Belfegor - _The Kingdom of Glacial Palaces_
(WWIII, 2001)
Fog - _Through the Eyes of Night..._
(WWIII, 2001)
Hate - _Holy Dead Trinity_
(WWIII, 2001)
by: Pedro Azevedo (7 / 8 / 7 out of 10)
I have strong doubts that man will require any help from Satan to eventually start a third World War one of these days. However, the people behind this American label seem to think differently, as WWIII have chosen three very Satanic-themed records for this attack of theirs. WWIII, a label thus far unbeknownst to me, decided to release all three of these records simultaneously on April 10th, in order to try to make an impression on the metal market. Let's have a look at some quick facts about the bands, then. Belfegor and Fog both play black metal. Hate and Belfegor are both Polish. Fog and Hate do not share any remarkable similarities that I am aware of which might distinguish them from Belfegor, but it would have been nice for the structure of this review if they did.

The involuntary mental association between the words "Polish death metal band" and "Vader clone" is not dispelled by the first few moments of Hate's _Holy Dead Trinity_. In fact, it never is entirely dispelled during the album; the lingering thought of Vader prevails despite the fact that Hate do not generally sound too close to them. The similarities are there, though, mixed with some straightforward American influences and the occasional Swedish buzzsaw guitar sound (like in the fine opening title track). However, Satan's possession of their souls doesn't seem to have lasted long enough for the band to record the whole album in one go, so they had to wait for a new demonic possession before they could go into the studio at least one more time to finish the album. This resulted in _HDT_ sounding like a well-produced five-song EP followed by a somewhat weaker sounding collection of songs (39 minutes in total). The quality of the songs themselves is not very consistent after the opening sequence either, which in addition to the noticeably different sound gives the album a somewhat disjointed feel. (I am certain that not even Satan himself would have minded if they cut down a bit on those mediocre song intros during the second half of _HDT_, by the way.) The band is very competent and _HDT_ is still generally enjoyable, if rather generic and irregular. The disguised five-song EP that opens the album might have been worth an 8 out of 10 on its own, but the less entertaining second half of the record drags the rating down one mark. Overall, _HDT_ pales in comparison to Lost Soul's _Scream of the Mourning Star_ [also reviewed in this issue], but I will be interested in hearing a more consistent follow-up record from this band.

Hate's countrymates Belfegor, on the other hand, have chosen Immortal as a template for their black metal attack. Although not gifted with quite the same knack for cliche black metal song titles as Immortal, Belfegor certainly still make an effort in their own way: there's the title track, "The Night of the Tormentor", "I'll Come From Four Sides of the World" and "Diabolical (Demonic Desire)", which are the first four song titles, with "Satanighthrone" towards the end. _The Kingdom of Glacial Palaces_ does bear considerable resemblance to Immortal's _Battles in the North_, as Belfegor try to conjure a Satanic icy storm of comparable proportions. Fast drumming teams up with guitars that sometimes try to generate a little melody whilst sounding quite dirty and strong for a black metal release, producing a very reasonably dynamic and aggressive instrumental base. Unfortunately, however, Belfegor's vocalist proves to be one of Satan's least gifted minions as he unsuccessfully tries to emulate Immortal's Abbath. Many riffs in this album sound very much alike and the rhythmic section is mostly uniform, as Belfegor tend to immerse themselves in their own aural storm too much. Memorable passages are therefore not very abundant, which is a bit of a shame, because they do achieve some good moments during the album. These are usually scattered around, probably as reminders of how good this album could really have been -- one of the few tracks that actually stands out in its entirety is "Eternity of Gloom". Hadn't it been for their lack of originality and the aforementioned problems, Belfegor would have been worth recommending more enthusiastically, because _The Kingdom of Glacial Palaces_ is actually a reasonably good album. Overall, however, _Battles in the North_ is still the best of the two records, despite the noteworthy passages that Belfegor do occasionally achieve.

As for Fog, these Americans at least do come across as more individual than either of their Polish labelmates. The elemental storm that Satan summoned so that Fog could enter "In Magnificent Glory" was somewhat too strong for Fog's own good, however, as their instrumental attack sounds quite weak immediately after the loud thunderous sounds of the intro. Nevertheless, the production does have its charms, as it highlights the interesting cymbal work and the bass lines (Ulver, anyone?). On the other hand, the fact that the instruments sound quite separated from each other causes a slight overload of the left channels in your stereo -- noticeable if you are using headphones. Still, Fog's mixture of Norwegian rawness and grim, icy melodies is very effective and musically involved, producing a very satisfactory result. Their black metal is entirely guitar-driven, backed by swift percussion and the aforementioned prominent cymbal work, and with some passable black rasps on top. Fog achieve quite consistent atmosphere and a pleasant moroseness in their music whilst still keeping it mostly fast, and they do so especially well during the eight and a half minute long title track. The rest of the album fully justifies its 8 out of 10 rating, but the title track does suggest it could have been even higher. The poorly balanced stereo may get on your nerves a bit if you insist on using headphones, but that should not deter you from seeking this record -- even in spite of the further annoyance of the penultimate track being recorded at a lower volume than the rest. (Maybe they also had problems with the duration of Satan's possession of their souls, like Hate seem to have had. I wonder what was Belfegor's dark secret that allowed them to avoid such problems.) Why Fog have decided to present us with over nine minutes of elemental stormy sounds at the end of this hour long record, however, is something I don't think even Satan himself fully comprehends -- it tends to get really old really fast after a minute or two, in my opinion.

Altogether, WWIII present us with a triumvirate of very decent releases that seems unlikely to be remarkable enough to put them on the map as one of the premier extreme metal labels, but should still make people become aware of them. Hate and Belfegor are quite competent but rather generic, while Fog is the most interesting of the three bands. Satan could have been more generous in terms of the inspiration he provided these servants of his with for coming up with band names, though.

(article published 12/8/2001)


ALBUMS
1/20/2006 A McKay 5 Hate - Anaclasis: A Haunting Gospel of Malice & Hatred
3/26/2003 A McKay 5.5 Hate - Cain's Way
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