SailleSymphonic black metal is not necessarily something that gets me out of bed in the morning or even at any other hour of these godforsaken days. Far far too much dross clogs up the entire sub-genre that really needs a bottle of bleach and some rubber gloves to help poke it down the plug hole of life. But then along comes a band like Saille smashing the door down with their ferocious blend of myth-soaked black metal. It’s almost as if they want to turn over a new leaf for what I’m fairly sure to most black metal fans has become an embarrassing annex to the whole scene. Turn over the leaf then set fire to the entire book in a sacrificial pyre on a windswept hillside, that is. Clearly it takes a big man, and obviously several dark minded Belgians, to realise the error of your ways.

The first track sets off Ritu at full pelt and pretty much define the sound of the whole release – furious drumming, dense, adventurous song writing and layer upon layer of sound and scene-setting atmospherics. Saille is not exactly reinventing the scene, just doing it very well and showing up some of the others in the same field for the posing pretenders they really are. Topped off by the rhythmic chanting on Fhtagn and swirling horns and blistering guitars on Upon the Idol Of Corona and there is already enough to recommend this to any high-minded symphonic black metal fan and we’re not even half way through – or even reached the best of what is on offer here. The final three tracks is where all the action is really packed and you can see why it takes Saille so long to pull together their releases once they’ve hit the studio. A special mention to Runaljod which is perhaps the most melodic and most accessible but struck a chord to the extent it got at least double the number of airings from me than any of the other tracks.

Definitely something of Emperor and other bands like Anorexia Nervosa but also clear and sturdy progress from Saille’s debut release Irreversible Decay. Irreversible… had some great moments, like Plaigh Allais, but Ritu just has better songwriting, more depth and variation and better use of the additional instruments. This is not going to change the minds of the most fervently anti-symphonic black metal fans but hopefully even the most ‘kvlt’ among us would at least admit that this is the work of some pretty serious minds and serious talent. Ritu must rank among the best the genre has to offer at the moment and a represents a good start to the year. If things continue like this it’s going to be a good twelve months.

(8.5/10 Reverend Darkstanley)