Blood Libels reviews
Raxz on March 20th, 2016
What black metal should have been.
If death metal is everything that makes metal good not only exemplified, but taken to its logical extreme, then black metal is the pushback against that idea. It's someone saying "No, that's trendy." And thus the solution was to make something that's the opposite of death metal while still being extreme. Replace heavy riffs with screechy tremolo picked ones, replace amazing complex song structures with "hypnotic" repetition, replace massive, gruesome production styles with thin, wispy ones, replace brutality with "atmosphere," and you have (stereotypical) black metal. More or less.
But Antaeus takes the genre into a direction I actually strongly approve of. This album retains a lot of the characteristics that I just complained about, but makes up for it in an amazing way by being rightly pissed off sounding. While most (though not all) black metal leaves me disconcerted with the lack of frequencies being played in favor of just the most obnoxious ones, this is one of the bands that manages not only to actually have something going on on the low end other than kick drums, but fills in the mid and high ends as well, making for a very "full" and heavy sound overall while still being somewhat raw. The drums blast nearly constantly, but not in the slow "background noise" kind of way, rather, it sounds like the drummer could have been in a grindcore or death metal band. Oh wait. He is in one, probably not a coincidence. The vocals are a bit interesting as well; they're some of the lowest vocals I've heard that are done with a distinctly black metal styling, and it sounds awesome. Other times, he goes into an impressively high screech like at the end of Cyklik Torture and the middle of Control and Abuse.
The album starts off with some synthesized... stuff, but it doesn't overstay its welcome and is soon replaced with heavy riffing amidst an unrelenting wall of noise. And even when it finally does relent, you don't feel safe. For example, the freaky middle section of Control and Abuse builds up amazingly to its outro, where the discordant leads continue among the riffage, continuing until it goes into one of the only fade-outs in music history that actually makes sense. And almost every song has something interesting like this going for it, preventing the album from getting boring or tiring by the end.
If you're a fan of extreme music but don't like black metal or most black metal, I recommend giving this or any of Antaeus' albums a chance anyway. It's really something else.
Daemonlord on July 4th, 2011
bitter, sick, vile and angry
Since forming in 1994, Antaeus have been kicking out some of the filthiest, sickest black metal to ever (dis)grace the ears of the metallers world-wide. This was a long awaiting release for me, as in my book, the name Antaeus is synonymous with sheer quality thanks to their past two albums blowing me away in the best way possible. Also, being suitably enamored with the taster track off their split vinyl with Malicious Secrets, I was left ravenous for more. However, nothing could prepare me for what I was to expect after putting this harmless looking CD into my stereo…
Starting with a slow building electronic introduction (similar to that infecting many a Red Harvest album), you're sitting there, waiting for the climatic first riff to erupt. But when it does - FUCK ME! It seriously takes your head off like a flying piece of sheet glass – Omen style. Never before have the band managed to capture such rage, such raw energetic aggression to disc. The entire album exudes pure, untamed hostility throughout the majority of its near three quarter of an hour run time, with guitars tearing like chainsaws through your gray matter, pounding bass (yes, this is no 'bass-less wonder' black metal album - turn up the sub-woofers on your stereo for the opening bomb blast at your own peril), and belligerently hammering drums turning bones to dust. All of this comes equipped with the sticky film-like vocal-work of the tormented MkM, who judging by this album, has become more mentally unstable than ever before, spraying lyrical excretion with each and every heaving exhalation. The aforementioned tomblike, bile filled vocals really top off what is an exceptionally disturbing piece of work, which for me, helps to add that extra dimension to the music, which many could (unjustifiably in my opinion) accuse of being just that little too relentless for many tastes, especially in the inexorable drumming department (just listen to some of the inhuman speeds reached on 'Colliding in Ashes' for example). The final track of the album is the title track, which strays from the rest of the album in the form of an entirely electronic track (not too far from the opening gambit in fact). It's not particularly a highlight of the album, but helps to calm traumatized nerves after the aural beating they've just received.
In conclusion, repeated listens will undoubtedly reap the greatest rewards, but this album willingly gives you the key to a sick mind, and taunts you remorselessly until you use it…
Originally written for www.metalcrypt.com
marktheviktor on March 20th, 2010
Pardon my French but this is pretty krieg!
Be sure to put this album among those that rightly earn the adjective of 'raw' before black metal for Blood Libels by Antaeus sounds like a cutting that just might take your life. If you like Katharsis(GER) then this album is more of the bloodletting your eardrums crave. Actually, I have spinned this record in tandem a lot with VVorldVVithoutEnd and while it's almost too close to call which of the two similar styled albums I like better, I think I have to go with Blood Libels.
