This bands debut, “In Bloodline With The Snake”, from 2009 was a worthy if predictable addition to the German black metal scene with harsh frostbitten rawness creating the purist view of black metal. Some four years later and we are treated to the sophomore that sees the band enjoying improved musicianship and far more ambitious song writing that covers nearly 70 minutes of music over 11 compositions. Now albums that venture beyond the 45 minute mark for me (remember C90 tapes, that’s my benchmark) tend to bring about sighs of resignation and almost always make me place albums like this to the bottom of the digital listening pile. Being brutally honest Chaos Invocation could easily have stripped 15 minutes from this album to no detriment whatsoever and in fact it probably would sound far more intense and rigorous for it.
Opening with piano and keyboards is formulaic I guess but is superseded by the introduction of gentle guitar work that fades in, gradually morphing to a ruthless riff and blast. Vocally there are no surprises either with throat scraping shrieks and croaks enough to shatter glass. Tunefully the band likes to drop the pace tangentially for nice lead work which fits well. I did detect the odd riffing style like Dissection but really this sits well within the realms of Watain and other associated modernised black metal pounders. Some of the melodic passages found on “The Mirror” are like Agrypnie and Imperium Dekadenz and even Rotting Christ, but generally this album is far more aggressive than those bands. “Beyond Coming” has an eerie nightmarish guitar piece with backing guitar fuzz creeping around menacingly before ultimately yielding to the barbarous riff and blast and here my reference compass swings to retro and back to the 90s with Emperor registering maximally. There are more Emperor and Dissection attributes on “Hypertoxication” which possesses the violence expected but seems to fall short in actually ingraining in the memory enough to think I will play that again.
As I said earlier the main issue this album has is its length which in terms of quantity maybe required for value for money but in terms of quality it suffers with each tune being drawn out expansively as far as possible. The best songs are those that sit on the five minute mark such as the Mardukesque “Funeral Messiah” which is viciously scathing before one of the longest tracks “Walking In His City” is aired. The pleasant melodic guitar work is very nice, conventional yes, and accompanied by moaning screamed vocals like early Bethlehem. As a tune the length works just about over its nine minutes plus duration with each section of the song welded icily into the next as the influx of double bass drums supports the heaviness. The clean virtually pagan like vocals were a real surprise and work well in a contemporary way that makes this that bit more accessible and dare I say it enjoyable all the more for them. The inclusion of the atmospheric piece two thirds in is a smooth calculated move making the song that bit more epic. Closing the album is “Into Living Darkness” which is packed with blasting hostility just to remind you that this is a primal black metal album overall and not a sweet melodic one.
( 7.5/10 Martin Harris)