TaranAs a black metal die hard, I hang my head in shame at having never been initiated into Taran’s filthy world of black metal, despite them having been around since 2002, and including members of Arkona (Polish black metal variety, not Russian pagan metallers!).

The Polish black metal troupe’s latest offering starts ominously with a rumbling background overlaid with what sounds like blades being sharpened before a great medieval battle (at least that was what image it conjured up to me) before a piano joins in, adding to the dark brooding atmosphere, until all goes quiet. Unceremoniously, the silence is shattered by a blistering guitar solo competing for attention with ferocious drumming, laying down an unambiguous statement of intent for what is to follow. After its vicious opening, “Reign of Hellfire” does not let up and is a lesson in battering black metal. “Dominus Muscarum” continues and does not let up the intensity this of pure, unencumbered black metal.

As the aural assault continued, I was increasingly impressed with the musicianship on display, and the band manage to combine melody with brutality to great effect. On “opioly 2014 A.Y.P.S.” the rampage slows just a little, allowing the melody to shine through, and leads nicely into the intro of “The Black Mark”, which Armagog rasps over before another unrelenting barrage is unleashed. Brief respites in pace during the track only serve to emphasise the velocity of the rest of the track and the juxtaposition works really well.

Drac (bass) and Zaala (Drums) do a sterling job holding all of this together and at times it feels as though it is close to degenerating into chaos, but the solid rhythm section are more than up to it and provide a relentless backdrop for Armagog (Vocals) and Nechrist (guitars) to showcase their talents.

The album continues with “…Of Sin” attempting to rip off the listener’s face, and leaves a lasting impression before the album’s outro.

The CD closes with a cover of Immortal’s “Unsilent Storms in the North Abyss”, which keeps up the quality and is great to hear, but placing it after the outro takes the edge off the atmosphere which had been built up during the album, but I’m being pedantic and behaving like a spoilt brat. This is top quality black metal release and I would urge anyone with an interest in extreme metal to hunt it down. In the meantime, I’m off to search out their back catalogue……

(9.5/10 Andy Pountney)