The time has finally arrived and the long wait is over. In as much as I appreciate the successes of Leaves' Eyes of late, especially with the ability to witness Alex Krull, Thorsten Bauer, Joris Nijenhuis and Pete Streit in action live...my preference of bands has always been with Atrocity. In the storied history of the German death metal machine, Atrocity has presented both straight up death and bold, daring experimentation, all of it gleefully gobbled up by your author (seriously, the best cover EVER of Simple Minds' "Don't You (Forget About Me)"). Since coming full circle to the death metal roots with 2004's "Atlantis," the band has been a relentless assualt. 2013's "Okkult" was damn near album of the year and certainly one of the finest in the subgenre. Now five years later...we can finally hear the much anticipated "Okkult II."
One of the biggest differences between part I and II is that the band has nearly stripped down all of the symphonic elements and, much to the delight of this author, has relied heavily on the power of riffs. Fear not though, some of those symphonic elements are still present, but merely act as accents rather than an overpowering force, which is best depicted in the shredding "Bloodshed And Triumph," "All Men Must Die" and "Infernal Sabbath."
However, in most cases..."Okkult II" is a full on return to sheer brutality - best shown on songs like "Shadowtaker," "Spell of Blood" and and the absolute crusher "The Golden Dawn." And to be frank...thank fucking Satan, because metal is in dire need of a big flush and reset of symphonic metal and nothing dispels the staleness of unsustainable amounts of the same shit better than some straight up old school death metal. Atrocity brings it on like an old school Unleashed album - riff after riff, growl after growl - in your face with a big middle finger and an "L" on the forehead.
"Okkult II" features some guests - including the mighty Entombed overload LG Petrov on "Devil's Covenant" and his presence is felt with power. Rarely would anyone describe a death metal duet as "beautiful," but hearing Krull and Petrov trade barbs is something else. The other guest is Despair/ex-Morgoth vocalist Marc Grewe, who joins in with Krull on "Gates To Oblivion" - a deadly, more symphonic offering.
If there is one thing that defines "Okkult II" outside of Krull's voice (one of my absolute favorites in the death metal realm)...it is the onslaught of catchy riffs from Thorston Bauer and Pete Streit. When not erupting into the insanity of blast beats, it is impossible to listen to the riffs without seeking to destroy (I can literally feel my neck hurting from the day I hope to hear some of these songs live). The perfect representation (and there are many on the album) is in "Menschenschlachthaus," which also appeared on the "Masters of Darkness" precursor EP.
On "Okkult II," Atrocity strips it down even further to what really matters...the core of its death metal riffs, thus giving birth to the pure and familiar child of evil. The guitars are a feast for the ears and a overwhelming reminder of what makes metal, metal. Letting the riffs wash over you like purifying fire is the perfect bath, allowing authors like myself to reset and be able to take on the crap that fills the inbox on a weekly basis. The rotten air of death has never been so refreshing.
Label: Massacre Records
1. Masters Of Darkness 2. Shadowtaker 3. Bloodshed And Triumph 4. Spell Of Blood 5. Menschenschlachthaus 6. Gates To Oblivion (Feat. Marc Grewe) 7. Infernal Sabbath 8. All Men Must Die 9. Phantom Ghost 10. Devil's Covenant (Feat. LG Petrov) 11. The Golden Dawn