[Review] Renascent – Praise of the Lord God Almighty
Renascent, a band originally from Finland but currently the United States of America, as well as whose genre is reasonably debatable. The Metal Archives would have them listed as Melodic Death Metal, but under the Similar Artists section the only four bands are listed Antestor; Cerimonial Sacred; Divine Symphony and Vaakevandring. Wikipedia would have them called Unblack Metal (Black Metal) comparing them to Dimmu Borgir and Old Man’s Child. However, I do think Spirit of Metal has the closest thing to an accurate label of this band’s genre, simply put: Symphonic Death Black. I think it’s clear that Renascent cannot be Melodic Death Metal as most fans would call them, despite the guitar work usually being fairly melodic; I would personally pin them down as Symphonic Blackened Death Metal – which is basically what Spirit of Metal said but with better phrasing.
Praise of the Lord God Almighty is this band’s third release and second full length; it has been an eleven year wait since Renascent’s last album to get here. The band has undergone some lineup changes since, seeing members like band founder Jani Stefanovic leave the band. This could have caused concerns amongst fans because of Jani’s deep involvement with the scene and the band, but I do believe Renascent has really pulled it off anyway. This 2016 album is their heaviest to date; it also has the best production of any release before. Since Jani’s departure Rolf Pilve filled the spot on drums temporarily. I must say Pilve does pretty well; he is even faster than Jani’s work on Through Darkness. The drums on Demons’ Quest and Through Darkness had a raw, unprocessed and non-quantized feel to them (not a bad thing), but on Praise of the Lord God Almighty the drums have a higher level of production and really solid clarity (definitely a good thing). The actual current full time drummer of Renascent, Joonas Heikkinen only plays the drums on one track in the album – Circus of Flesh, a re-done song from Demons’ Quest. Eero Tertsunen does all the guitar work and vocals here, as well as post production. One flaw on this album would be the distortion used on Eero’s vocals. Whereas on Through Darkness, Eero didn’t have distortion on his vocals and he did a good job there too. The vocal distortion does become less noticeable as the album goes along, it would have been better if there were none. However, some of the time that same flaw can add to the heaviness of the album. The guitar work is tight, even a bit down tuned and there are a good amount of solos played with proficiency throughout the album. Voitto Rintala’s bass seems to be mostly a harmonization of the guitars; it fills the space effectively but does not really stand out. Now we get to a prominent theme of the album, Mikaela Akrenius’ keyboards, seeing how that one member enables the band to carry around the label of symphonic. To be clear, the symphonic elements don’t consume the music, all the instruments and vocals are reasonably balanced in the mix. The keyboards do create a driving atmosphere, in rare moments sometimes similar to lesser known GeistKrieg, although I am sure there is no connection. Keyboards are generally well placed, accentuating guitar riffs and adding leads, as well as becoming minimal in the more brutal sections of songs. There is one song where the keyboard has a lead that sounds a bit obnoxious and out of place in the song In the Shadow of the Almighty, otherwise the keys fit like a glove on this album. Lyrically, I can respect just how straightforward this band is, leaving no doubt in listeners’ minds as to where this band stands with their blatantly Christian lyrics.
Overall has it been worth the eleven year wait? I’d say so, yes. The new Renascent is the next step of this band’s evolution and I believe they are walking in the right direction. I do hope they do not make us all wait another eleven years though.
I would give this album 84 out of 100.