Review: Kult ov Azazel and Idolatry – Luciferian Vengeance

koa-idolatry_originalWritten by the Black Metal Bitch

The concept of the split album has been around for a while now; one of the earliest I could find was the Beatles and The Four Seasons back in the mid-60’s, but more recently it’s been a fairly common occurrence in the underground metal scene, particularly for the grindcore and black metal scene. It’s a great way for bands on a budget to get music to the fans and often times a great way to introduce similar acts. I normally stick to full lengths in terms of writing up reviews, but when two killer underground black metal bands come together I can’t help but review it.

First up we have Kult ov Azazel, a band who needs no introduction to fans of the U.S. Black Metal scene; this Fort Lauderdale, Florida five piece is probably the biggest name when it comes to USBM. Formed in 1999 the band has been a powerhouse since its inception and very first, official release, the extended play The Order of the Fly. Since then the group has released five full length albums, seven splits, a handful of EPs and appeared on a number of compilation albums. The band is currently working on another full length album according to our recent interview with KOA founding member, Xaphan (feel free to check out the full interview HERE), but recently teamed up with Canadian Black Metal Lords, Idolatry.

Hailing from Edmonton, Alberta, this terror from the north may not have the experience of their counterparts in KOA but since the band formed in 2014 they have been hard at work touring and writing new material since their first full length, last year’s Visions From the Throne of Eyes and according to their recently departed singer, Lord Matzigfeitus, the band wanted to continue their momentum with this split.

Opening up the nine song split is Kult ov Azazel’s ‘Corpus Edimus, Sanguinem Bibimus,’ which is definitely one of their slower tracks with a very punishing but very black guitar track and thunderous double bass drumming. While the general rhythm of this one is on the slower than usual for the USBM titans, it doesn’t stay that way for long with some very old school riffs put to work while Hag’s trademark growls spew blasphemy and terror.

‘Into the Belly of the Beast’ is classic KOA – traditional black metal riffs slay throughout, there’s a hint of war metal in the overall mix but also a touch of classic Mayhem. The addition of Necrol on guitar definitely adds a new element to Azazel’s sound, those of you familiar with his other project, Secrets She Kept, will definitely notice something new in the song structure; it’s dark, evil and a bit more death metal but still very much KOA and it’s certainly prevalent in “The Serpent Apep,” which is a headbanging, mosh pit friendly meat grinder complete with slamming breakdowns and intricate, death metal guitars. Hammer displays some incredible endurance with surgical accuracy, brutal machine gun snare, loads of fills and blast beats.

Wrapping up Kult’s portion of the split is ‘Dawn of Luciferian Enlightenment.’ I feel the Kult is definitely broadening their sound, it’s evolved quite a bit over the past few years and “Dawn” is a fine example of their evolution. It’s more groove oriented than their previous work and instead of relying on the straightforward blitzkreig attack, the band maintains its roots but expands on older formulas which is a welcome surprise. Make no mistake, this is as black as black gets, but there’s something very new about these four tracks and I can’t wait to hear what the band has in store for their next full length album.

Idolatry’s first contribution is ‘Sentient Burning unto Ecclesiastic Tombs’ which is extremely raw and very reminiscent of the early second wave. The production value is a step down from KOA’s, but they deliver with intensity and chaotic energy.

‘Nigh is Deathstrifing her Sad Flock’ is all out war and guitarists Nox and Lycaon lead the charge with a wall of distortion and turbo charged tremolo riffs. Lord M.’s demonic howls reinforce the charge and around the halfway point the band shift gears to a more “chug-a-lug” rhythm, that low end bass churns along and the lead tears into an evil solo. Idolatry may forgo the studio polish but they demonstrate their ability to lay down hate.

‘Catastrophe Whispered Schizophrenia’ is exactly how it sounds; there’s some jerky, off-tempo moments on this one that I wasn’t a huge fan of but those are short lived and make way for the punishing, black soul of the track. This one has a thrash feel, it’s unrelenting throughout but it does seem to get sloppy around the halfway point – definitely not my favorite song on the split.

‘Arise Upon Failure’s Dawn’ opens slow and eerie; howls and simplistic riffs lead the way before that up tempo tremolo picks up again. Idolatry seem to follow a very overused formula, the delivery itself tends to be a bit sloppy and redundant and I feel the group is taking the safe road, a noticeable difference from the first half of this split. It’s not bad, it’s just nothing new and for the most part it lacks depth. It’s straight forward, it’s heavy and evil but I can’t help but feel they could do better.

‘Clef Au Chambre De Tristesse’ closes the split and I would have to say this one is Idolatry’s finest contribution. There’s a very Dissection-esque feel throughout, especially in the beginning with its cleaner guitar sound that reminds me of “Storm of the Light’s Bane” with its terrifying melody. This track seems tighter than the others and midway through the crew bring the pain with some very well done metal – instead of using the blistering, full throttle approach with everyone playing as fast as they can, there’s a very organized and fluid progression as the song slows down and the band find that perfect harmony as a unit. Towards the end of this one it has a Cultes Des Ghoules moment with a spoken word chant and the music sounds more sinister despite it being less frantic and balls out.

All in all this is a solid must have split for fans of both bands. Hardcore fans of Kult ov Azazel will appreciate the new, evolved sound employed here and while Idolatry didn’t quite knock it out of the ballpark (at least in my opinion) they definitely deserve their share of the glory. Luciferian Vengeance marks two different points of two different bands. With KOA’s newest lineup this could very well be the beginning of a new chapter for the Florida legends and for Idolatry this is where the band is vying for recognition and supremacy after their first full length. The next few years will be very interesting for both groups, I’m excited to see where each of these monsters goes and what the next full length holds in store for each. 7.5/10

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