V: The Devils Fire

If you travel in the metal circles, suffice to say you have heard of Baptism. If not, you have most certainly been exposed to Lord Sargofagian in some way. Be it either with his main group Baptism but also his other projects and or associations; Calvarium, Horna, Behexen, Black Death Ritual, needless to say, the man gets around. With Baptism, long considered a bit of the old guard in the Finnish scene, with roots dating back to 1998 and with such albums The Beherial Midnight and Morbid Wings of Sathanas, he has set the standard for cold, auditory bleakness. While past albums, not necessarily full on necro or one dimensional black metal, they offer up a form of blackness that can draw the listener in with his style of black metal.  I say “his” style because he tends to be the sole musician on his albums with help from others from time to time. (more on this later) Granted I have heard bits and pieces of his work, my only real exposure to the band is Morbid Wings of Sathanas and I feel in sound they offer up a good cross of later day Watain and with touches of melodic blackness put forth by Sacramentum and Lord Belial with the mood and atmospherics. In the guitar driven melodies.

Now having said that, we move on to the latest release V: The Devil’s Fire and if you go with my above description and listen to this chapter of the Baptism saga, you may be crying foul or wonder if Mr. Sarcofagian has gone a bit soft in this day and age. What we have now is a more warm sounding album, a more varied album with better production and (gasp!) clean vocals. Right after the intro “Natus Ex Ignis”, the band launches into “Satananda”, besides the aforementioned better production values, the song is almost typical Baptism in its approach at the beginning. The razor riffing, the vocals, hateful and malignant or shall I say Infectious? Its at the ¾ point you get some clean vocal chants and keyboards that are slightly reminiscent of Empyrium (Ger). In no way is this over the top Dimmu Borgir sound but it does offer something different to the Baptism repertoire.

The song “Devil’s Fire” has that raw powerful feel also, The drums are all over the place,strong and forceful adding that power to the songs and the album itself. What is a bit different, although however brief, is melodic guitar interlude. It brings the song itself into a little bit different territory, but not taking away anything in riffing. The song “Malignant Shadows” harkens most to the past with is slower, spoken word beginning and the rumbling in with a faster mid paced banter. The vocals of Lord Sargofagian are particularly noteworthy here, adding that perfect snarl to the song. Speaking of vocals, granted  session bass, drums and additional guitars players are on the album, different vocalists are utilized. I dont have the booklet to be sure but from what can gather is that they may be providing the different clean vocal approaches heard on the various numbers on the CD. Closing number “Buried With Him” and at a tad over 7 mins is the most grandiose in its nature and offers the dual vocalist approach , here represented at the final 3 quarters. It’s here, that you hear a difference with the lower spoken word growling. With its subtle use of keyboards and more slow burn approach to this song, makes it a worthy closer.

So in closing, we see Baptism, not forgetting nor losing too much of the past and still keeping true to the heart of black metal, but also expanding their blackened wings to encompass a more varied approach. Overall a worthy addition to the library and stalwarts of the Finnish scene.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Will 'Bones' Lee
October 6th, 2016


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