What I appreciate most about this record is that it's clearly a black metal that is influenced by albums like Nightwing and Hellfire yet it actually succeeds at sounding better (and harsher) than either Marduk or 1349. I might also add that if you love Under the Sign of Hell by Gorgoroth, this is also another reason to recommend Blood Libels. You'll know what I mean by that one when you hear its slightly industrial tinged moments of ambiance between each song.
Allow me to go into a little further detail about the raw element found here. To not consider Blood Libels "raw" is well..libelous! And this is coming from me who doesn't even really believe in the description. But when hearing the ferocious and overbearing chaos of super fast base riffs fused against demonic blast beats, I am certainly open to the possibility that such an album as this can be deemed raw black metal. When I heard the pure power chord solo on Control and Abuse, I knew I was in good hands with this sound. It sounded exactly how I thought raw should come across as: simple, crude, earsplitting and distorted in speed and ruckus. This is some mean dungeon metal. When you really get down to it, all this taken as a whole sounds like super stripped down death metal. The vocals certainly can be heard that way. They're mostly of the screetchy gutteral kind.
There's no fancy or contrived atmosphere as can be the case with many bands. Even the arcane rough vocals give the impression a dragged out sense of agony is here. They contain a fluid and consistent sense of echoing like an execution in the catacombs. There's wave upon wave of riff uniformity in the style that Euronymous trademarked in De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. The track I noticed this most was in Colliding in Ashes. And when that song concluded with a stringent drowning death, Words As Weapons wasted no time continuing the barbarism with its percussive depiction of a grim inquisition and the rust laden epic-ness of the riffs. What the album authentically accomplishes with all this incessant beating and blasting is the auditory depiction that you are being lashed. As one track ends, it only gives you a seconds breath until you feel the scourge and persecution as the next one resumes with yet another lashing of that whip.
From my experience, when it came to the pandas that were the Scandinavian black metallers we all had an affection for, most of them were just that: Rare. Isolated. Awesome but near threatened or close to extinction now. And then in comparison, French black metal bands are Pepé Le Pew: Annoying, desperately crave love and attention but worst of all, they stunk. Not so for this Francophone black metal band. So yes, there are always exceptions. With their previous album to this also being very good, Antaeus has upped the ante here. More good raw black metal, s'il vous plaît!
blackmetalflower on October 2nd, 2008
A very brutal bout of 'Blood Libels' indeed...
A blood libel is generally defined as a human sacrifice, most often carried out involving the removal of blood from the body in some sick and twisted manner. Antaeus truly brings their album's title to the forefront in this third full length of theirs, through their aggressive form of black metal and the usage of eerie and disturbing pieces of ambience.
Really though, this album sounds like an intense human sacrifice. It' not like it's done in a humanitarian, nice little way, it's like the scene in Temple of Doom when the priest guy rips that guy's heart out. What I'm trying to say is that it's a pretty extreme dosage of slaughter. This album really seems to have a more brutal sort of feel to it compared to most black metal. The production on this album is quite nicely mixed, it's not a very 'kvlt' sound at all. Everything comes across very cleanly, and as result, the inherent aggression within the music music is not masked by a more raw production.
Generally, the purpose of a raw production is to create atmosphere. Though some of the 'evil' sort of vibe given off by raw black metal is compromised, the new production really gives it a sort of 'brutal' black metal sound all it's own. The thing that really stands out to me is the drums. The superior sounding drums on this album add to the aggression theme that Antaeus seem to be going for. The ambience is maintained however, through eerie sound clips. As far as I am concerned, using samples often sound out of place and detract from the music. The noises heard on this release seem to meld with the album, and I wouldn't doubt that the band themselves recorded these noises. The ambience closes the album, with strange guitar parts interlocking with demonic vocals.
Antaeus seem to create their own breed of aggressive and raw black metal in this release. It is nothing incredibly ground breaking, per se, or anything incredibly classic, but 'Blood Libels' is a damn good album. Definitely a worthy listen.
NausikaDalazBlindaz on February 4th, 2007
Solid work from Antaeus
As with their previous full-length album "De Principii Evangelikum", Antaeus deliver a solid work: their style is is fast, intense, beefy in sound and aggressive with machine-gun drumming, a huge bank of guitars speeding and careening like time's running out for the guys and they've got shitloads of music to get out to us, and those deep snarling vocals. The main difference here now is that the songs are longer with passages, usually at the beginning or at the end, where the hyper-fast rhythms stop altogether and are replaced by fairly quiet ambient or industrial effects. There seems to be more lead guitar in some tracks, not so much as in lead guitar soloing (there is only one song that could be said to have a lead guitar solo) but as in higher-pitched guitar tones over the rhythm guitar playing.
