How would you describe this record? Well, it consists of that all-too-familiar blend of speed/black/thrash that we all know and love. While bands tended to stray from this sound as it was tied to the juvenile and uninformed days of metal, today’s lack of innovation has led to a so-called diaspora whereby every deep dark corner of the genre has groups dedicated to a certain style. Take a trip back to the early days with Praise of Satan; a world full of poor production, screaming, and blasphemy.
There was something astonishingly-beautiful about the early eighties in pertinence to metal. Be it the youthful rebelliousness, the catatonic sonic creativity, or simply the excitement of belonging to a new movement, a special lightbulb somewhere within all of us ignites upon listening to proto speed/thrash/black/death bands. From Celtic Frost to Bathory, the knowledge of hindsight we carry today makes those early works all that much better. While Diabolic Force will inevitably be called-out by journalists and fans alike for being derivative and uninspired in terms of influences, their newfound sound on Praise of Satan manages to cultivate a fresh-feeling mix handcrafted by these Brazilian headbangers themselves.
Brazil and the other countries that make up South America date back to the early ‘80s in terms of their history within the evolution of metal. While Sepultura has undoubtedly amassed the greatest amount of fame, the whole early South American metal scene is worth writing a book on. From bands like Sarcófago to Mutilator, the continent is rich in blasphemy – to the point that one of Iron Maiden’s biggest shows took place there; the abundance of fans is incredible. Diabolic Force have cited these bands as a major influence on their newest release due to their unique sound timestamp and as they are hometown legends. Such influence bleeds from Praise of Satan, especially within the purposefully raw production.
The record opens with a cheesily-good sample consisting of a traditional “Our Father” prayer, except with an obvious swap-out with the heaven/hell section. Blasphemy! The echoed introduction also contains a call-and-response interaction between the presumed-priest and his followers who are partway through an unholy ritual. While certainly done before, such is the exact reasoning behind its inclusion. As mentioned above, while not serving as an homage to a particular group or style, one can easily name the influences of this record, especially in pertinence to the Brazilian group’s hometown heroes. So, the overdone and cheesy nature of such an introduction results in it being used less within modern metal, therefore rendering it fresh once more as a result of some sort of cosmic cycle. In other words, I love the sample; listen below.
Furthermore, Praise of Satan is a highly diverse record. Diabolic Force undoubtedly learned from the mistakes of their brethren (which are nonetheless justified by their primordial nature), and chose to vary their nine new tracks for the sake of the record as a whole. While groups like Venom and Bathory originally didn’t want to experiment with slowing down their music because speed was all the rage at the time, coming out with identical outputs over 35 years later would yield derivative efforts rendered boring following a handful of listens. Diabolic Force swiftly dodges this conundrum with an easy solution of speed variance within their output. While their styles don’t tend to mix that often, and you can lump the fast tracks and the slow tracks into two quite easily, there is a noticeable effort to keep the record sounding fresh and entertaining all the way through. “Satan’s Power” and “Doom Child” open up the release at a blazing speed, but “Cross in Fire” follows the duo with an out-of-field left hook delivered in accordance with a crawling, mean riff which sparks the listener’s realization that this won’t be your traditional one-speed speed/black/thrash album.
Although I previously praised the album for being a fresh-sounding melting pot of outside influence which thus results in something new, the riffs on the release tend to get somewhat repetitive towards the last couple of songs. The second last, “Rotting Lips”, features a very similar riff to the one repeated in Celtic Frost’s famous “Circle of the Tyrants” which, in accordance with the themes of the album and my article, worked fine within the release’s homage status. However, the following track and album-closer “Full Circle” features a dangerously similar riff to that which fell prior, which was already somewhat uninspired. Furthermore, “Full Circle” clocks in at just over seven minutes long, so the offending section tends to come back a lot (albeit progressively slower by the end of the song which manages to freshen up the vibe a bit). Nonetheless, such a repetition leaves a bit of a stale taste in my mouth.
Despite this peculiar insight, the Praise of Satan plays in a diverse, fresh, and enjoyable fashion all the way through. From Victor’s cutthroat black/thrash singing style, to the delightfully-varied pace of the record, Diabolic Force has set out to release a potential classic with this one. The production is also beautifully murky and unclear, which takes you back to those early Venom and Bathory records. While the mix isn’t particularly innovative and it sounds the same as every other album within the same vein, it is nonetheless masterfully crafted. For fans of the speed/black/thrash subgenre, Praise of Satan is a necessary addition to your collection.
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