Artist: Lord Belial

Album Title: Rapture

Label: Hammerheart Records

Date of Release: 27 May 2022

Regrettably, this release ghosted past my radar initially during a busy period, so I was unable to get a review completed before its release. However, for a number of reasons, I had to write a review, even if it means that it comes to fruition a week or more after it’s release. The biggest, and most important of all the reasons is simply that this is the first full-length release from the stalwarts of the black metal scene since 2008. Dogged by health problems for drummer Micke Backelin, the band called it quits in early 2009, soon after the release of 2008’s ‘The Black Curse’, their eighth album. Lord Belial reformed, only to call it a day again in 2015 for health problems once again. It’s something of a pleasant surprise therefore to have them return in 2022 with their ninth album, ‘Rapture’.

The other very important reason for bringing this review is because the resultant creation is very impressive. Some might argue that this should be the most important reason, but without a band being together, all else is moot, because music cannot be created if there’s no band in the first place. Regardless, the fact remains that Lord Belial are back, and they are back with a real bang. Drummer Micke Backelin is joined by guitarist Niclas Pepa Green, and vocalist/guitarist Thomas Backelin, meaning that the key core trio are responsible for this impressive return.

Within seconds, it is absolutely evident that the trio have not lost an ounce of their energy, hunger, or menace. But, over the course of the 50-minute album, the Swedish trio demonstrate that, as venomous as they are, they have far more in their locker than just out-and-out aggressive malevolence. In fact, I’m going to say this now – this is up there with the very best black metal I’ve heard in quite a while. It has, for my tastes, an almost perfect blend of evil savagery, melody, and variety, making it rather hard to remove from my playlist.

‘Legion’, the opening salvo, is anything but subtle though, as it rips through the speakers with thunderous blastbeats, sharp and incisive fast-picked riffs, and Backelins spiteful, hate-fuelled dry rasping growls. It’s a full-on battery of unrelenting blackened power from the trio, spiced with the occasional wailing, spiralling lead break and slightly slower, almost groovy moments. But, for the most part, this is a monstrously extreme signalling of intent that I’ve grown to really enjoy.

If I had a very small gripe at all, it’d be the prominence of the snare drum in the mix. We’re not talking ‘St Anger’ levels of hideousness, but as ‘On A Throne Of Souls’ continues the onslaught of the opener, the loud snare does threaten my overall enjoyment just a little. It’s pretty much the only negative, but for the sake of transparency, it needed to be referenced. Otherwise, this song demonstrates the variety of ‘Rapture’ brilliantly. Fast, atmospheric, and melodic, it has it all. Choral vocals and well-placed synths inject added darkness, whilst the changes in pace keep the song interesting. And the final two minutes are fabulous, injecting some epic melody into the composition, showing the first signs that Lord Belial can temper their anger when required.

If you want a straight-up blast of black metal aggression, but with plenty of atmosphere and a hypnotic, rhythmic quality, ‘Rapture Of Belial’ is the song for you. It is properly sinister too, thanks to some cold tremolo leads and the introduction of haunting acoustic guitar notes alongside a stomping, march-like rhythm at times, especially within what passes as the chorus of the song.

As its name suggests, ‘Destruction’ is a shorter track that goes on the attack from the first second to the last, ending with some thrash-like wailing lead guitars. ‘Belie All Gods’ follows, and it noticeably lowers the pace to inject greater atmosphere and a sense of foreboding. We even get moments when nothing but the synths are present, as well as some heavily effect-laden spoken word embellishments. It happens to be a personal favourite too, because I just love the juxtaposition between the heaviness and the more subtle yet equally dark sections, not to mention the melodies that emerge as the song advances.

If anything, as the album advances, the music gets more and more melodic, with several of the songs delivering something truly memorable within them. In the case of ‘Evil Incarnate’, it’s the mid-tempo groovy to begin with, coupled with a gorgeous closing segment that’s dominated by a melodic lead guitar that adds a touch of memorable elegance to an already excellent song. For ‘Lux Luciferi’, it’s the lashings of Gothic-like synths alongside gently tinkling guitars and choral vocals that intersperse more extreme, fast-paced black metal aggression to great effect.

But, for me, the last two tracks, ‘Alpha and Omega’ followed by ‘Lamentations’ are two of the best, closing the record incredibly strongly. The former is melodic from the beginning, a sombre yet gloriously majestic composition that retains the bite of earlier tracks but isn’t afraid to go all out with a certain harrowing beauty. The pace is generally slower, with the wailing leads more poignant and less out of control, almost soulful if you can imagine such a thing. Blastbeats remain, as do the staccato riffs, but there’s more room for palpable emotion, as Lord Belial deliver their contender for one of the songs of the year.

The latter is ostensibly an instrumental, with a few moments of spoken word added for good measure. It is well named too, as it feels like a solemn lament; cold and intimidating yet warm and elegant at the same time. Again, as with the former, the melodies are arresting, especially when a greater orchestral element is introduced after the halfway mark, leading to a thoroughly rousing and suitably powerful ending to the album. It may have taken 14 years to see the light of day but as far as I’m concerned, it has been more than worth the wait. I absolutely love this album and, if quality black metal is a favourite of yours, then you will too. Without doubt, with ‘Rapture’, Lord Belial have released my favourite out-and-out black metal record of the year so far.

