Prior to reviewing this I took the time to reacquaint myself with this USBM hordes second full length album ‘Sacraments of the Final Atrocity.’ Whilst it has its good points and a couple of stand out hymns I found it on the whole to be a bit clunky and cumbersome and somewhat too long for its own good. That is completely at odds with this new and shorter EP which certainly does not have time to stick around at get boring. The group have been around now since 1996 and although having just released the two albums have quite a few EP’s and a split and compilation behind them. Some of you on this side of the pond may remember a Euro tour when the group played with Demoncy and Krieg, my review of which reminds me that this was actually on 1st April 2004 and in London it was held at the small and now defunct Verge. It would seem that apart from a new guitarist the line up from this time remains the same and the band are currently at work perfecting album number three and looking for a new label. On the strength of this release they certainly deserve some attention.

The spell is cast by ‘Conjuring’ and the melodic weave of the guitars oozes the sort of Swedish black harmony of the likes of Lord Belial and Dissection. It is a path we have darkly trod before but that is not to say it is not played without style and finesse. The gates are flung open for ‘The Antigod’ and the drums now batter away and the pace is barbaric and hellacious. Singer Nyarlathotep’s venomous rasps have plenty of bite about them and the melody flows with aggression but plenty of harmonic grace about it. Lapse starts out at mid pace but has a hefty vibe about it dark and stifling, instruments drop out momentarily and then all hone back in with extremity and a certain amount of abrasive discord. The hook to the track when it arrives catches you a bit off guard and comes as a welcome as it brings a more linear feel to the number. Again I have to think of Sweden as there is a Watain like feel to this at times, not that this is a bad thing at all as it brings a complex, orthodox and mature approach to the sound.

The second side, well it would be if this were vinyl sees ‘Immortals’ blazing away and then suddenly slowing down showing the band have no problems playing a variety of speeds and are not all about simply brutalising you to pieces. When they do though it’s precisely handled and quite destructive with it. The central riff is catchy and the rasps and drums at full flurry have you banging your head and in my case slamming my fists on the desk and battering my keyboard. ‘Storms Of Destruction’ finishes this off. A slow uncoiling guitar harmony takes us in before the track explodes with a commanding melodic presence about it, picking you up, carrying you off and then spitting you out. Great this is how black metal should sound without pretention’ Listen out for some unexpected very gruff vocals on this one too provided by Chris ‘Woe’ Grigg.

So a nice formidable piece of black art. Nothing left to say here apart from the fact that I await news on the next album keenly.

(7/10 Pete Woods)