Album Title: The Sixth Hour
Label: Candlelight Records
Date of Release: 24 January 2020
Occasionally, a little unrepentant aggression and brutality is necessary. Normally I want more finesse and subtlety, not to mention melody, to my heavy metal. But sometimes, just occasionally, I can find myself in the headspace where I want to have my head battered by something heavy and uncompromising. And when I’m in that kind of mood, then an album like this is ideal.
‘The Sixth Hour’ is the third studio release from an Italian quartet called Blasphemer. Their previous couple of records were released via Coimatose Music and, if I’m honest, I’d never heard of the band until a couple of weeks ago. The fact that they find themselves now signed to Candlelight Records means that they must be pretty decent and so, upon receipt of the promo, I took the decision to check them out.
The band name and the graphic cover artwork for ‘The Sixth Hour’ will immediately leave you in no doubt that Blasphemer are not the band to play for your God-fearing Grandmother. To be more precise, the subject matter explored on ‘The Sixth Hour’ by lead vocalist/bassist Clod “The Ripper” De Rosa, guitarists/backing vocalists Simone Brigo and Nicolò Brambilla, and drummer Davide Cazziol deals with the last walk that Jesus took before being crucified and pulls literally no punches.
Stylistically, Blasphemer tread the path known loosely as blackened death metal. However, it would be easier to say that the twelve tracks on ‘The Sixth Path’, aside from an occasional acoustic interlude (‘Blessed Are The Wombs That Never Bore’), deliver an all-out attack on the senses, full of intensity and dark anger. If you listen carefully, there is a touch of subtlety to be heard, but for the most part, the quartet are not interested in finesse; they are angry and on a mission to destroy everything in their path. Or at least that’s how it feels when listening to this record.
Vocalist De Rosa is a new addition to Blasphemer and he brings with him a really deep, guttural approach to ‘singing’ – at times, he can barely be heard above the tumult, partly because he seems to be trying his best to duel with his own bass to see which one can deliver the lowest sound. And believe me, with a bass that rumbles with such subterranean menace, it’s impressive that De Rosa gets as close as he does.
As you might expect with music of this type, the drumming from Cazziol is relentless, laying down fast-paced blast beats and lightning fills at every turn, giving the music that breathless intensity and claustrophobic feel that is the hallmark of quality extreme metal of this type.
Alongside the rhythm section and the vocals sit the two guitarists Brigo and Brambilla, who both add another dimension to the brutality. From buzzsaw staccato riffing, to demonic, haunting leads, they inject more brutality whilst also spewing forth the kind of twisted, possessed melodies that sound like they have emerged from hell itself. The melodic work however, is not what you’d find on a power metal record; it is buried within the maelstrom of sound, occasionally coming to the surface to frantically gasp for air. And when it does, it only adds to the overall malevolence of the music.
‘The Sixth Hour’ is best enjoyed as a single body of work but the opening track, ‘Let Him Be Crucified’ is a cracker, as is the ever-so-slightly more accessible ‘Lord Of Lies’ with its great lead guitar work in the centre of the composition. I also find favour with the title track which actually slows the pace down a little and in so doing, creates a behemoth of a churning, writhing and crushing music. But to be honest, there is quality all over the place here and the more you listen, the more you discover it, as you begin to decipher the music.
To keep my conclusion as to-the-point and succinct as the music, I’d simply reiterate the fact that when only uncompromising brutality will do, ‘The Sixth Hour’ by Italian blackened death metal band Blasphemer is definitely the place to start in 2020.
The Score of Much Metal: 88%
Check out my reviews from 2020 right here:
Deathwhite – Grave Image
Marko Hietala – Pyre Of The Black Heart
SWMM – Trail Of The Fallen
Into Pandemonium – Darkest Rise EP
Bonded – Rest In Violence
Serious Black – Suite 226
Darktribe – Voici L’Homme
Brothers Of Metal – Emblas Saga
A Life Divided – Echoes
Thoughts Factory – Elements
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: