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ROOT (Hell Symphony) CD

It would be interesting to know how many bands did use the inverted pentagram with a slightly altered image of baphomet as a cover artwork and then one should sort out the good covers from the bad ones... For me the cover from ROOT's 'Hell Symphony' would definitely belong to the stack where you can find the bad drawings, but anyway it makes more sense to put the disc into the player instead of watching at the abortive cover. ROOT is a legendary band from the former Czech Republic, whose history goes back to the late 1980's when the band was founded by vocalist Big Boss. Originally released in 1992, 'Hell Symphony' was their second album, and here we have the re-released version from I Hate Records with new improved layout and three exclusive bonus cuts. Whilst the label info declares the album as one of the most evil and original sounding black metal recordings of all time, I wouldn't go that far. Well, ok, the song titles and the lyrically content is only about satan, but the music is a powerful blend that consists of elements from thrash, death, and black metal. I must admit that I never was a huge fan of all that satanic stuff and even ROOT played never any role in my musical life, but 'Hell Symphony' is a very powerful and cohesive album.

The bludgeoning arrangements unfold a dead black atmosphere and include a lot of brutal riffs. Here and there a few acoustic guitar passages enrich the entire mood of the album, and I really like the variety the band delivers here. One of the reasons why I never was interested in ROOT is their propensity to excessive dramatic, but fortunately 'Hell Symphony' is free from all that tendencies, although vocalist Big Boss can't completely restrain his excesses as in 'Satan'. Other songs like 'Asmodeus' or 'Leviathan' are driven by a strong Hellhammer influence, whilst the instrumental opener 'Belzebub' is a ripping combination of death and thrash metal. The excecution is always flawless, and the production is also good, albeit the drums are a little bit too loud in the mix, but the guitars have a nice crunchy sound. The bonus tracks have been recorded at several shows between 1999 and 2002, and have a good quality with the exception of 'Leviathan' that is more low-fi. Altogether this re-issue contains fifteen tracks, and it's a good start for newcomers and essential for fans of ROOT.