AZELISASSATH is one of the projects of prolific Swedish Black Metal musician Svarthadauphuz. Operating as (or in) such highly acclaimed projects as Beketh Nexehmü, Svartrit and Grav, Svarthadauphuz has created somewhat of an own niche, an own brand of vile, raw and rough to the core Black Metal that draws inspiration from the aspects that established the art form back in the 90ies. The black and white cover art, unpolished sounds, corpse paint photos and an overtly negative and elitist stance have “Old School” written all over them and the presentation is so straight forward that there is no doubt about the sincerity of the artists involved. His label Ancient Records, home to most of the aforementioned projects and many more, has gathered a cult following and urged many fanatics to draw the comparison to Les Legions Noires. The second full-length under the AZELISASSATH moniker “Evil Manifestations Against Mankind”, however, was released as a pro CD by Schattenkult Produktionen and Dancing in the Trees and shows not only why the artist's work is held so dear by many fans, but also his musical qualities.
Atmosphere is the key ingredient in “Evil Manifestations Against Mankind”. The sound is full of sinister bile and negative murkiness, as one would assume from the concept and images. AZELISASSATH doesn't seem to be out for no holds barred aggression, but favours a feeling of eerie sickness and contempt, instead. Not full throttle distortion, but a slight hint of dissonance define the guitars and drums that are presented cleanly and clearly. This results in a slightly melancholic and medieval soundscape (comparisons to Mütiilation or Cultes des Ghoules be made) that succeeds at completely capturing the listeners attention over the 34 minute playtime.
The song writing and composition prove to be incredibly powerful and balance simplicity and complexity in a manner that leaves almost no wishes open. Catchy but crafty riffs nicely interact with each other in some parts, whereas others are drawn out. Despite the aforementioned eccentricity of the sounds (at least, judging by modern standards), AZELISASSATH delivers “hit tracks” on “Evil Manifestations Against Mankind”. Though far from punky or rocky, tracks like “In Times of Heresy” or “Chains of the Fearless” are quite easily approachable and structured, resulting in a unique mixture of raw sound and on-point melodic qualities known from many Finnish bands. Despite the strict continuation of his style, the songs are diverse and there are no tracks that seem to be leftovers or half-hearted copies of stronger ones. “A Fate so Destined to Come”, for example, has a very slow and depressing feel to it and works as a great contrast without renouncing the virtues established by its companions.
The vocal style never demands too much attention and remains a kind of creepy and sickly hidden aspect of AZELISASSATH's sound that stretches out subtly over the actual music. Although this is a decision that may be frowned upon by some, the feeling it creates is certainly beneficial towards the atmosphere that mainly derives from the way the sounds are crafted. Although “Evil Manifestations towards Mankind” works perfectly as it is, it is open to debate whether a more upfront vocal mix may not have been the better way to go. The lyrics themselves suit the whole presentation perfectly. Theistic, medieval satanism, death, despair and general hatred for humanity without any pretentious artsiness or apologies presented in a black and white booklet show that supposed “clichés” still work, when they are done the right way by the right person.
“Evil Manifestations towards Mankind” by AZELISASSATH is a unique and impressing album. The style has a lot of character and identity, the songs are well arranged and the atmosphere is compelling. Certainly a gem for anybody who lusts after the uncompromising ugliness and malice of old school Black Metal and seeks unpolished but skillful negativity. Highly recommended!