cover-rebaelliun

The return of Brazilian death metal hopefuls Rebaelliun was unexpected, but understandable considering how they fizzled out in wake two strong albums, and a highly proficient membership that was willing to go great lengths to succeed. “The Hell’s Decrees”, a name directly lifted from a song of its 1999 debut “Burn the Promised Land”, sees the return of the quartet after a 15-year layoff. The follow-up to 2001’s “Annihilation” is the logical evolution from its debut, and adds a degree of sophistication to its otherwise typically blistering South American assault.

Prior to forming Rebaelliun, Fabiano, Penna Correa and Lima were part of local force Blessed. During the plus decade that Rebaelliun was inactive, Fabiano Penna Correa (lead guitar) released two albums with The Ordher, and Sandro Moreira (drums) released albums with Mental Horror and, more recently, Exterminate. Sensing some unfinished business in the past the men eventually reconciled and set to record “The Hell’s Decrees”. Despite a 15-year break in between albums “The Hell’s Decrees” has all the confidence, flow and sense of unity sounding as if Rebaelliun never split in the first place.

Opening cut ‘Affronting the Gods’ has a closing solo that bears some striking resemblance to those in ‘Triumph Of the Unholy Ones’ from “Burn the Promised Land”. ‘Legion’ sounds more Morbid Angel than Morbid Angel does itself these days. ‘The Path of the Wolf’ comes the closest to “Annihilation”. ‘Fire and Brimstone’ could have been a song of “Weaponize” or “Kill the Betrayers”, the two albums from Penna Correa’s post-Rebaelliun project The Ordher. The short burst riffing in ‘Rebaelliun’ recalls ‘Kings Of the Unholy Blood’ from the “Bringer Of War” EP. ‘Dawn Of Mayhem’ bears some slight resemblance to local force Exterminate. ‘Crush the Cross’ the retakes the closing section of “Burn the Promised Land” song ‘Hell’s Decree’. Closing track ‘Anarchy (The Hell’s Decrees Manifesto)’ references a drum pattern from ‘Hell’s Decree’ from “Burn the Promised Land” in its first minute and during the final solo the lead from ‘…And the Immortals Shall Rise’ of its 1999 debut is referenced.

A good portion of the riffing and chord progressions during the slower sections on “The Hell’s Decrees” are reminiscent of The Ordher more than any of Rebaelliun’s earlier work. It’s only natural that Penna Correa’s and Lima’s riff construction would change in the 15-year layoff in between the second and this much protracted third album. For all intents and purposes Sandro Moreira is a more accomplished percussionist than Max Kolesne (Krisiun) or Ariadne Souza (from the greatly underrated Valhalla). Slayer and, to a lesser degree, prime era Morbid Angel remain Rebaelliun’s main influences. The Morbid Angel influence can be heard in the trudging midpaced opening to ‘Legion’. Since “Annihilation” Rebaelliun has shed most of its melodic inclinations and overt Krisiun imitation. “The Hell’s Decrees” is the first Rebaelliun album to be its own distinct entity. Lohy Fabiano’s belched, low register vocals are closer to those of Marcello Marzari on the debut.

“The Hell’s Decrees” isn’t necessarily higher-paced than any of the band’s prior work, but in writing it lies closer to “Burn the Promised Land” than to “Annihilation”. Isolated passages of songs are reminiscent of the “Bringer Of War” stopgap EP that separated both albums. One of the greatest flaws of “Annihilation”, in terms of writing, was that it pushed the band’s sound to its logical extreme. Unlike “Annihilation” this third album isn’t primarily fast, inhuman speed is no longer its primary objective. “The Hell’s Decrees” embraces the same songwriting breadth that characterized its debut. In being more deliberately paced “The Hell’s Decrees” sidesteps the architectural shortcoming of its 2001 album. At this juncture Rebaelliun is more artistically relevant than populist institution Krisiun.

For the third Rebaelliun much of the production was kept in-house. The vocals were recorded at Blue House Studios. The guitars and bass guitar were recorded at El Diablo Studio with Fabiano Penna Correa producing, whereas the drums were recorded at A Torre Studios. “The Hell’s Decrees” was mastered at Absolute Mastering by Neto Grous. “The Hell’s Decrees” combines the crunch of the “Bringer Of War” EP with the instrumental clarity of “Annihilation”. It is tonally closer, but ultimately superior, to the Exterminate album “Burn Illusion” – especially in its organic drum tones. The only criticism that could be levelled at it is that it, despite its obvious auditory sheen and gloss, misses some of the concrete heft and body of “Burn Of the Promised Land”

In keeping with modern conventions Rebaelliun allocated artwork by fellow Brazilian Marcelo Vasco, who over the last few years has done high-profile work for Belphegor, Dark Funeral, Horncrowned, and more recently, Slayer. Instead retaining continuity with its prior album and hiring Polish artist Jacek Wiśniewski again the band opted, understandably, to make “The Hell’s Decrees” its own distinct entity. Even though the album is littered with subtle, and not so subtle, references to past efforts – it clearly has a character all its own: rugged, flawlessly paced and singular in its objective of masterfully crafted songs. No longer Rebaelliun can be accused of being a Krisiun clone.

