Rising from the pit of late nineties underground speed metal, Chileans Apostasy revived during the last decade to bring back to life a pure demonstration of metal as it is. There is no need to claim to be progressive, harsh, technical or the milliard other epithets that bands and marketing agents have come up to single out bands which present only narrow facets of what the genre can be. We can hear traces of what came to be known as the ‘riff salad,’, but like later death metal outgrowths of the style, there is a sense of organic flow and revolving around a main riff-idea. The style was taken to its motific apex in releases like Atheist’s Unquestionable Presence. Here, we should beware of making the mistake of concluding that therefore Atheist’s music is immediately superior because of this single fact.
The Blade of Hell is an important transition EP for Apostasy in that it still bears traces of the classic speed metal and the newer purifications as demonstrated by the great Ripper. We may notice that real/true/underground speed metal bands of any talent will move towards said purification, rather than the accostumed retrograde revival. Apostasy still relies on filler chug-based riffs on this EP, while displaying freer modal tremolo-picked passages that provide more palpable content. The release stays the course most of the time and is obviously an outgrowth of the older Sunset of the End, with clear attempts at moving forward without altogether breaking away.
It displays the typical materialization of unconscious darkness which metal is really all about. Highlights are the aforementioned organic approach to structure, which now handled as flows can maintain and variate, and then change, in ways that build thrust without becoming intelligible. Low points are the use of chugs as crutches at certain points, and the run-of-the-mill melodic intros or interludes backed with a clear, non-distorted guitar: a detriment and distractor to the darkness. A few abrupt and unjustified transitions seem clearly stitched, especially on the last track. Overall, the other two non-intro tracks on the EP are solid and maintain their head above water level.
The main role and value of The Blade of Hell in the longer view of things, is a building block and stepping stone towards the recently released The Sign of Darkness, which demonstrates a more powerful, compact and developed voice by Apostasy. The Blade of Hell is thoroughly enjoyable as a taste of underground speed metal as unfiltered aggression, but the reader is recommended to turn to their 2017 rehearsal recording Into the Rehearsal, which retakes the best of the old, recharges it with renewed energy, thus bringing in their new and matured voice into the equation. Ultimately, we look forward to the full experience in The Sign of Darkness.