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Hell Militia - Jacob's Ladder [Season of Mist - 2012]

Hell Militia are a French black metal band formed in 2001, and "Jacob's Ladder" is their third full length.

The album starts with an extremely bleak spoken word sample from I believe Abel Ferrara's "Bad Lieutenant" that sets the tone for the following fifty minutes of nihilistic black metal.

Hell Militia's sound is very powerful and well produced, and in fact their music is a bit too clean and sterile for my taste. I can't deny the sense of absolute aggression and dread inspired by their notes though, and I must hail them for coming up with quite a few classic black metal moments.

The riffing is generally  simple, traditional yet very variegated and Hell Militia's axes are very well laid out and balanced. Some episodes ("Sternenfall", for example) are closer to "avant-garde black metal" of sorts though, reminding me of the atonal, dissonant maelstrom of Deathspell Omega, if a bit more constrained.

Vocals are once again probably my favourite element of the record, with an unusually good array of effects used in a very thoughtful way, and a perfect delivery. The anthemic "Death Worship" track is a valid example of interesting metal production and uncommon exploitation of effects on vocals. It reminded me a bit of Voivod's most alienating and robotic songs.

The rhythmic session is just right and decently massive, not providing many surprises except for some Voivod-esque bass sounds. The use of samples is a tad bit more interesting than usual in black metal bands, and the implementation of keyboards is kept at the minimum.

In conclusion, "Jacob's Ladder" is a good black metal album with a few interesting and original twists. I must say that the whole experience didn't excite me too much, but I reckon that this is a solid work by a talented band. If anything, Hell Militia are another proof that France is twisting heavy metal in the right way

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Nicola Vinciguerra
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