As far as these reunions go Rebaelliun comes out of mostly unscathed and with their integrity intact. That they aren’t the same band as 15 years ago seems only logical, and the influence of Penna Correa can be construed as beneficial or detrimental, depending on your preference of his post-Rebaelliun projects. The visual and production aspect of “The Hell’s Decrees” is contemporary but not overbearingly so. There’s an analog warmth and grittiness to “The Hell’s Decrees” that many modern genre albums lack. As such its closer linked to “Burn the Promised Land” than any of its later output. The record doesn’t aim to reinvent the genre, but puts it traditional aesthetics into a modern framework. South American death metal fans can’t go wrong with this.

cover-rebaelliunEP.jpg

 

After having released one of the more promising debuts of recents years Brazilian death metal combo Rebaelliun capitalized on the newfound interest. Arriving merely a year after its debut the “Bringer Of War” EP was a prelude to its second album, and a tribute to one of its most audible inspirations. The EP combined three new tracks with a cover rendition of Morbid Angel song ‘Day Of Suffering’. The EP is by and large an extension of what the band did on its debut, and a bridge to its newer, slightly more melodic material that would come to define their second and final album, the aptly named “Annihilation”.

Caught between two worlds in terms of writing the “Bringer Of War” EP doesn’t sound exactly like “Burn the Promised Land”, but it doesn’t yet have the sense of melody and the overly blast-oriented approach of the band’s second album “Annihilation”. For better or worse, it has Rebaelliun undecided on what sound they want to pursue. The levels of pure visceral intensity and speed have been dialed up, but the dynamic range of the debut remains intact. Overall there’s a more American slant to the writing with this EP while in terms of construction its definitely European sounding. The looming Morbid Angel influence on these compositions is hard to deny, but it has been toned down compared to the debut. With Penna Correa as the sole guitarist for the session, the new tracks are more straightforward and direct, while the leads/solos clearly ape the classic lead sound of American thrashers Slayer. With this EP Rebaelliun wanted to match itself with notorious US blast unit Hate Eternal, and their popular countrymen Krisiun. As noted are the influences of Morbid Angel and early Slayer still present, but they aren’t as obvious as on “Burn the Promised Land” anywhere. The “Bringer Of War” EP is a different beast altogether. A fiercer, focused and more confrontational one at that.

11046880_888238161229966_7785628387951081504_oWhile the intensity and speed level has been dialed up each of the cuts is also leaner in construction. Where the debut occasionally still had riffs that fulfilled no other function than to introduce the next, here each and every part of a song is there for a reason. Not that any of these songs are particularly complex as far as architecture or writing are concerned. In the quest for intensity Rebaelliun has sacrificed some of the Morbid Angel leanings that made “Burn the Promised Land” so appealing. The writing here follows Krisiun’s “Apocalyptic Revelation” and “Conquerors Of Armageddon” more than anything else. The leads and solos still are the highpoint of these tracks, along with the incessant battering of drummer Sandro Moreira. As was the case with the debut the barked vocals of Marcello Marzari (in what would be his final recording with the band) are still as commonplace and interchangeable as they were before, but at least his bass playing got slightly more interesting. Rebaelliun still was an obvious Krisiun clone, but the outlines of a more individual take on the genre starts to slowly surface here.

One of the obvious changes comes with the production. Whereas the debut sounded like a glorified demo recording, “Bringer Of War” adds tremendous levels of clarity and definition to an already crunchy whole, but sacrifices organic warmth for digital gloss. There’s a very “live” feel to this EP in terms of recording, but each and every instrument sounds cleaner, heavier and more precise here. Even Marcello Marzari’s belching, throaty vocals sound more honest and raw this time around. The drums sound a lot less like cardboard and empy buckets, probably due to superior recording techniques and triggering. The bass guitar is turned up a notch, but its tone still isn’t very clear or refined sounding. The guitar tone is louder, cleaner and more concrete all around.

The artwork carries on with the band’s previously established antireligious war concept. Its successor “Annihilation” would depart from that thematic in terms of lay-out, but continues the direction taken with this EP. “Bringer Of War” is hardly a game changer, but it sees Rebaelliun taking the necessary steps to justify its continued existence. What the band truly would be capable of would be displayed on its second album “Annihilation”. It’s unfortunate that Rebaelliun ceased to exist after that, but perhaps for the better in the long run – as they wouldn’t be able to keep dialing up the intensity the way they did on the few releases they put out in their short lifetime.