Black, death, and thrash are deftly intertwined on the crushing debut from full length from Azmaveth. Hailing from Puerto Rico, Azmaveth delivers a more unique style than most, relying on harsh black metal melodies and blinding drumming, chunky death and thrash-influenced riffing, and a flavor of flamenco and classical guitar harkening back to their deep Hispanic roots. What results is a carefully crafted album that succeeds in building up, ripping the listener’s head off, calming down in a soothing manner, only to return to more crushing rhythms. Azmaveth is definitely extreme metal, but the true classification stops there, as the band is not easily pigeon-holed. “Strong As Death” is sure to delight fans of extreme metal, death metal, black metal, thrash, and those who like their metal harsh and unpredictable.
From the label that brought you the excellent Lo-Ruhamah comes another Christian black metal release, this way on the form of Puerto Rico’s Azmaveth (named after one of King David’s strongest warriors) and their symphonic, challenging take on black metal.
Christian black metal from Puerto Rico? Yeah, I know, but amid the glut of symphonic black metal I’ve received of late (Abigail Williams, Sothis, Algalzahanth,etc), this actually might be the biggest surprise of the bunch. Of the 13 tracks, 6 are some sort of brief, 30 second or so, throwaway interlude or instrumental track, leaving 7 ‘real’ tracks and these tracks remind me a little of Stormlord as a base point with their bombastic epic throes and mix of black metal shrieks and deep death metal bellows. However, the music never seems to be content and deliver track after track of the same pace and structure as Azmaveth are intent on giving symphonic black metal several of their own injections.
Each track has its own character and delivery, so rather than 7 tracks of blistering, key laced bombastics you get the say the typical symphonic black metal blast and tinkle of “A Mortal way of Life”, and “The Dark Lust of the Rotten Soul”, the more angular death metal lurch of “A Cadaveristic Desire of the Human Perverse Condition”, rock and roll with synths start and clean (albeit weak) vocals of “Stigma From Hell” (with a pretty nice ending solo), and rollicking “Crawling From the Grave”. Azmaveth are everything but a predictable Dimmu Borgir wannabe, though they have their moments like “Master of Light” and last few moments of standout, the aforementioned “The Dark Lust of the Rotten Soul”. The synths themselves are fairly standard, but within the framework of the songs work, but the rather disruptive interludes are either quirky acoustic/flamenco numbers or spooky black metal FX. I would have liked for these rather frequent moments to be as varied and competent as the actual songs, but I can’t have everything I guess.
I’m sure this album will get the usual “Christianity doesn’t belong in black metal” debate, a debate I really don’t care about, but either way while not as impressive as Lo-Ruhamah, Azmaveth have delivered a slightly different and competent symphonic black metal album, regardless of religious beliefs.