I've always been interested in history. Bible history, world history, American history...you name it. As expected, I also dig music history. While I don't know as much as I'd like, I'm always up for learning more.
I've heard most of the Antestor story before, but a review along with some rare, unknown (at least to me) facts is a terrific surprise. Don't be confused. The Defeat of Satan is not a "new" Antestor release. Well, it is, but it's not new material. This disc is the CD release of Antestor's first two demos that were originally available only on cassette. The Defeat of Satan was the name of their first demo from 1991 and Despair was their second demo that was released in 1993; one year before recording the classic Martyrium.
Before I even listened to one note of this album, I couldn't help but notice the very eye-appealing packaging. This release was made possible by the new label Momentum Scandinavia, and they have impressed me greatly with this first release. This 999 copy limited edition CD has a great band history write-up, cool band photos, haunting graveyard pictures, picture CD, and lyrics to boot. They even stamp the copy number that you get when you buy it. I've got #171 if anyone is interested.
The history tells of Antestor being the band who started the whole northern European Christian extreme metal scene. About the time the Norwegian Black Metal Inner Circle was rearing it's ugly head, Antestor was stirring things up by playing extreme metal that spoke of hope in Jesus Christ and the deception of Satan. According to the write-up, Antestor received serious death threats from some of the major bands and key players in the scene. It goes on to tell the release history of the band, which is extremely strange seeing as how all four of their releases (at least to the general public on a worldwide scale) have been released in reverse order: The Return of the Black Death (1998) first, then Martyrium (1994) second, then the demos last. And even on this re-release, the 1993 demo Despair shows up first while The Defeat of Satan from 1991 shows up last. Anyways...just thought that was pretty unique.
Musically, the band labels themselves as sorrow metal. This is pretty accurate due to their haunting and depressing music, that actually sounds very sorrowful. To describe it somewhat differently, The Defeat of Satan is doomy death metal with some black influences. The pace is not always slow, but there is a lot of heavy plodding music that rarely gets above mid-paced.
The vocals are a deathly growl with hints of black shrieks occasionally. If you were into the Martyrium style more than The Return of the Black Death, than this will be more up your alley. Production-wise, this album is not great by any stretch of the imagination, but for demos, I'm not complaining one bit. You've just gotta remember, these are demos not professional releases, so you're gonna get demo quality production. However, I feel that the production is perfect to display the history and underground sound of early Antestor. It almost gives it a more sorrowful and haunting feel.
Personally, I prefer the Despair demo more, but The Defeat of Satan was not anything to despair about (sorry, couldn't resist!). The big differences are that The Defeat of Satan songs tend to be longer and slightly less in quality.
My take on all of this is that if you love Antestor, you must get this release. I've thoroughly enjoyed every second of this disc and it makes me even more excited to hear Antestor's next release of new material. As I said, this is limited to 999 copies, so don't wait around forever or you'll miss out and regret it as you search endlessly on Ebay trying to find one at an affordable price. (Review by Matt)