The Score of Much Metal: 94%

Check out my other 2022 reviews here:

Buried Realm – Buried Realm

Stiriah – …Of Light

Remains Of Destruction – New Dawn

Crematory – Inglorious Darkness

IATT – Magnum Opus

Iris Divine – Mercurial

Decapitated – Cancer Culture

Bekmørk – The Path Nocturnal

Septic Flesh – Modern Primitive

Blut Aus Nord – Disharmonium – Undreamable Abysses

Drift Into Black – Earthtorn

Spheric Universe Experience – Back Home

Outshine – The Awakening

Cosmic Putrefaction – Crepuscular Dirge For The Blessed Ones

Zero Hour – Agenda 21

Scitalis – Doomed Before Time

Morgue Supplier – Inevitability

Visions Of Atlantis – Pirates

Evergrey – A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)

OU – One

Haunter – Discarnate Ails

Aara – Triade II: Hemera

Pure Reason Revolution – Above Cirrus

Demonical – Mass Destroyer

I Am The Night – While The Gods Are Sleeping

Haunted By Silhouettes – No Man Isle

Delvoid – Swarmlife

LionSoul – A Pledge To Darkness

Watain – The Agony And Ecstasy Of Watain

Dischordia – Triptych

Dragonbreed – Necrohedron

Audrey Horne – Devil’s Bell

Vanum – Legend

Stone Broken – Revelation

Radiant – Written By Life

Skull Fist – Paid In Full

Hurakan – Via Aeturna

Incandescence – Le Coeur De L’Homme

Imminent Sonic Destruction – The Sun Will Always Set

Monuments – In Stasis

Soledad – XIII

Viande – L’abime dévore les âmes

Credic – Vermillion Oceans

Postcards From New Zealand – Burn, Witch, Burn

Darkher – The Buried Storm

Treat – The Endgame

Bjørn Riis – Everything To Everyone

Destruction – Diabolical

Et Moriemur – Tamashii No Yama

Angel Nation – Antares

Wolf – Shadowland

Denali – Denali EP

Centinex – The Pestilence EP

Meshuggah – Immutable

Chapter Of Hate – Bloodsoaked Decadence EP

Ancient Settlers – Our Last Eclipse

Tranzat – Ouh La La

Playgrounded – The Death Of Death

Father Befouled – Crowned In Veneficum

Abbath – Dread Reaver

PreHistoric Animals – The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter 2)

Kvaen – The Great Below

Michael Romeo – War Of The Worlds, Part 2

Dark Funeral – We Are The Apocalypse

Carmeria – Advenae

Agathodaimon – The Seven

Moonlight Haze – Animus

Hellbore – Panopticon

Konvent – Call Down The Sun

Idol Of Fear – Trespasser

The Midgard Project – The Great Divide

Threads Of Fate – The Cold Embrace Of The Light

Arkaik – Labyrinth Of Hungry Ghosts

New Horizon – Gate Of The Gods

Cailleach Calling – Dreams Of Fragmentation

Tundra – A Darkening Sky

Sylvaine – Nova

Hath – All That Was Promised

Sabaton – The War To End All Wars

Kuolemanlaakso – Kuusumu

Oh Hiroshima – Myriad

Godless Truth – Godless Truth

Shape Of Despair – Return To The Void

Eight Bells – Legacy Of Ruin

Embryonic Devourment – Heresy Of The Highest Order

Serious Black – Vengeance Is Mine

Allegaeon – Damnum

HammerFall – Hammer Of Dawn

Immolation – Acts Of God

Veonity – Elements Of Power

Nightrage – Abyss Rising

Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s Star One – Revel In Time

Pure Wrath – Hymn To The Woeful Hearts

Dagoba – By Night

The Last Of Lucy – Moksha

Arð – Take Up My Bones

Embryonic Autopsy – Prophecies Of The Conjoined

The Devils Of Loudun – Escaping Eternity

Cult Of Luna – The Long Road North

WAIT – The End Of Noise

Abysmal Dawn – Nightmare Frontier

Amorphis – Halo

Nordic Giants – Sybiosis

Persefone – Metanoia

Vorga – Striving Toward Oblivion

Mystic Circle – Mystic Circle

Nasson – Scars

Burned In Effigy – Rex Mortem

Silent Skies – Nectar

Celeste – Assassine(s)

Abyssus – Death Revival

SOM – The Shape Of Everything

Ashes Of Ares – Emperors And Fools

Beriedir – AQVA

Lalu – Paint The Sky

Nocturna – Daughters Of The Night

Battle Beast – Circus Of Doom

Lee McKinney – In The Light Of Knowledge

Descent – Order Of Chaos

Aethereus – Leiden

Toundra – Hex

Ilium – Quantum Evolution Event EP

Power Paladin – With The Magic Of Windfyre Steel

Necrophagous – In Chaos Ascend

Infected Rain – Ecdysis

Wilderun – Epigone

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2021 reviews

2020 reviews

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews


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