DENIAL OF GOD - The Hallow Mass (CD)
By now, DENIAL OF GOD should need little introduction. Since that fateful year of 1991, the brothers Azter and Ustumallagam have perfected an idiosyncratic style of black metal that's positively drenched in the supernatural and remains firm in their conviction of more classicist-styled songwriting. In fact, "black metal" might even be a misnomer; rather, BLACK HORROR METAL would be more accurate.
This past June, DENIAL OF GOD - utilizing the same lineup that's been firm since 2005, with Azter and Ustumallagam joined by Galheim - released the critically acclaimed The Shapeless Mass EP, which served as a special teaser for the full-length The Hallow Mass. With that EP's title track intended as a springboard for LP#3's themes and aesthetics, DENIAL OF GOD proceed to return in grand, GRAND form with The Hallow Mass, reminding those legions just why their brand of Black Horror Metal is so special whilst uncovering new, undead ground.
Recorded once again at Berno Studio, where the previous two albums and several EPs were recorded, The Hallow Mass is indeed a MASSIVE experience, comprising seven epic-length tracks in an incredibly visual 63 minutes - or put more accurately, six central songs and one intermezzo, underlining DENIAL OF GOD's undeniably cinematic approach to metal. Indeed, within that cinematic experience lays the band's most varied and diverse album to date, and boldly do they begin with the 15-minute sorta-title track "Hallowmas," which includes a compelling middle section consisting solely of keyboards - even more bold for DENIAL OF GOD, as they generally end their albums with the longest track. Nevertheless, The Hallow Massends on a high note with the straightforward-yet-twisted "The Transylvanian Dream," and in between those two tracks do the trio somewhat subvert their trademark melancholy: more aggressive overall than, say, the solemn Death and the Beyond, but dive deeper into the material and discover that same strong sense of melancholy, built upon their characteristic horror aesthetic and theatrical performance. Of course, backed by outstanding drumming from Galheim, frontman Ustumallagam gives another commanding performance which further underlines DENIAL OF GOD's ever-unique nature: raw, blackened vocals that never become senseless screaming, but which actually make the lyrics relatively easy to understand and penetrate the listener's consciousness.
Topped off by stunningly atmospheric full-gatefold artwork by Markus Vesper, who delivered the unforgettable art for Death and the Beyond, DENIAL OF GOD's The Hallow Mass is the timely return of true BLACK HORROR METAL!