Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Suicidal Angels say a Profane Prayer

Five years on from their release of Decades of Aggression, fans’ prayers have been answered as Suicidal Angels have descended from the thrash metal skies and delivered their eighth record, Profane Prayer.

The opening track ‘When Lions Die’ is a straight-up in-your-face thrash track not for the faint-hearted. If the music isn’t a grim reminder of what’s to come then the album cover says it all. The illustration of a one-eyed angel praying with clasped hands stabbed by a dagger over a blood-soaked book is like reliving your worst fears, entering into a divided world dominated by violence in which “Death and hope are holding hands” and one can feel helpless “And in the night your bed sheet piss”. Nick Melissourgos expels any bottled rage left in his system with screams like captains barking orders at their soldiers in battle while some nail-biting riffs and skull-shattering tempos set the tone for the next 48 minutes of aggression.

‘Crypts of Madness’ picks up the pace with no signs of slowing down as Suicidal Angels aim to wear the listener out to the very end. Their long-term connection with Kreator appears to have had an influence on the sound as perceived by the prevalent teutonic thrash guitar tones, vocal phrasing and drumming patterns, which suit the flow of Profane Prayer nicely. Orpheas Tzortzopoulous beats his drum kit to a pulp, tidily executing complex blast beats. When combined with some ruthless guitar work by Nick (who also plays) and Gus Drax, it becomes a wonderful wall of noise. The vocals have an authoritative presence throughout the album and perfectly match the furious emotions evoked by the shouts hitting your ears like a knockout punch by Mohamed Ali.

‘Purified by Fire’ continues the headbanging rampage. By this point, the album is taking shape with some listeners begging for a break due to its intensity. However, Suicidal Angels couldn’t care less as they whipped out more magic tricks by incorporating elements of slam/beatdown such as slowing down tempos in the outros or mid-song like a pre-moshpit breakdown. The official clip starring a masked monk burning a dead embalmed body only for it to resurrect once set on fire is more than enough to signal their mean intent to defy traditional beliefs of what’s good and bad in a way that your true soul can only be “Purified by Fire”

At last, the long-awaited breather arrives as Suicidal Angels momentarily take their foot off the throttle with an 8 min slow headbanger ‘Deathstalker’ featuring Sakis Tolis (Rotting Christ), Ethimis Karadimas and Fotis Benardo (both Nightfall). Despite it not being a fast track, the heaviness of the riffs and force of the drums prevent boredom which works well in extreme metal due to the nonstop aggression. Just like Bergmann’s 1957 movie Seventh Seal in which Death plays chess with a medieval knight, ‘Deathstalker’ explores the merciless nature of time confronting our destiny “Time is a curse, with Death they chess”.  

The production on Profane Prayer is rock solid which is a key factor in what makes this album enjoyable as each instrument is never overpowered and you can clearly distinguish every detail because they’re given space to thrive without drowning out one another. For instance, the dynamics may be loud from start to finish but the extreme attack of the drums and guitars doesn’t become an unbearable experience for the listener.

‘The Fire Paths of Fate’ closes out Profane Prayer like a grand finale signalling the end of an epic chapter with a delightful intro where Suicidal Angels dive into their Greek roots, using melodic chants and a santur to strengthen the emotional connection. All is calm so far but when the whole band kicks in and Nick lets his desperate cries ring out for one last time, this adventure isn’t going to have a smooth ending. It’s the longest track of the album clocking in at just over nine and a half minutes, full of unexpected twists made of sudden tempo changes including lengthy instrumental interludes to suck you into a vortex of musical ambiguity. 

It’s within those segments that listeners can reflect on the diversity of the lyrical content which varies from existential dread “Awakened in the night by your own screams” and the inevitable consequences of your actions “There will be no father sing some tears when you’re gone”.

Suicidal Angels have released one of the best albums of their rich catalogue which will almost certainly win the hearts of die-hard fans of this genre and the Athenians have wrapped it with plenty of layers which can only be appreciated with a thorough listen.

Profane Prayer was released on March 1st 2024 via Nuclear Blast Records.

Pedro Felippe
Pedro Felippe
Metalhead since the stone age. Always bash the crap out of my drum kit and am an avid gig goer. I massively identify myself within the metal community as the sense of belonging is unrivalled.

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Five years on from their release of Decades of Aggression, fans’ prayers have been answered as Suicidal Angels have descended from the thrash metal skies and delivered their eighth record, Profane Prayer. The opening track ‘When Lions Die’ is a straight-up in-your-face thrash track not...Suicidal Angels say a Profane Prayer