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Review for 'Armagedda - Only True Believers'
Armagedda were one of Sweden's shorter lived and lesser known Black Metal bands, originally formed under the name Volkermord in 1999 before changing their name the following year. They released a total of 3 fantastic full length albums, 3 EPs, 3 split albums and 1 demo before deciding to split up in 2004, although their record label has occasionally released the odd compliation album or live recording in recent years. Only True Believers is Armagedda's second full length album and in my eyes, also their crowning achievement.
Actually it's a bit more than that, Only True Believers is also one of the greatest Black Metal albums ever recorded... in the history of everything... ever! And that's saying something, especially when you consider the incredible amount of Black Metal albums that are churned out year after year, half of which can be described as "average" or "okayish" at best in comparison. Of course, that's why this website was created in the first place.
The album kicks off with a sample of what one can only assume is a pair of monks getting pissed out of their eyeballs on their favourite wine, but after a couple of drunken "Aleluyas" Armagedda soon cut the crap and dive straight into what they do best, relentless and riff-driven Black Metal with some awe-inspiring drumming and amazing vocals thrown in for good measure. This can basically describe Only True Believers as a whole, a carefully executed selection of some of the greatest Black Metal riffs you will ever hear, with a few changes in tempo and some neat variations in the drumming patterns spread throughout the album just at the right moments so you never become bored or overwhelmed.
In this sense, and every other sense, all of the songs are perfectly balanced, and individual masterpieces in their own right. While most of them are predominantly fast songs with slower interludes, a few of the songs are actually of the slower and heavier variety of Black Metal, the best example of the latter being the album's closing song "Endless Fields Of Sorrows", which is hypnotizing to say the least.
Every aspect of Only True Believers is perfect in the sense that all the elements mix together seamlessly, thanks to the unique vocals provided by Graav, to the fucking awesome drumming provided by Erik Danielsson from Watain, and last but not least the amazing guitar work by A. Petterson which is constantly aggressive, catchy and fluid.
Not a second of this album is wasted on pretentious irregular rhythms, cheesy keyboard interludes or spoken word passages. Only True Believers is 40 minutes of non-stop Black Metal to the bone, and because of this some may consider the album's outro, "Night Of The Triumphator", which is actually a Satyricon cover, as a minor waste of time or even anti-climatic. However, this purely instrumental track is conveniently placed at the end of the album so it won't interrupt unless you happen to want to listen to the album over and over again... which might just be the case. Whatever the scenario, "Night Of The Triumphator" is actually a very dark piece of music so it doesn't really detract from the album's overall atmosphere, blending in pretty well as far as instrumental album closers go.
With the exception of a handful of genre-defining albums released in the first half of the 90's by some of Norway's pioneering Black Metal bands, Only True Believers is one of the few Black Metal albums ever released to successfully achieve what only the bravest or most ambitious of bands dare to attempt: to re-define what the genre represents. Whether these were Armagedda's intentions upon recording this album or not doesn't really matter because, at the end of the day, genres are made to be re-defined, and Black Metal is no exception. Or maybe that's just a load of bullshit and Only True Believers is just so damn good that it just seems like it re-defined the genre... it's probably for the best if we leave that for the listeners to decide.
What other albums sound similar to this?
Although Only True Believers has a fairly straight-forward structure as a whole, it does have a particular style of riffs, vocals, and drumming patterns that make it difficult when trying to recommend similar albums... Your first port of call will obviously Armagedda's other two albums, The Final War Approaching and especially Ond Spiritism: Djæfvulens Skalder, although each of their marvelous EPs and split albums are also stunning. It's all good in the Armagedda camp.
Elsewhere, Gorgoroth's early works, Darkthrone's early and mid-career albums and even some songs from Ondskapt, Watain, One Master, Ravencult, Tsjuder, Urgehal, Clandestine Blaze and even Celtic Frost all come to mind when listening to this album. One specific notable mention would be the Germans Katharsis and their 2000 album, titled 666. That said, many of these similarities are only superficial, and when it comes down to it Only True Believers is truly one of a kind.
In a nutshell...
If you were to crushing all of the best elements of Scandinavian Black Metal into a single album, with some truly unforgettable songs, a solid performance by all musicians involved, and a gripping atmosphere to boot, Only True Believers would be the result. This is one of Black Metal's hidden gems and also one of the more recent Black Metal masterpieces that can still be regarded as an all-time classic without even needing to belong to the 90s. It's not trying to impress anyone, it isn't trying anything special, it doesn't fuck around, it's raw, aggressive and to the point. Furthermore, it doesn't waste one second of the listener's time, providing unforgettable riffs, drumming and vocals from start to finish, and because of this Only True Believers will forever rank amongst the greatest Black Metal albums ever recorded. It's pure Black Metal at it's finest.
Site Admin - BestBlackMetalAlbums.com
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