To those who don't know Antaeus, "Blood Libels" might sound like eight variations on one very long aggressive track but some songs do stand out: the first track has a long rumbling intro suggestive of a humming machine approaching from the distance before the band launches into attack mode. "Control and Abuse" includes a short section of lead guitar echoes and jet trails beneath which whispers can just be heard. Slow (!) passages of music with drum rolls appear in "Colliding in Ashes" which otherwise is as hellishly fast and unmelodic as the rest of the album save for those ambient / industrial bits. An all-percussion call to arms introduces "Word as Weapons" before the inevitable steamroller guitar barrage hits you again though "Word ..." turns out to be more complex than at first appears with rhythms changing throughout and an unusually quiet ending with the turning of a chain. A similar industrial passage appears on "Here is Punishment". The title track is perhaps the most memorable song here as there are strange high-pitched guitar tones floating above the rapid fire music, high-pitched keening voices and a very strange if fitting coda which is almost like an extra hidden track in which various multi-tracked demon voices recite the words of the Diamanda Galas song "Sono l'Anticristo" ("I am the Anti-Christ"). If that's not a freaky and memorable way to finish off an album, what more do you want - Antaeus's self-immolation?
The lyrics are an important aspect of Antaeus's music and they are printed in the CD sleeve although in a tiny font; they deal with religion as a force for social and psychological control, and the abuse and abasement, including self-abuse, that go with it. Some of the imagery in the lyrics is very intense and apocalyptic, in particular the lyrics to the first track.
It's probably a good thing that Antaeus albums aren't very long - "Blood Libels" runs for about 42 minutes - as the music can be exhausting to follow. Lack of catchy tunes doesn't make it easy for first-timers to follow the songs which can sound much the same when they're all close to Mach 1 speed but then Antaeus have never been bothered about appealing to a broad range of listeners. It is as if the musicians have been charged by a higher power with spreading a particular message in a certain way and they must do it no matter how difficult and confronting it is for them or how many people will bother to hear it.
LordBelketraya on October 3rd, 2006
Satanik Audio Violence indeed!
I was eagerly awaiting this cd all year. To me this was the release I wanted to get my hands on the most, more than the new Gorgoroth, Darkthrone and even Slayer. While most of those albums lived up to expectations, Blood Libels just surpassed mine entirely. I had heard album opener 'Rot' in the 'Everything Great Is Built Upon Sorrow... EP' and 'Gates To The Outside' on the 4-way split with Mutiilation, Deathspell Omega and Malicious Secrets. So I knew that at least 2 songs would totally rip shit up. They tend to limit the tracklisting on their albums to 8-9 songs. That idea is great because it's just right for a band as intense as Antaeus, they don't overstay their welcome.
This version of Rot is longer due to the 2 minute intro that actually works since it's just building up tension and excitement and them BAM!!!, the drums hit at you like machine gun bullets penetrating your ears instead. The trademark rapid fire, hyper fast, militant style drumming is back to my absolute content. Through the band's career they've gone through quite a few drummers, Storm, ZVN and now the new T. Thelemnar from the rather obscure Secrets Of The Moon. As long as the drums stay the same it doesn't really matter to me who's behind the kit. The "regulars" (Set, Servus and LSK) are back which is good since it gives the band a cohesive sound. But MkM is the true star of this album, he's clearly one of the most intense and raw vocalists in the genre today, he's in my top 5.
While the drumming is top notch with speed and the occasional drum fills during the breaks it's not on par with say the likes of Frost, Hellhammer or Trym. But black metal to me was never about technicality but more about mood, atmosphere and in the case of this album, ferocity and intensity. The production is clear but not over the top like something from Dimmu Borgir. 'Words As Weapons' has a slow beginning similar to a war march but oh does that change within a few seconds, the drums kick in like an alarm in the morning. Now fairweather fans or people from the outside the fanbase may hear repetititveness since the drums rarely change throughout the album and the guitars just shred away from start to finish, but the band made enough of a change to distinguish this from their previous albums. The result being their finest work, the album of 2006 and a new hardcore fan in me. This album totally fucking owns! Please don't ever change Antaeus.
Blood Libels track list
|3||Control and Abuse||05:34|
|4||Colliding in Ashes||05:10|
|5||Words as Weapons||06:27|
|6||Here Is Punishment||03:29|
|7||Gates to the Outside||03:27|
Blood Libels lineup
|LSK (R.I.P. 2013)||Bass|