Hecate Enthroned – “Virulent Rapture” (Crank Records)
Wow, this one takes me back to the mid 90s of London’s burgeoning scene centered around the Devil’s Church club when names like Hecate Enthroned were fast rising stars. Playing symphonic black metal that mixed the equally regarded Norwegian style with gothic choirs and orchestra, their sound was both epic and daring for their time. However, there were also comparisons to Cradle Of Filth especially in their speedier material that I suspect sowed the seeds of internal schisms which ultimately would deny the band their success. Shame really cos a lotta people at the time thought they were the better band – or at least less commercial. Towards the turn of the century Hecate Enthroned took on a more blackened death approach and since then have gone through significant line up changes with only guitarist Nigel Dennen and long time bassist Dylan Hughes remaining from the early days. Still, all is not lost! “Virulent Rapture” is aptly titled, not just because it is the band’s first release in nine years, but it also happens to be a damn fine album! Coming almost full circle, the band have taken the best of their past and brought it all together on superb songs like ‘To Wield The Hand Of Perdition’, ‘Immateria’ and ‘Of Witchery And The Blood Moon’. Mixing both death like growls and unashamed Dani Filth screamo, the guitar work is nothing short of amazing – possibly the best work they have ever done – driving the album lushly with dark riffs and evil melodies beautifully enhanced by some exquisite orchestral work – truly the masterful symphonic black metal that Hecate Enthroned were so famous for all those years ago. Clearly the band’s decision to self produce this has worked to their advantage with everything from the sound to the quality of the deep material being picture perfect. This one has succeeded in bringing back all the past memories for me and if it works in regaining the band past glories surely this is one group that truly deserves it?