Thursday, November 24, 2016

Principality of Hell - "Sulfur & Bane" (Osmose Productions, 2016)

Band: Principality of Hell
Title: Sulfur & Bane
Genre: Black/Thrash metal
Year: 2016
Time: 62 min
Rating: 76/100

You can read my review (in Italian) of one year ago about "Fire and Brimstone":

Do you remember when, into the review of the last Agatus, I cited the Thou Art Lord as one of the historic Greek black metal bands? Well, today you’ll meet the Principality of Hell, a trio of veterans composed entirely of Thou Art Lord’s members: the hyperactive vocalist/bassist The Magus (also Necromantia and Rotting Christ… and I told you everything!), the drummer Maelstrom (ex-Thy Darkened Shade among his innumerable experiences) and the guitarist El (also Diavolos). These  3 guys founded the Principality of Hell for a total homage to the older roots of black metal releasing through the German label World Terror Committee the excellent debut album “Fire and Brimstone” in 2014 with very toe-tapper songs like the motörheadian titletrack. So, this year, Principality of Hell have released their sophomore album “Sulfur & Bane” on CD and LP on 28th October  through the French label Osmose Productions. And I must say that this album is a true homage to those aforementioned roots, not only for a cover artwork very close to the one of the seminal “Welcome to Hell” of Venom but also for the last 6 tracks of “Sulfur & Bane” because all of them are covers of classics of the so-called “first wave of black metal”! In short, now Principality of Hell have really reached levels of the most absolute devotion!

Well, the new 10 tracks of “Sulfur & Bane” shows exactly the same black/thrashing metal sound of the debut album, also maybe with a little less rocking motörheadian touch (present a little in the assault of “Den of the Serpent”) but with a stronger ‘90s black metal feeling, like in “Sons of the Desert”, a dark and mostly slow song. But the band is still able to alternate the skullcrushing black/thrash metal assaults (main of them is surely the merciless “In the Shadows of Sodom”, unstoppable throughout the song) with the doomish tracks, where Principality of Hell seems to be a perfect clone of the Celtic Frost (at this point, listen especially to “The Invisible Empire” and “Black Ram”!). All this is played through good dynamics and tempo changes, especially during the faster songs but, my metalheads friends, forget completely the blast-beats because you will find these ones only in some occasional moments of “Den of the Serpent”.

A curious skill of the Principality of Hell comes from the vocals of The Magus: in fact, he uses a more guttural voice in the slower songs while screaming in a more diabolic black metal manner in the faster tracks. And all this not forgetting the performances both of El (some of his solos are even a bit melodic!), and Maelstrom (very able to spew forth some good variations so to give a little unpredictability to the entire music).
But now has arrived the moment of the covers! In this sense, Principality of Hell have made a little lesson about the black metal roots digging up some classics ranging from 1981 and 1985 because, as stated by the same band, “if we were 10-12 years older, this is the music which would have been released in 1983-1984”. So, here you are covers like “Black Magic” of Slayer or “Sacrifice” of Bathory (already released for a compilation-tribute to the 1984). And these 6 tracks are very true to the originals featuring even some guest vocalists as Acherontas V. Priest (Acherontas) on “Dawn of Megiddo” of Celtic Frost, Sakis (Rotting  Christ) on the ferocious “Blasphemer” of Sodom and Nick. J. Tragakis (Exarsis) on…”Evil Invaders” of the Canadians Razor, where Principality of Hell are almost unrecognizable (also too much!) just due to the Nick’s vocals! And don’t forget the ultra-abused “In League with Satan” of Venom…obviously!

What can I also say about “Sulfur & Bane”? Only one more thing: that I prefer the faster songs than the slower ones and, also if there aren’t true anthems like the speeding titletrack of “Fire and Brimstone”, numbers as “Blood Moon Rising” (which starts after the short spoken intro of “A Prayer”), “The Diabolist” and the violent “In the Shadows of Sodom” are very amazing! But now this review is over and check out this album if you are irreducible fans of the early Slayer, Bathory, Sodom and Celtic Frost!

1 – A Prayer
2 – Blood Moon Rising
3 – Sons of the Desert
4 – The Invisible Empire
5 – Sulfur & Bane
6 – The Diabolist
7 – In the Shadows of Sodom
8 – The Black Ram
9 – Den of the Serpent
10 – The Marble Witch
11 – Blasphemer (Sodom cover)
12 – Dawn of Megiddo (Celtic Frost cove)
13 – Black Magic (Slayer cover)
14 – Evil Invaders (Razor cover)
15 – In League with Satan (Venom cover)
16 – Sacrifice (Bathory cover)

The Magus – vocals/bass
El – guitars
Maelstrom – drums

Guest vocalists:
Acherontas V. Priest (“Dawn of Megiddo”)
Sakis (“Blasphemer”)
Nick J. Tragakis (“Evil Invaders”)

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