Various Artists

Apocalypse: Livre 66 Chapitre Premier

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As label samplers go, Season of Mist's Apocalypse: Livre 66 Chapitre Premier fares better than most, thanks to a vast array of metallic styles representing a virtual United Nations over the course of its 17 tracks. Offering something for most any sort of metal-head, the disc opens at full-strength with the Arabic-flavored, female-fronted Franco-goth-metal of Penumbra, moves forward through the melodic death metal of Belgium's absurdly named Old Dead Tree and avant-garde, barely-metal Norwegian acts Crest and Green Carnation, courses right into gothic hard rock (Germany's My Insanity), death (Finland's Dawn of Relic) and black metal (Australia's Blood Duster, Norway's Mezzerschmitt and Carpathian Forest), and arguably culminates with Chicago's serial killer hobbyists extraordinaire, Macabre. Hardly dropping the ball, Pittsburgh natives Council of the Fallen reignite the black metal furnaces in time for a welcome submission from original Norwegian masters Mayhem, after which we streak to the finish via Canadians E-Force (excellent death-sung trad-metal), Norwegians (yes, more of them, and again black metal) Nattefrost, Japanese Defiled (crusty death metal), and, waving us goodbye with a smile and a switchblade, yet another brilliantly hilarious entry from Macabre's country/campfire side-project Macabre Minstrels -- needs be heard to be believed. In sum, a fittingly diverse commemoration of Seasons of Mist's five years of activity.

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