With their homeland having become a noticeable entity for black metal at its most experimental, nauseating and evil best, it is no surprise that black/death metallers The Order Of Apollyon hail from the land of France. In fact, The Order… were actually instigated and led by a prime member of influential Asosoth, namely B.S.T, as their debut saw an impressive who’s who of extreme metal, but sadly with fine if uninspiring results. Five years on sees the follow up, The Sword And The Dagger (Listenable), an altered lineup, and a greater sound of purpose.
Surprisingly coming from the scene that they originate, TOOA’s sound is fairly accessible considering it is drawing from both death and black metal; at times simultaneously. Much of this is down to its precise, contemporary sounding production which avoids the sludgey, dissonant feel; sharing more with some of their ‘cleaner’ counterparts. Much can also be pointed towards its more tuneful segments which take their cues from melodic death metal, albeit from the heavier spectrum such as the likes of Hate.
Not that is easy listening by any stretch, as it veers from guttural death metal and piercing black metal with a subtle but definite experimental nature, such as on ‘Al’ankabout’ with its slight Middle Eastern vibes and a grinding, doom like crawling passage. This album has several sides to it, but displays it all with impressive fluidity, and, whilst it may have easy to spot reference points at times, it all comes off in a worthy and formidable manner.
With its extreme metal ranging from several different roots and its bouts of experimentation – combined with its comparatively polished production – The Sword And The Dagger proves not only a vast improvement over its predecessor, but also potential to be a valid entry point for metal fans who are looking for something a little more challenging.
A solid album, and a good grounding, that could be the beginning of something all the more special.