Wrath dropping the polish, handling the production in guitarist Stamos K’s own 210 Studios in Berlin and putting pedal to the metal with another nightmarish ride to insanity. Satan’s Wrath are hoping to re-capture the lightning effect of Galloping Blasphemy and I’m raring to go and check out whether the slow brew process worked that much-needed magik.
From “Raised on Sabbaths” it’s easy to hear that Satan’s Wrath are still delivering thrashy anthems true to their sound. Unfortunately, it’s also around this point that you’re made plenty aware that there’s very little unexpected on Die Evil and that while the band are putting their heart into their grim work, the new effort doesn’t quite recapture the earworminess of Galloping Blasphemy. As a band, Satan’s Wrath are still sporting all the same influences – Venom, Slayer, Possessed and Destruction. They’re all still there and in fact you’ll even hear similarities to Death Breath as they highlight the sound of bygone days when death, black and thrash metal were essentially one. Digging deeper, “Satanic War,” “Diabolical Shudder” and “Die Evil” are all fun, headbanger friendly, thrashy anthems, with meaty, rambunctious guitar solo’s slipping in and out of earshot.
The album hits a rocking high point around “Coffinlust,” easily the strongest track on the album, with Tas Danazoglou’s bass and vocals, V and Stamos K on guitars and Kostas now on drums all contributing to a catchy, pounding percussive quality that makes it tough to put it down. There are a few moments of doom-like drudgery at the start of “Dead of the Shallow Graves” along with some particularly demented guitar soloing before you hit “A Mindless Servant of Satan,” a number that brings to the fore the bombastic nature of the musical shifts and changes making up Die Evil. Around the mid-point of the track you’re faced with a few confusing moments where it sounds like Satan’s Wrath gained access to Forgotten Tombs festival stage in an attempt to cash in on their sound and hijack their crowd… color me delighted.
My big gripe with Die Evil is in the production and more specifically, the treatment of Tas’ vocal delivery. In an ideal setting Tas has the crushing throatyness of Jeff Becerra on Seven Churches or Celtic Frost/Triptykon‘s Tom Gabriel Fischer combined with Marduk‘s Mortuus, but here on Die Evil it seems like he was an afterthought with his rumble buried to the point where it amounts to little more than a weak gurgle. This saddens me as a large part of my attraction to Satan’s Wrath was the exuberance and strength of Tas’ roars, growls and hails to the almighty Satan!
Die Evil, as with Aeons of Satan’s Reign, has definite moments where Satan’s Wrath come close to reaching the catchiness of Galloping Blasphemy. And outside of the production issues that profoundly trouble me, this is a decent follow-up album. It certainly adds value to the band’s growing discography but once again, Satan’s Wrath have failed to recapture their earlier lightning in a bottle moment. Better luck next time I guess.