Norma Evangelium Diaboli
Company: Norma Evangelium Diaboli
It stands as a grotesque work
Germany's Katharsis have been unleashing their long-play assaults in triennial fashion since the release of their initial LP ("666") in 2000, so it comes as no surprise that 2009 would mark the release of a new effort fittingly entitled "Fourth Reich". Although this album fits their triennial tradition, it marks a new chapter in the numerological aspect of the band. Unlike the first three records, this album contains merely five tracks as opposed to the typical six. My only guess would be to leave the "unholy" repdigit of the initial trifecta unspoiled.
Immediately, fans and listeners of the band's previous efforts will notice a very subtle change stylistically in the overall approach of the album. Although much of it is left intact, there is indeed a slight detraction in the volatility exposed prior, particularly when compared to 2006's almost grandiosely violent "VVorld VVithout End." Rather, "Fourth Reich" contains many more (and more extended) contrasting moments between its breakneck delivery and mid-paced riffage.
The songs and riffs are somewhat slower than previous. That said, a half-notch below brutally insane is hardly of consequence and this album is still very much alive and unyielding. The scale of dissonance and raw execution are monolithic and undeniable. Similar to the situation with other Katharsis records, it is only after repeated listens that the album is really able to truly shine and infect. My initial reaction was that this album was comparably weaker to WWE, however with due gestation it stands as a grotesque work of orthodox malign laudable in its own right.
Track by track, the work is rather fluid and uniform. However, the shiner for me was really the first song "So Nail The Hearts". I don't know why, but the mid-paced riff that carries much of the song just slays me, and for this reason I find myself out-playing side A over B. Not that side B is particularly weak, as I said the whole album is really a uniform work that flows entirely well. Indeed, there are no individually weak tracks (one should hope, with only five songs), but this one particular movement gets me most.
All in all, "Fourth Reich" is truly an excellent display and should easily find itself on top lists by the end-year. It may require a bit of seepage for some, and it will certainly not change lives or move mountains, but it is indeed a rewarding experience for fans of the genre.