Black metal is a wonderfully weird and oftentimes nebulous thing. Even nowadays the bands who pay tribute to old school black metal masters will periodically find themselves venturing off into far prettier sounding territory. Baptism are a perfect example of that with ferocious riffs turning into epic suites. Their latest offering V: The Devil's Fire captures the spirit of the modern black metal sound - showing us some wonderfully evil stuff and counterbalancing it with music that reflects on a very different part of the human condition.
Obviously orthodox black metal has always had a special place in my heart and has had an influence on me that changed my life forever. That being said - I've also always loved bands who could fuse that with the sounds of my musical heroes, groups like Alcest and Downfall Of Gaia. Baptism manage to do this on V: The Devil's Fire with no pretensions of glory, nor any sense of unnecessary bombast. When they come searing out of the gate they want to make you suffer. Yet they couch within this old school fury a powerful sense of melody, an understanding of songwriting that few of their peers can match - and this is what makes them truly great.
There is a lot more to Baptism than meets the eye. With V: The Devil's Fire they have created something that you need to come back to again and again to understand. Regular readers of this blog know that Season Of Mist has been killing it lately with their releases, and this album is no exception. It's more and more rare these days to find a group who so perfectly reveal tortured madness of this kind of music. The fact that they can bring it into something greater is just icing on the cake. These guys are the black metal masters we need.
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