The Apostate

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Luciferion's much-delayed comeback album has been eight years in the making (no thanks to main man Michael Niklasson's demanding day job with top deathsters Dark Tranquillity), and with 2003's The Apostate, the cult death/black metal ensemble's long-suffering acolytes finally have something to sate their appetites -- for the most part anyway. The fact of the matter is that The Apostate only offers about 30 minutes of new material -- five tracks in all, unless you consider the six-part, nine-minute title track as something more. A cover of Celtic Frost's "Circle of the Tyrants" and five 1994 demo versions of songs later featured on their 1996 debut, Demonication, comprise the rest of this release, and while these certainly make it instantly collectible, it would have been nice to hear a little more new music after such a long wait -- especially given the superlative nature of what is contained here. Ambitiously assembled from eerily atmospheric keyboard lines, dissonant guitar drones, a wealth of spoken word sections, and (of course) lots and lots of extreme metal riffing, throat-ripping grunting, and blast-beat drumming, the aforementioned title track is a wonder to behold -- sucking the listener into a churning maelstrom of sonic abstraction and invention to rival the most esoteric black metal out there. The same can be said (in more measured but possibly even more effective doses) for its likeminded companions, "Become or Be Gone," "Destroying By Will," and "New World to See," all of which explode with guitars as sharp as daggers one minute, then abruptly switch gears into astoundingly melodic passages and highly musical harmony solos. A very challenging and rewarding album, even based on an EP's worth of new music, The Apostate comes through in the end.

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