Released: 2013, Crank Music Group
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Hailed as the premier band in the world of British Symphonic Black Metal, Hecate Enthroned have returned with their first release in nine years. VIRULENT RAPTURE is the first release to feature new vocalist Elliot Beaver (Aeternum, Phyrexia) and drummer Gareth Hardy. And what a good choice these two new members are, for VIRULENT RAPTURE will keep any keen black metal fan hooked from start to finish.
Opening track ‘Thrones of Shadow’ has an eerie start which will remind you of Emperor’s early releases before descending into the impressive maelstrom of well structured guitars and drums. Here, the vocals are reminiscent of Chris Barnes, plus the riffs made me think of Abigail Williams. ‘Unchained’ continues the brutal onslaught before the keys take over and you are left in a moment of tranquility. Hecate have certainly matured by being able to marry the brutality of classic death metal with symphonies you’d expect to hear from a neo-classical music group.
‘Plagued by Black Death’ has a very impressive piano introduction which will warm the hearts of any vampire film lovers. This track also begins the album’s feature of slow, spoken vocals which did make me think of Christopher Lee on more than one occasion. Keyboardist Pete White also showcases his wide range of musicianship by making the keys sound like a church organ. ‘Euphoria’ tops the band’s progression into death metal territory with structures similar to Amon Amarth and Enslaved.
And the track that told me this band were going to be around for years to come was the title track. It features a guest appearance from Sarah Jezebel Deva (Cradle of Filth, Therion) who adds a very good level of melancholy to the gothic attitude of ‘Virulent Rapture’. Her operatic vocals are beautifully married to the keys which will please any symphonic metal fan giving this record a listen.
‘Of Witchery and the Blood Moon’ showcases Gareth’s wide range of precision drumming which impressed me from the word go. If you’re a fan of technical death metal and classic extreme metal releases, then the drums will please you by how Gareth mixes technical blast beats with basic ones and still sound awesome. Finally, instrumental track ‘Immateria’ features an acoustic guitar showing how Hecate are a band who won’t shy away from the ever beckoning world of experimentation.
Overall, this album is what to look for if you want a band who have matured throughout their career. The ability to marry symphonic metal with riffs that will please fans of raw black metal, and vocals that’ll remind you of Johan Hegg and Ihsahn at times is astonishing to say the least. Probably the best symphonic record I’ve heard all year.
Review by Demitri Levantis