Monday, 21 January 2013

[ALBUM REVIEW] Hell Militia - Jacob's Ladder


 Genre - Black Metal

1. Jacob’s Ladder
2. Jonah
3. Sternenfall
4. Death Worship
5. The Black Projector
6. Second Coming Of The Pig
7. Deus Irae
8. Jericho

Fresh off their recent signing to Season of Mist, Parisian black metal super-group Hell Militia have returned with their third offering and follow up to 2010's 'Last Station on the Road to Death'. With a roster boasting names who are linked with likes of Arkhon Infaustus, Bethlehem and Vorkriest among others spearheaded by the enigmatic genius that is former Mutiilation mastermind Meyhnach, it's hard to look past such a pedigree of names.

On paper Hell Militia should be untouchable with such a lineup but previous efforts were below average attempts at something which boasted so much more. 'Jacob's Ladder' is a vast improvement on the preceding albums it must be said, the band have appeared to continue their stylistic shift towards a manifestation more similarly aligned with the likes of Ascension, Dodecahedron and countrymen Deathspell Omega while still retaining that traditional orthodox Swedish vibe of Watain, Ofermod and the ilk.

When you look at the aforementioned bands recent success that can be a hard point to argue against. So does it work? To a degree yes but it's a style that has been performed and perfected so many times before now by the likes of DSO and Blut Aus Nord that it's inevitable anything anywhere remotely in the same vein immediately gets stacked up and dissected against what is essentially some of the best black metal created this side of the millennium, which just doesn't seem fair does it?

It is by no means bad though, the likes of the title track initiate things with an intense whirlwind of breakneck blasting and heavily obscure, piercing riffs accompanied by Meyhnach's wretched vocal delivery does make for some immersive listening at times even if this is a path extremely well worn by now.

Meyhnach's vocals are arguable the standout aspect of 'Jacob's Ladder', something which holds true for pretty much every album he's ever performed on, I mean just try and tell me 'Vampires of Black Imperial Blood' would be anywhere near lauded as much as it is without those twisted, schizophrenic vocals. The guitar work is well enough executed, steeped in layer upon layer of scything, caustic dissonance and the drumming tight and dynamic enough and when intertwined make for a heavily intricate and multi-faceted release which in practice should sound fantastic but in reality lacks that final sheen and memorability to really take this album to the next level.

For every decent passage there's another passage of exhausted and uninspiring boredom that has you reaching for the skip button. Take for example the likes of 'Death Worship' with its basic one dimensional rhythm and utterly stale riffing and the tedious and plodding dirge of 'Jericho' which overstays its welcome by about five minutes and you certainly have a lot of room for improvement.

Still though, tracks like 'The Black Projector' which contain some of the most impressive guitar work here, discordant ringing and sweeping riffs envelop the listener in a malevolence and filth that is unfortunately missing from a vast chunk of the rest of 'Jacob's Ladder'. Similarly 'Second Coming of the Pig' also harbours some fantastic pummeling moments of swirling chaos and an illustration that this isn't all complete monotony. And for fuck sake cut out those shitty B-movie samples next time around, the cliché barrel is completely and thoroughly scraped through in that regard.

Unfortunately once again Hell Militia fail to really deliver anything remotely threatening to those that they so obviously aim to emulate though it is at least an improvement on their previous releases which were to be frank, fucking shite. There are certain moments of inspiration scattered here and there but ultimately that's just not good enough and though the musicianship is indeed pretty impressive it doesn't have any particular coherence or definition. 'Jacob's Ladder' promises so much yet what we're left with is something altogether far too formulaic and non-eventful that it just wont cut it these days.


Originally written for Metalireland

Sounds like - Watain, Deathspell Omega, Ondskapt

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