It has, arguably, been a very good time for black and death metal. With bands such as Behemoth and Vader receiving a greater (and much deserved) share of press attention, as well as recent albums from Ov Hell, Darkthrone and Gorgoroth keeping the flame burning bright it is the perfect time for The Order of Apollyon, a new band featuring members of bands such as Cradle of filth, Akercoke and Aborted, who have arrived with an awesome new album with almost prophetic timing. Much like Behemoth, Order of Apollyon play the most uncompromising form of blackened death metal, but with an ear for melody and production that sets them towards the head of the pack. However, before we review the album we have an interview with singer/guitarist BST to introduce you to a band who are destined to do great things. Read and learn:
BD: Considering the bands that you have been involved with in the past, did you feel that that created an aura of expectation about Order of Apollyon that you wouldn’t normally find around a new band?
BST: Hails. I suppose you are right. There is a good reason why we chose those musicians to be a part of The Order. We have a strong message to convey and we needed to have notorious people amongst us to make the audience curious about this band, which is more than just a band but also a way to represent the ideological group that really is the Order of Apollyon.
BD: Given that there is far more interest in black and death metal these days, particularly in the mainstream, what do you feel Order of Apollyon have to offer?
BST: I think we just play a heavy form of Black Death metal, pretty catchy and accessible but at the same time very brutal and raw, with a natural production and a live feel to it. And also we offer a spiritual message that is meant to guide the youth into acceptance of a higher power, rejection of the illusion of free will, and inner peace through devotion.
BD: The new album is a very, very strong debut album – is this the result of the combined experience that the members of the band brought to the table?
BST : I do not have enough distance to make such judgement, but I suppose the fact that we all have been playing extreme music for years makes this album sound the way it does. I’m very happy with it anyway, we’ll see how people react to it, but at least I know I was genuine and sincere while writing and recording it, and it sounds like I imagined it should have.
BD: What lyrical themes do Order of Apollyon explore?
BST : The whole album revolves around the notion of passage between the material and the spiritual. The examples that have been used through the cd are the use of devotion as a tool to distance yourself from all earthly attachments, the use of drugs and rituals to get your mind closer to God, the fall of angels unto earth and their betrayal when they chose to mate with the daughters of men, bringing the rise of the Nephilim….
BD…and what inspires your lyrics?
BST : Religion, History, Man, Life….
BD: To what extent do you feel the UK black/death metal scene is overshadowed by the Norwegian scene?
BST : There are very few Norwegian bands that I still find interesting nowadays, to be honest. As far as black metal goes, I’m more into the Swedish, Finish, and French underground scenes. Bands like Deathspell Omega, Watain, Funeral mist, Arkhon Infaustus, Hell Militia….
BD: Bands such as Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir in particular have done a lot to bring black/death metal to more mainstream audiences – would you see this as a positive or negative thing?
BST : I don’ see it as negative or positive. I don’t really mind. It made the whole scene change, but the genuine bands still are here for those who want to find them, and the more accessible and softer bands reach another audience. I don’t see that as something necessarily bad. What other people listen to does not really matter to me to be honest, it won’t really change the way I write music, as it is based on what I like and nothing else.
BD: What bands influence Order of Apollyon?
BST : SLAYER, MORBID ANGEL, BEHEMOTH, MARDUK, DEATHSPELL OMEGA, IMMORTAL, DISSECTION… And many more…
BD: When can we expect live shows from Order of Apollyon?
BST : We’re looking for gigs right now, so anyone interested can get in touch on myspace.com/templeofapollyon . We’ll be playing our first show at this summer’s Metalcamp in Slovenia, on Jully the 5th.
BD: What do you hope for the future?
BST: To keep a stable line-up, play shows, reach a wide audience, and influence them spiritually, eventually have the power to harm our enemies through art. Judgement is upon us, True servants will be rewarded.
..And with those words BST is gone, leaving us with the album to work through. Opening with a suitably moody intro track, ‘God Speaks’, Order of Apollyon don’t mess around with the symphonic elements of Cradle of Filth or Dimmu Borgir, instead beating out a martial rhythm of intent that builds to a crescendo with guttural screams and feedback trailing into first song proper ‘Ich bin das licht’ which is a storming mix of brutal drumming, mid-tempo chugging guitars (which sit closest to ‘Zos Kia Kultus’ era Behemoth) and harsh vocals extolling unseen masses to rise up. It’s an ambitious opening which highlights the level of experience that these musicians have attained with their former outfits and the welcome change of tempo in the bridge shows that this is the work of dedicated professionals. ‘Word’ simply roars out of the speakers, all blast beats and raging vocals; it’s an evil, icy blast of atmospheric music that absolutely slays all in its path. ‘Never’ is a perfectly contrasting companion piece to ‘word’ which has a vicious groove to it, coupled with a perfectly executed stop-start riff which gives way to a flood of noise in the chorus. Like the preceding tracks it’s all about atmosphere, and this is something Order of Apollyon can conjure in spades, as well as an almighty metal sound which will have acolytes banging their heads in the pit when this lot arrive on our shores for live shows. The aptly titled ‘Fifth’ is another raging slab of noise, but thanks to the perfect production job it packs a weighty punch rather than disappearing in a swirl of treble. It also has a great solo on the bridge that suggests a leaning in the direction of more straightforward metal amongst all the tight and brutal riffing.
‘White dust’ is a great chance for Daniel Wilding to show off his drumming skills as it progresses at full tilt, with all manner of tasty fills separating Order of Apollyon from beginner outfits. ‘Four beasts’ is a complex and disturbing number, as BST rages over a primal slab of blackened death metal. ‘Flesh of YHVH’ is darker still, a striking combination of razor-sharp guitars, hellish vocals and tight drums all coming together with a riff that Pantera would have been proud to call their own…and this is where the real skill of Order of Apollyon lies. Their music is, as BST stated, heavy black death metal, but every so often they hit you with a moment which is both accessible and so jaw droppingly good that you’ll want to play it to your friends just to prove you didn’t imagine the whole thing. ‘Ex-Voto’ is a disturbingly atmospheric piece which leads us to the final track ‘L’orgueil’ which opens with a slow, melodic reminder of the awesome talent that lies at the black heart of this passionate and exciting new band before exploding for one last menacing bout of brutal, yet memorable black metal.
In a crowded world of extreme metal, The Order of Apollyon are truly something to get excited about. Passionate, intelligent and extremely capable musicians, they have all the vital ingredients to go on to great things and if this debut album is anything to go by then their future is assured. Fiery, original and with a production to die for, this is a brutal and inspiring album that will bear repeated spins offering up new elements on each occasion. It is time to join the Order – this is a band who will only get better with time. Highly, highly recommended.