My knowledge of South American bands is mostly limited
to the likes of Sarcofago, Sepultura, Vulcano, Holocausto, Pentagram, Masacre, Parabellum and so on. Beyond the mid-to-late
80s, I've never really found anything that impressed me. It was only very recently that someone turned me on to this heretofore
undiscovered classic, the 1993 debut full-length from the Peruvian black/death metal band, Hadez.
succeeds where so very many bands have failed, which is difficult to comprehend as one would imagine this is the main point
of any black or death metal band: creating an atmosphere of incomprehensible darkness and purest evil. Hadez manages to engulf
the listener deep within an abyss of torment and infinite obscurity. From the horror theme that opens the album, which then
becomes the main riff of "Human Extinction", a gloomy and demonic sound bleeds from the speakers. This album is just dripping
with unrelenting evil. During some of the mid-paced sections, with the deeper vocals, I am reminded of Beherit's Drawing
Down the Moon, which is not surprising as both bands likely had some of the same influences. However, Hadez has the added
element of these absolutely tortured and desperate screams that help to give the record a truly hellish feeling. This contrast
in voices conjures images of wretched, damned soul being tormented by the Infernal One, himself.
The biggest musical
inspiration for Hadez seems to have been Sarcofago, as Aquelarre truly sounds like the successor to INRI, at
times. Songs like "Nightmare" and "Christ's Death", in particular, come to mind. The songs utilize varied tempos, never becoming
too monotonous and, while there are plenty of fast and chaotic riffs to be found here, the slower passages are often where
the band really shines and manages to create a dark atmosphere. For example, a song like "Drunk with the Saint's Blood" just
oozes undeniable malevolence, which is mostly the result of the slower, creeping riffs and the vocals that are possessed with
blackest suffering. The eerie lead solo is a brilliant addition to this, as well. All of the aforementioned components, along
with the intros, outros and sparse horror samples, come together perfectly to maintain a truly sinister aura.
As I am newly acquainted
with this band, I cannot say for sure, but I get the impression that Aquelarre is not nearly as well-known as it should
be. I can hardly believe that it has taken so many years for me to become aware of its existence, yet I'm always somewhat
grateful that there are still hidden gems to be unearthed. Fans of Sarcofago, Beherit, Archgoat, etc. Should make haste in
giving this a listen. In fact, anyone with an appreciation for truly dark black/death metal needs to make this a priority.
There's no filler, no downside, pretty much not a single negative thing to say about this. That said, it's not for the weak.
There is nothing pretty about this album. With this recording, Hadez created something abysmal and hellish and this is absolutely
recommended. Seek this out and listen to it immediately!
(4 Feb. 2018)