Missa Pro Defunctis
Review by Alex on August 4, 2019.
Formed in 2004, Reign in Blood brings their traditional blasphemous occult riddled black metal broomstick to the grand stage. Upon hearing the name of the band, Slayer automatically came to mind, and though I was expecting to hear some staples of such, I was in no way prepared for this masterclass effort. Reign in Blood has a lot going for them here, although a decade or so has passed, without putting out new material due to band members leaving and personal issues, the music tells of excellence and appears free of any negative hindrances due to the drawbacks encountered, if anything it has improved/matured with time to say.
I had no prior knowledge of the band; but through Reign in Blood's sophomore full length album Missa Pro Defunctis, I was more than eager to check out their earlier material; and after doing so I’m pleased to find yet another exceptional band hiding amidst the shadows of the underground. Many try to ‘wear their influences’ and turn out sounding like karaoke versions of whatever band/s they’re supposedly influenced by; so, upon seeing the band’s name, my stereotypes activated. However, the music here on Missa Pro Defunctis fucking rips! In addition to borrowing some of Slayer's early staples; some Bathory, and early Mayhem (Norway) influences can also be identified during the 41 minutes of Missa Pro Defunctis. These influences have shaped Reign in Blood's music into something that can be identified with ease. For a follow up to 2009’s Diabolical Katharsis, they have performed extremely well when factoring in the major gap between their debut full length effort and the current.
Upon hearing ‘Dawn of a Dying Soul’, immediately I could tell much more effort had been put into song structure, that in addition to having Reign in Blood's signature ways of speeding drums, saw an adhesive combination of 1st and second wave black metal with the Slayer-esque screeching guitars, the Gaahl inspired vocals (specifically those at Wacken 2008 e.g. 'Wound Upon Wound'), and the poke at early Mayhem riffs. When blended together, these borrowed resources form a recognizable but simultaneously diverse creation. I did also notice the similarity 'Black Hole' shares with Communion’s (Chile) ‘Funeral of Mercy’ by means of the leading guitar riff. Not 100% identical due to the faster drumming used but does have a bit in common with that song.
Please forgive the name dropping; however, it does not take away from the effort and music as a whole which is great. The way Reign in Blood blend so many styles into their songs that in turn would carry on making each entry memorable, tells of thoughtful musicianship. I find the hopping-around different tempos and rhythm changes to be an audible joy such as heard on ‘Metamorphose with the Universe’, ‘Missa Pro Defunctis’, and ‘Wolf Hour’. Vocally D.Raise’s voice is a stir of aggression and lament that works well in both the furious and melancholic entries on Missa Pro Defunctis. The riffs are plentiful, Malus and D. Raise put on quite a performance of tremolo picking and soloing with matching intensity conjured throughout the album. ‘Anima’ is more on the melancholic side of things but has a looming shadow of hostility clenched to it. And for someone that enjoys 1st wave black metal, Missa Pro Defunctis does not disappoint or sounds fatiguing due to its lengthy run; there is enough happening to keep the interest of the listener.
One entry’s theme appears to be connected to and derivative of tombstone titles, hence ‘Domus Mortuorum’ and practices carried out by the Catholic Church, ‘Missa Pro Defunctis’. Other songs can be interpreted with many variations but where the sound and aura of the recordings are concerned, I would be lying if I said they don't hold fast to the spirit of 1st-early 2nd wave of black metal. Missa Pro Defunctis is a gratifying listening experience that lasts and is one of the better first wave black metal releases of 2019; take and inspect any element used in the creation of this long overdue record and you'll find that Reign in Blood are a serious class of musicians.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10