Brazilian death metal band Rebaelliun may not be quite as well known as Krisiun or some of the other bands from the country that emerged in the mid-90s, but they’ve arguably been able to match the same ferocity and technical prowess on each of their full lengths. 1999’s Burn the Promised Land and 2001’s Annihilation offered a similar blitzkrieg of blast beats and extremely fast riffing that rarely let up for a second, but after that Rebaelliun would go dormant for nearly fifteen years. Comeback effort The Hell’s Decrees showcased that the current incarnation hadn’t lost any aggression or speed, but there was a shift towards a more dynamic and less one-dimensional attack. That’s been continued on Under the Sign of Rebellionseven years later, with a great balance of hyper speed blasting, killer solos, and some slower grooves that shake things up. It’s not a radical departure, but it refines this veteran band’s approach to a razor-sharp level.
Rebaelliun offers a short intro that utilizes some darker orchestration, but as soon as “All Hail the Regicide” kicks in the intensity shoots through the roof and doesn’t let up until Under the Sign of Rebellion has come to an end. This track gives you a great idea of what to expect from these guys, as it comes roaring in with fast, scorching riffs and drums that blast away with the force of a tank. But around the minute and a half point a guitar solo ups the intensity even further with a more technical slant as it offers plenty of twists and turns in a short period of time. As you make your way further through Under the Sign of Rebellionyou’ll find that Rebaelliun is able to keep a good flow between the fast and slow parts, moving over to crushingly heavy mid-tempo grooves and then back over to fast blasting in a very precise and technical manner. Compared to their earlier efforts these transitions are a bit less unpredictable and feel much more dynamic, with songs like “Fear the Infidel” and “Light Eater” standing out on repeat listens. For newcomers, stylistically there are similarities to Krisiun but I also hear quite a bit of Vader too, as there are some thrashier leanings woven into the death metal attack. Admittedly while the first half shakes things up with varied tempos and some killer leads and solos, I did find that the second half blurred together as some similar patterns emerged and individual tracks after “Light Eater” didn’t stand out quite as much. But given the technicality of the attack and reasonable thirty-eight-minute run time, Under the Sign of Rebellion remains an enjoyable listen from front to back.
Long-time vocalist/bassist Lohy Fabiano tragically passed away last year, but it seems that Rebaelliun had already completed work on this album before that happened so Under the Sign of Rebellion features his last performance. If you’ve heard Annihilation or The Hell’s Decrees this should give you a good idea of what to expect, as Lohy retains that same low-pitched growl that towers above the instrumentation. He has one of those growls that’s enunciated well enough to easily make out the lyrics, and the added clarity does work to the band’s advantage. Throughout the album you get some backing screams and slightly higher ranges that makes things hit even harder, and the intensity consistently matches what the rest of the group is doing. There are also slight variations to the pitch that keep things from becoming repetitive, and overall, this final performance showcases Lohy at his best.
Recovering from the loss of a front-man is always hard, but it seems like Rebaelliun will continue to press onwards as they recruited Bruno Añaña on bass and vocals following Lohy’s passing. But in the meantime, they’ve returned from a multi-year hiatus with another strong showing that has plenty of blistering riffs and solos to keep any death metal fan satisfied. The second half does run together a bit, but the technicality and quality of the songwriting here has kept me coming back to this one more often than some of the other death metal released around the same time. They may not have the name recognition of Krisiun, but Rebaelliun is definitely worth paying attention to. Under the Sign of Rebellion is available from Agonia Records.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg