Autokrator – Hammer of Heretics (Krucyator Productions)

Thursday, 5th April 2018
Rating: 7.5/10

Autokrator had already proven with 2016’s The Obedience of Authority that they weren’t going to be content with releasing the same old thing with each album. Making some drastic moves from what was arguably some tough listening with their self-titled debut into something with more dynamic, it should come with no surprise that Hammer of Heretics sees the band continuing to perfect their sound. But don’t worry, it’s still just as massive and abrasive as ever.

Hammer isn’t such a drastic leap as much as more of an overall refinement. The industrial-laden sound is quite dense and not accessible in the least. But in slowing things down further, the band seems to have found their groove. The atmospheric and haunting moments give some proper breathing room (though one does wonder if “Interlude” gives a little too much), and the downtuned riffs match the industrial sound well, giving the band the sonic vibes of a tank, lumbering along and knocking down all in its path. The setup is truly that simple – Autokrator lay out punishing riffs, sometimes at blitzkrieg speeds (the opening of the title track), sometimes at lumbering crawls (“Inquisitio-Denunciatio-Exceptio”), but engage with such a bleak and suffocating atmosphere that one can’t help but be pulled into it all. Lastly, the production has been cleaned up a bit (though still quite muddy), which helps in getting more out of the music in those initial listens and provides a nicer pairing with the ambience while still maintaining the band’s overtly evil feeling.

Autokrator continues to better themselves with each release, and Hammer of Heretics gives an ample beating, albeit one that is somewhat easier to remember later on. Those who enjoy the murkier and subterranean approach to death metal should give this one some attention.

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