Root - 'Heritage Of Satan' (Agonia) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Mark Ashby   
Wednesday, 04 January 2012 05:00

Root_2011_Heritage_Of_SatanWidely regarded as leaders of the eastern European black metal scene, Czech underground legends Root certainly take their subject extremely seriously, with founder member Jiri 'BigBoss' Valter not only regarded as one of the leading (dark) lights of the movement over the past quarter of a century, but also the founder of the Church Of Satan in his native land.


As if he needed to add to his credentials, Valter has recruited what he describes as 'The Unholy Trinity' - former Mayhem mainman Blasphemer, the equally legendary Nergal (in his first recordings since his recent brush with near-death) and Watain frontman Erik - to help out on vocal duties for this, Root's ninth studio album and first in four years (and also their debut for Poland's Agonia label).


Sounds like a recipe for a thoroughly evil album...


It starts with the appropriately named 'Introprincipio', a five-plus invocation of the evil spirits of the underworld, chanted in low tones over a down-tuned piano: the effect is creepy but not convincing (although I was listening to it with the lights on and the Champions League on mute in the corner - well, one doesn't want to take too many chances?!). First track proper, 'In Nomine Sathanas' is a short, sharp shock of classic death metal, with an almost bluesy guitar interlude, while 'Legacy Of Ancestors' veers very firmly into rabble-rousing punk territory, but built over a thrash riff (and not the most original ones at that). 'Revenge Of Hell' starting with a mock-cartoon character Dracula voiceover and continues with a guttural chant over a chugging guitar that is virtually lost in the awful production: however, it ends beautifully, with an atmospheric acoustic guitar piece, on which the scraped strings actually succeed in sounding just that little bit scary.


'Darksome Prophet' finally provides something worth listening to - a brutal death metal riff built over a breakneck beatdown of blastbeats, topped off with some thoroughly foul vocals, while 'Fiery Message' has some nice ethereal touches and 'Son Of Satan' doesn't know if it wants to be a second-rate death metal tune or a satanic tea party polka (although, again, the third quarter of the song is the strongest section). 'His Coming' is just plain awful, 'Greetings From The Abyss' starts well, and is almost reminiscent of Slayer in its opening riff, but then just disappears back in the crack of doom from whence it cames, as does closer 'The Apocalypse' - a title which just about serves to sum up the entire album.


There are some nice touches on this album, but overall there's a feeling of emptiness and unfulfilled promise, with the entire opus hampered by an awful production which places far too much emphasis on the tinny drum sound and often buries the guitar in a mire of muddiness (it isn't until the last track that we get a decent solo), while the vocals are often comedic, always deriviative and about as evil as the baddies in a Scooby Doo episode... mind you, I'll still be looking over my shoulder the next time I walk down a dark alleyway in Prague!