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Cell666

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Album Review

With their belated debut album, 2004's Cell 666 (amazingly released almost a decade after the band first started playing together), Sweden's Apostasy show that, like their Westerly neighbors Dimmu Borgir, they excel at producing incredibly heavy death/black metal thoroughly laced with spiraling synthesizers. Indeed, album highlights such as "Crowned in Thorns," "I Con," and "Reign of Chaos" feature whirling synth lines wrapped around their every brutal guitar riff, leading to an often head-spinning sense of vertigo. Given their extremely busy arrangements, it doesn't take long for sensory overkill to take hold during the disc's somewhat recycled second half, but there's still plenty to love about the masterful samples of symphonic metal cited above, as well as the similarly engaging title track, which pushes the envelope even further thanks to a dazzling interlude featuring delicate piano performed over galloping power chords and pounding drums. Upon looking a little closer, some might also notice that Apostasy pay unusual attention to their lyrics by extreme metal standards, since the entirety of Cell 666 is thematically linked by matters of mental instability and its hellish consequences. Or is it the other way around? Whatever, between this highbrow approach and their widespread dependence on keyboards, Apostasy is unlikely to interest fans of more basic and straightforward black metal. But for enthusiasts of the genre's more sophisticated style of songwriting (particularly Enthrone Darkness Triumphant-era Dimmu), Cell 666 is a satisfyingly mature, if predictable update on that well-tested formula.

Cell666, Apostasy
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