FTVA solo artist from Sina is the inspiration behind this black metal band from Iran. After ten years behind the scenes, he released “Darkness vs. Light, The Perpetual Battle” (2011) and has now followed it up with this one. The Vastland is Ancient Persia but it is clear that the ethos of Norwegian black metal applies too. Indeed, members of Myrkskog and Keep of Kalessin have joined Sina for an appearance at this year’s Inferno Fest.

“The Ahmiran Wizard”, referring to the Persian religious concept of the destructive spirit, opens up the album. Transforming, sweeping and dark, this merciless and cold track seeks to lay musical waste to all around it. There’s a combination of thunder and tension. The timing is immaculate, as it breaks twice for a brief but chilling guitar line. The Norwegian connection is apparent. “Call of the Mountain Battle” isn’t much of a title but its impact is phenomenal. Again relying on fiery darkness, supported by hanging creepiness and deadly, spoken words, it employs lulls and build-ups in the drive towards majestic domination. Constant fire would not engender the sense of disorder and chaos that such explosions create.

It seems that Sima has spent all those years in the isolation of Iran building up his ire and creating his own piece of Norway through extreme metal compositions. “Darkness All Over the World” again kills us stone dead and from razor sharpness, coming back from behind to invade our minds. More screams and ugly growls support the imperious guitar assault of the title track. I couldn’t establish what “Kamarikan” is or is referring to, but I can confirm that its musical incarnation sounds nasty and evil. Guitars siren as Sina spits out his hatred and bile. “Night Sentinel” has an air of sweeping desolation as it starts but overwhelming storms threaten to take over, eventually creeping up and surrounding us with the customary imperious riff. Melody is always on the brink, as is epicness, but Sina constantly manages to wriggle away from conformity and finds ugliness and here, ends on the melancholically sweeping desolation that it began with. “Realms of Kadaver Sovereign” reeks of ghastly horror, and finds levels of anger and intensity in its steady progress. The scene stands still, and perhaps predictably, bursts into explosive rage before slowing down for further reflection and erupting into a final burst of violence. “Vortex of Empty Cosmos” puts us in our place one last time. There’s an intensely melancholic and emotive blast in the middle, enriched by a dominant and epic drum and guitar section which takes us towards the end of this darker than dark statement of intent.

I suppose a purist would say that this is just an imitation of Norwegian black metal of an extreme kind but this is still remarkable and powerful stuff from an unexpected quarter. It’s sad to say, but this sounds like an embittered, creative man who’s spent years in a darkened room. The atmospheres are horrifying and ghastly. Destruction and nihilistic domination can be felt. Yet it’s epic too in its defiant tones. “Kamarikan” is a fine representation of black metal values.

(8/10 Andrew Doherty)