Review by Felix on April 30, 2019.
It is always nice to get a confirmation and the here presented album confirms my old thesis that Swedish musicians are somewhat special. Funeral Mist's new work is nothing less than a very competent and brutal statement that black metal is still as vital as it can be. Aggression is its main ingredients, but the music cannot be reduced on a single emotion. Misanthropy or vileness are omnipresent as well. Lone wolf Arioch (Mortuus) doubtlessly holds many aces up his sleeve and he loves to play with the audience.
For example, "Naught but Death" tries to fool the listener with a short rock riff at the beginning, but the agonized screams, the levelling guitar lines and the sinister mid-tempo rhythm transform the song into the little brother of Marduk's "The Blond Beast". That's no big deal, somewhere I have read that the entire album sounds like Marduk 2.0, and this is rather a big compliment than a criticism. Among other things, it indicates the singularity of Arioch's / Mortuus' voice, his firm grasp on the aesthetics of black metal and it says a lot about his authenticity.
"Cockatrice" shows different facets as well. Surreal sounding high-speed guitars characterize the beginning, a genre-typical part follows afterwards, but don't thank that now everything goes on as usual. A keyboard sets in and gives the number another direction. It almost sounds like an ambient experiment of Varg Vikernes (but don't worry; while Varg never comes to an end, the here integrated calm part is pretty short). Indeed, there are some surprising twists and turns on this album. "Within the Without" offers frantic blast beats and extremely violent leads, but the inferno is abruptly yet fittingly interrupted by a sinister break with some church bells in the background. However, many sections of Hekatomb emit an infernal aroma and further surprising elements show up, for example the voice of a little boy who fights with the merciless noise of the guitars. I don't want to scream "innovative idea", nevertheless, it is at least an unusual detail - and it works.
Both production and artwork underline the evil appeal of the music. The mix leaves enough room for the dictatorial voice of Arioch. He takes care of each and every word of the lyrics. Each syllable is full of emotions like scorn, hate and damnation. Of course, the raging, intensive and restless guitars shape songs like the brutal "Shedding Skin", but the vocals have an equal influence on the final outcome. And this outcome tells its own tale, because it shows that Marduk 2.0 sounds as strong as the original Marduk - and all songs have their own individuality, just cast an eye on the ecclesiastical background choirs in "Metamorphosis". This pretty good number is definitely not among my personal highlights, but it scores with this identity creating element, while the following "Hosanna" could be an extremely strong leftover of "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" (without Attila's vocals, of course). But don't take the last statement too seriously, Hekatomb has nothing in common with a collection of outtakes. The opposite is true. It constitutes another fascinating document of pure black metal and every supporter of the sub-genre is invited to join its inferno.
Rating: 9 out of 101.22k