Atrocity – Okkult Review

Atrocity // Okkult
Rating: 3.5/5.0 — “Back from the dead, born again to judge you”
Label: Napalm Records
Release Dates: EU: 2013.04.26 | NA: 05.07.2013

Atrocity 300x300Yes, Atrocity have indeed lived up to their name and not in the way one hopes for in death metal, technical, melodic or otherwise. They’re the band that brought out the very un-metal Werk 80 consisting of ‘metalled up’ covers of ’80’s pop songs [AMG approves of this concept AMG]. Oh and wait for it they didn’t stop there, 11 years down the line they doubled the atrocity with the release of Werk 80 II (a double album offering). But I digress, Atrocity hail from Germany and over their weighty discography they’ve floundered around between technical death, folk, gothic and industrial. With Okkult (their 12th full length) they’re dabbling more successfully in a kind of no-holds-barred blackened, symphonic, technical death that reminds me of a Fleshgod Apocalypse, Septicflesh, Rotting Christ and Vesania mash-up… the most heavenly of all hells! So at its simplest, this old-timey quartet are riding the wave of symphonic tainted death, they’ve grabbed horror and suspense by the jugular and now Okkult pours forth in all its bloody, fucked up glory and yes I’m completely psyched and so should you be!

Okkult kicks off with the aptly titled, John Milton (Paradise Lost) inspired track “Pandæmonium.” As the name implies it’s the height of Hell, including an eerie opener brought to life by Katie Halliday (sound designer on Saw V, VI and VII [Wait. There are 7 Saw movies? I hate this world. AMG]) and well placed orchestration courtesy of the Lingua Mortis Orchestra. Alexander Krull (owner of Mastersound Entertainment Studio and hubby of Liv Kristine [ex-Theatre of Tragedy, Leaves’ Eyes]) more than aptly handles vocals on this delicious metal monster and his abhorrent, nasty and not for the faint of heart, harsh vocal style is very similar to that of Spiros Antoniou (Septicflesh) and Sakis Tolis (Rotting Christ). Outside of “Pandæmonium”, Alexander’s demented vocals really come out to play on the Vesania flavoured track “March of the Undying” and on “Necromancy Divine” that has all the passion necessary to bring famous witch Erictho back to life once again.

Atrocity 2013Thorsten Bauer (guitar and bass), Sander van der Meer (guitar) and Joris Nijenhuis (drums) certainly know their instruments. Outside of Thorsten and Sander’s creepy-ass guitar work that smacks of lunacy in “March of the Undying”, “Beyond Perpetual Ice” and “La Voisine”, Joris shines on tracks like “Masaya (Boca Del Infierno),” “Pandæmonium” and “Murder Blood Assassination” all of which showcase what makes metal great: brutal blast beats, thundering double bass and some serious chops.

Despite the cold subject matter, the album has a warm, earthy and natural mix that contrasts well with the dark, cold, horror-like atmospheric elements and brings out the huge and dramatic orchestrations. My only real gripe then is the flow of the album – what’s with “Todesstimmen”? I’ve yet to figure out its purpose, mostly it just feels like an awkward, lurching jump between the already out of place, but addictive “Satans Braut” and the following track “Masaya (Boca Del Infierno)”. Still, 11 out of 12 ain’t bad I guess!

This is a well-written and intelligent album, my favorite tracks ended up being “Pandæmonium” for obvious reasons, “Haunted by Demons” which tells the story of a haunted Scottish castle, “Satans Braut” which I’m sure will become a live hit and “La Voisine,” which tells the tale of a fortune teller, poisoner and an alleged sorceress of the same name. Okkult is a high-energy, moshpit-friendly album and I can safely say that it’s Atrocity’s biggest, best and most brutal offering yet, marking a perfect start to the trilogy they have planned for release. [So… When is Werk 80 III coming out? — Steel Druhm].

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