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Review: Azaghal – Alttarimme on Luista Tehty

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Review by K

Azaghal – Alttarimme on Luista Tehty

Record Label: Immortal Frost Productions

Year: 2023

Rating: 8/10


Not to be pronounced “Rimming of Lusty Titties,” Finland’s Azaghal has seemingly graced us with their 9th (count ‘em) studio album, and unshockingly, because it’s Finnish, it seems pretty good. The opening title track carries a beautifully catchy main riff and the vocals are very competently spat in our direction by bass/ vocalist Niflungr.  As faintly daft as the name sounds, it can’t beat the bands’ name for their early drummer, an electronic drum machine called “ Unhuman War Machine.”  Honestly, sometimes these bands just bring it on themselves…

 

Anyhoo, track 2, the tongue ripplingly named “Kuolemanmarssi” is a straighter, less melodic affair than the opener. Reasonably fast and nudging the top of the aggression scale, this is a good solid exercise in humanity hate with venomous riffs and fuming vocals. This one will slay live on stage.

 

“…Kultti” slithers onto the scene with a heavily distorted bass riff giving way to a stuttering intro that in turn gives way to a riff that, and I’m not joking, is an almost perfect note-for-note retelling of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” Uncanny. I’ve no idea if this is coincidence or worship but in a weird way it does work. A bit weirded out, I’ve decided to knock on to “Paholaisen Musta Kieli,” so far the fastest and nastiest track on the album. Here we’re back in early Marduk territory, straight Black Metal from the manual, complete with heavy, spooky reverbs in the slower sections. Best track so far by a distance.

 

“Myrkkyä” isn’t slow in introducing itself. 2 bars of intro then we’re off at Mach 1 with everything on fire, even Unhuman War Machine if he’s still plugged in…..BM isn’t known for its wonderful guitar solos but one manages to sneak in here and it’s actually welcome, although to be honest, the high standard of riffing throughout this album doesn’t really warrant a solo.  Nice to hear the band flexing different muscles though. Bonus points for the creepy outro.

 

“Kaaos” (thank fuck for an easy title) is another sub 3 minute bolt of black lightning that drops down all the minor scales and torturously work its way back up them before segueing nicely into the chorus. All rather slick. The songcraft and standard of writing on display are certainly top drawer. Another ripper.

 

Azaghal

 

Without pausing for breath, “Syöpäläinen”  (I’ve heard the song twice whilst typing the title) blasts out of the traps with another nod to the fuck you aggression of Marduk and is probably the most furious track on display here. My new favourite, this track just does everything right, with pure Finnish panache and style. I hope Azaghal finishes their gigs with this one. The place will be on fire. Bloody wonderful.

 

As we know, BM is nothing without a healthy dash of sorrowful riffing. It’s something I’ve always appreciated in music, regardless of genre, a good sad minor chord arrangement. Happy music just pisses me off. “Syvyydestä Liekkien Takaa” (fuck sake) has a beautifully melancholic feel with the subtle rhythm guitar changes creating a moody well-crafted slab of gloom. Pure Black Metal and rather different from “Verivirta,” which is snapping at its heels with an insanely catchy riff to begin with and some more wonderful harmonics mid-track. As this album is now coming together, it’s clear that Azaghal has created a really strong collection of tracks that are well thought out, well produced and well executed.

To finish the album with a flourish we are treated to the strains of “Ei Valoa Tuonelassa” which builds even further on the lush foundations of the previous track and then “Seitsemän Ihmisen Irvikuvaa” to conclude matters, This final track is, I think, the longest of the album, clocking in around the 5-minute mark and seems to cover off pretty much everything that’s been on offer so far. There’s some mid-paced chugging, some faster aggression and some beautifully arranged melancholy. Toward the end, there’s a rather odd minute that’s in a different key to the rest of the track that feels as if it’s been shoe-horned in. It doesn’t quite spoil the track but it’s certainly odd, rather like an afterthought that’s been shoved in a little haphazardly. Not a disaster but a school teacher would certainly put a red question mark next to it.

 

So all in all this is a solid release and Azaghal should be proud. This is an album you can grab from the cd rack and show your mates without fear. It’s nasty, melancholic in parts, savage in others and always consistently high quality. Azaghal haven’t tried to be too clever or smart with this one, they have merely shown us their considerable skill as musicians and songwriters. And the album is all the better for it.


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