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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.

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In the late 1990s a new charge of South American underground bands stormed the world due to the increasing popularity of Brazilian export Krisiun, comprised of the three Kolesne brothers. Every label you could imagine was seeking out their personal Brazilian death metal band, and as such every band that could write a decent song and play really fast was offered a contract. Within the year there were albums released globally by Abhorrence, Mental Horror, Nephasth, Ophiolatry and a couple of others,

Notable among these young hordes were Rebaelliun. Not because of their music, especially, as they were cut from a rather typical cloth of Slayer-meets-Morbid-Angel – but because of their do-or-die attitude. The fact that they had sold all their possessions (furniture, clothing, etc) in Brazil and moved to Belgium of all places to get a start in their productive but ultimately short-lived metal career, custodian only to a locally produced promo tape, speaks volumes of these men’s dedication. In one week they had secured their first gig, and based upon that very first gig (at the legendary Frontline club in Ghent) they were able to land a record deal with Holland’s Hammerheart Records.

11704863_875570659158593_2958795480706328621_nThe popular consensus at the time was that Rebaelliun was just another Krisiun clone, and to an extent that is true. The difference with Krisiun is that Rebaelliun relies heavier on the influence of early Slayer, and their Morbid Angel leanings are only secondary to that foundational aspect. The point is also that Rebaelliun, even this early in their career, knew to how to arrange a song. Certainly, they play at blistering speeds most of the time but the dynamics are actually very clever for a genre as limited as death metal. The leads/solos of Ronaldo Lima were another high mark and selling point for this band. Of the two guitarists, Lima is more technically proficient and melodically gifted compared to the more straightforward approach of Fabiano Penna Correa. The band took the template of early Krisiun and worked their individual strengths around that basic framework. The result is an album that is savagely brutal, dynamic in composition but with an old school charm and warmth that was lost on Krisiun from “Ageless Venomous” onwards.

While Sandro Moreira’s drumming is intensely hammering and mostly unrelenting, the way he incorporates fills, rolls and cymbal crashes is a lot more creative and engaging than anything Moyses Kolesne from Krisiun ever did at that point or later on. In a lot of ways you could see it as thrash metal drumming sped up to the standards of the then-emerging blast death movement. On lead and rhythm guitar is the pair of Ronaldo Lima and Penna Correa, both whose primary source of inspiration lies with Slayer and Morbid Angel. The opening riff to ‘Spawning the Rebellion’ is vintage Slayer worship and the track ‘Hell’s Decree’ channels “Covenant” more than once, to say the least. The leads and solos are mostly of the Hoffman era Deicide variety. Marcello Marzari’s vocals are more barked than grunted, and while his bass playing provides the band with the most of its heaviness, it isn’t exactly special or captivating.  The bass playing is just typical doubling of the guitars and not much else otherwise.

11754495_876032055783910_8060379560008370254_oAnother thing that Rebaelliun understood, and what Krisiun didn’t seem to grasp, is that playing a bit slower, or mixing up faster and slower sections, adds to the depth of the song. Where Krisiun has a very single-minded approach to how they construct and perform their death metal, Rebaelliun had no problems with letting some early thrash architecture slip into their formula. This, of course, is much more beneficial to the band in the long run. Occasionally there are guitar lead trade-offs, but these are hardly as prominent as those in Diabolic’s original three-album run in the early 2000s. The lyrics are far from compelling as they deal with the usual subjects of war, extermination and religious defamation. Not surprising when you consider this band hails from Brazil, who like Poland, are amongst the most religious conservative Catholic countries in the world.

The album consists almost entirely of new and original material written specifically for this session. Outside of opening track ‘At War’ and mid album crusher ‘Spawning the Rebellion’ no demo tracks were refurbished. This is fairly logical considering that their “Promo Tape ‘98” consisted of only those two earlier mentioned tracks. Interesting is also the instrumental track ‘Flagellation of Christ (the Revenge of King Beelzebuth)’ which consists of spooky church organs, chiming funeral bells, sparse percussion and esoteric minimal guitar playing. The limited digipack of this album also contained the “At War” mini-CD, which was a single-CD limited repress of the band’s “Promo Tape ‘98”.

There are no weak moments to speak of on this record, although towards the end the riffing tends to get a bit samey. ‘Killing For the Domain’, ‘Spawning the Rebellion’, ‘Hell’s Decree’ and ‘The Legacy Of Eternal Wrath’ are the strongest tracks of this session. The production work is of the old school variety, meaning that not everything is balanced and equalized to glossy perfection. Moreira’s drums suffer the most from the limited production, having the snares sound like buckets, with indistinct sounding kickdrums that despite their lack of clarity add much to organic feeling of the record. Marzari’s bass guitar is mixed deeply under the meaty guitars and doesn’t get much space in the production other than providing the deeply rumbling undercurrent and thickness.

Like the erupting volcano that made up the album art for this record, Rebaelliun exploded unto the scene with finesse and conviction. In the wake of this record the band would tour Europe extensively, before recording another EP and finally a second album. After the touring campaign for their second album “Annihilation” Rebaelliun would fall apart due to a number of reasons. Years down the line Penna Correa would resurface with the more thrash-oriented The Ordher, Sandro Moreira would enroll in Mental Horror and Marcello Marzari would rejoin Abhorrence on a permanent basis. Little is known of what became of prodigious guitar player Ronaldo Lima, but the rumors persist that he stopped playing altogether after the Rebaelliun adventure ended as the band members returned to Brazil and all went their separate ways at various points.