By Craig Haze
I’m not a religious or even particularly spiritual person. However, like countless metal fans of a similar persuasion, that doesn’t stop me enjoying the inherent wickedness of filthy, satanic metal. Still, if any album in 2012 is going to convince me of Old Nick’s presence, then Embers and Revelations, the latest from bestial four-piece Weapon, is the one. The Canadian band’s third full-length, and first for new label Relapse, is an unrelentingly sacrilegious onslaught of noxious blackened death. With a far more vivid and barbed production than its predecessors, it is Weapon’s most commanding release yet.
If you’re familiar with Weapon then you’ll know the band are draped in an unashamedly evil aura. Of course, the phraseology and presentation of evil is a troublesome concept in the metal world. Some bands exhibit it admirably, others laughably. Personally, after decades of metal fandom, supernatural fears have long been replaced by existential terrors, but there have been moments when I’ve been hugely impressed by the application of pure evil, notably so when I heard Weapon’s debut full-length, 09’s Drakonian Paradigm.
The demonic dialect of Weapon’s debut left me unsettled, in a similarly primal and bone-chilling fashion as when I heard that “Woe to you…” intro on “Number of the Beast” for the very first time. It was impossible to dispute the sincerity or impact of Weapon’s malevolent aesthetic on their debut, as founding vocalist and guitarist Vetis Monarch wrapped satanic mantras around roughhewn blackened death. The band’s sophomore release, 10’s From the Devil’s Tomb, continued that diabolical assault with added sonic refinements, although it stuck within the parameters of Weapon’s red-raw riffs, pulverizing percussion, gruff vocals, and their mystical Eastern iniquity.
Embers and Revelations continues that same corrupting course, oozing a miasmatic atmosphere, with Weapon’s nefariousness aptly amplified. Although it’s a given that evil exists in abundance on Embers and Revelations, what is most impressive about the album is that Weapon have unearthed the perfect conduit for their devilry. All the band’s previous releases have been formidable, especially if you’re fond of festering underground metal, but compositionally Embers and Revelations towers over them all. The album is more intricate and cutthroat, and bespattered with the blood of profound ceremonial endeavors.
The question of why Embers and Revelations sounds so complete is easily answered; Weapon sound like a true band here. Weapon has suffered numerous line-up challenges over the years, and joining Monarch on Embers and Revelations are drummer Disciple, bassist Kha Tumos and guitarist Rom Surtr. Fingers crossed (or inverted) that the line-up sticks, because the (in)harmonious ensemble sound like they’re all incanting with a shared focus and will. As such, Embers and Revelations is the most accomplished Weapon release, with the frenzied bass, rapid-fire drumming and swift riffs and leads all combining into a torrent that’s vitriolic yet nuanced.
Proof of the band’s conjuring comes thick and fast, with Weapon swathing its darkly melodic riffs in a rich and layered infusion of the frosty and the fittingly scorching. “The First Witnesses of Lucifer”, “Vanguard of the Morning Star”, “Crepuscular Swamp, Unhinged Swine” and “Liber Lilith” blaze by with a cleaner and fuller production than the past. While fans of the band’s previous endeavors might baulk at the idea of too much clarity, there’s still copious grime on the strings—Weapon certainly haven’t polished off all the crud. That clearness only emphasizes the precision of all the serpentine riffs, leads, and thunderous drumming on “Grotesque Carven Portal”, “Embers and Revelations” and “Disavowing Each in Aum”.
Monarch’s throat-shredding growls express his blasphemous fervor flawlessly. Lyrically, it’s as expected—depravity abounds. But perversity aside, Monarch’s Satanism is not hollow or shallow profanity. There’s considered, studied occultism behind his words, and like Melechesh or Watain, it’s that erudite substance that gives weight to Embers and Revelations’ lyrical significance.
Embers and Revelations is a not simply a singular destructive firestorm. It rests comfortably in the blackened death realm (crushing the bones of the pious, one hopes), but that aforementioned nuance is integral in ensuring the album is scattered with gloomier, digressing and captivating passages. Weapon have always had a distinct voice, and the album’s lucidity and variances confirm the proficiency of all involved, underscoring the strength of the band’s timbre.
Weapon has met the increased attention of signing to Relapse head-on, with the most coherent realization of their ideological and musical vision thus far. Embers and Revelations draws from a thoroughly Luciferian lexicon, and is a magnificent deluge of ungodliness. Weapon prove, once again, that an abundance of sinister creativity can be dredged from the quagmire of blackened death and masterfully butchered upon the altar.