Album Title: The Final War
Label: Barbarian Wrath
This is a compilation CD of the first two demos (Hymns to the Apocalypse and The Heretic) from Megiddo, a Canadian band playing black metal.
The sound on both of these demos is much more raw and unpolished than on Megiddo's full-length albums. The guitar sound is thinner, and there's a lot more hiss and distortion in the background, especially during The Heretic, the first demo on the CD -- the filthy black metal atmosphere on that one is perfect! Also, the computer drums are more than a little distracting, especially during the blasting sections. Fortunately, the vocal performance on The Heretic makes up for it with a huge dose of ferocity and contempt. The vocals are a lot quieter on Hymns to the Apocalypse, but they're still powerful. I like the loud bass during Hymns to the Apocalypse, as well.
The songwriting here is quite similar to Megiddo's other work: stripped-down, thrashy Satanic black metal in the finest first wave style. Most of these songs have been re-recorded on The Devil and the Whore and Atavism of Evil. Still, there are a few new songs here. "Demonomancy" is by far the best of them -- the driving beat and snarling, debauched vocals are classic Megiddo. I don't think there are many of their later songs that beat this one, even. "Sacrifice (The Blood Rites)" is such a good song that you get to hear it twice. I think the Heretic version is better, solely due to the extra vocal volume. In addition, there are two cover songs: Darkthrone's "Earth's Last Picture" and Sodom's "Burst Command Til War". I like the Darkthrone cover a bit more, but both are great.
If you haven't heard Megiddo yet, this isn't the best place to start. Either of the full-lengths will be a better introduction to the band. That said, these are two of the best black metal demos of the last ten years, and this collection is limited, so if you like either of the albums you really ought to get this. The raw sound, extra tracks, and sheer visceral anger of these demos makes them worth owning even if you've already got re-recorded versions of most of these songs. I still reach for this CD on a frequent basis, years after I first heard The Final War. Highly recommended.
Standout Tracks: "Demonomancy", "Pentagram", "Sacrifice (The Blood Rites)"