German death metal group Atrocity complete its trilogy with Okkult III. Okkult treads the line between commercial accessibility and uncompromising brutality on this record. Songs will shift from grooving riffs reminiscent of Machine Head and Slipknot to pulverizing blast beats. Opening salvo “Desecration of God” starts with distant chanting, somber piano and a haunting choir that sets a disquieting mood. The demonic symphonic samples are interrupted by screeching guitars that build slowly to a fast paced tempo. Guitarists Micki Richter and Luc Gebhardt avoid the faster pace of Witchery and Slayer and keep it somewhat safe.
Things speed up on “Fire Ignites,” complements of drummer Joris Nijenhuis blast beats and double bass. However, the intensity never reaches the heights of Witchery or Immolation. “Priests of Plague” has a sick galloping riff that drives the song like a hellsteed through the inferno. The staccato riffing and brief lead during the bridge adds to the track’s excitement. “Malicious Sukkubus” commences with a satanic choir that heightens the moods before the descending riff pulls us back to hell. Okkult successfully fuse black, symphonic and death metal on this track, and it is no wonder this is a single.
The band finally speeds things up on “Lycanthropia” with its thrashing main riff and grooving chorus interspersed with blast beats. We even get a brief breakdown on this track. “Cypka” is another notable track with its disturbing introduction and lyrical matter, that of serial killer Jozef Cyppek. The drumming feels like your skull is being repeatedly bashed with a bat. The bridge is briefly subdued before the guitars and drums pummel you for the remainder of the song.
Okkult III increases the intensity throughout its 44 minute duration. The first third of the album is a little more accessible than the latter two thirds. However, this is not a pop-metal album by any means. Alexander Krull barks and screams on all 10 tracks. However, the band steps up the musicianship with more rhythm changes, speed and guitar leads. This album serves as an introduction to extreme metal as the song structures are not unorthodox or too fast.
Death metal fans can expect a satisfying listen with Okkult III. I initially had doubts, but those faded after a few tracks. Atrocity set the pace for death metal to kickstart 2023 and other bands now have to follow it. One could say Atrocity paved the road to hell with good intentions with this album.
Okkult III will be released on January 20th, 2023