For those with a hankering for unrelenting slabs of the darkest evil fathomable within heavy music it seems that Liverpool is the place to be right now – with the likes of Crypt Lurker and Coltsblood decimating ear drums and laying waste to crowds nationwide, it seems only fitting for a third band to throw their hat into the arena, and this comes from second-wave black metal band Ninkharsag (In Sumerian mythology, Ninhursag or Ninkharsag was a mother fertility goddess of the mountains, identified by temple hymns as the ‘true and great lady of heaven’ and often accompanied by an ‘omega’ motif for her omega-shaped hair).
Starting out as a solo project back in 2009, Ninkharsag expanded to four members two years later, attracting the attention of Candlelight, who are releasing the band’s debut ‘Blood of Celestial Kings’. This is a debut that’s both powerful and daring – sharing equal parts ferocity and complexity. Opening track ‘The Sicarii’ jumps straight in, with no airs or graces, it’s a razor sharp blast of black metal that takes no prisoners. What’s most interesting about the music, however, is how audible the bass guitar is – this is especially apparent on tracks such as ‘The Essential Salts of Human Dust’ – while the guitars are having the very life strangled from their fret boards, the bass guitar is high enough in the mix to be heard doing its own thing. As odd as it sounds, it packs a certain groove into the music that manages to fit perfectly with the tenacity of the blast beats.
The vocals are another striking feature of this record – a half bark, half shriek that carries certain hints of Wolves in the Throne Room without stumbling into hipster/”we heart the forest” territory. Everything is rounded off rather nicely with robust yet organic sounding production – you can really hear that there’s genuine, unpolished song writing at play, but every aspect is still clear enough to be able to hear each instrument individually. This is a potent first effort and one that will Ninkharsag quickly become favourites within the black metal scene of the UK.
(9/10 Amgela Davey)