I had heard and read good things about this New Zealand / Scottish band so my hopes were high. To be sure this album, which is basically seven hefty untitled chunks of black metal, carves out its own world and atmospheres through is weighty soundscapes and surroundings.
Sweeping, ringing and nasty black metal vomits forth. To accompanying echoes and screams, a fast-paced and blackly melodic assault introduces us to this world. The vocals sound like they come from the swamp. Powerful and authoritative, it works its way steadily through several movements and dark transformations. Ambiance is not to be denied. And so we move into a relentless wall of overwhelming noise. It’s blazing black metal. A word which kept coming back to in my mind as I listened to this album is “majestic”. A pervasive and extended scream opens up the third piece. Black and dingy, slow and creepy, murderous – it’s all these things. Then it picks up. It’s not quite a whirlwind as Barshasketh exercise considerable control. Creepiness returns, followed by the ringing majesty. An air of repressed darkness leads to the intervention of doom-like tones. As the sixth piece ploughs on mercilessly, I felt the presence of warriors in swamp-infested caverns. Desperate cries are then superseded by a hypnotic drum beat. Meanderingly irrepressible power takes over before dying out.
“Ophidian Henosis” is an accomplished work of black metal but whilst I appreciated its technical quality and atmospheres, I seemed to have an immunity to it as if the space which this album should fill had already been filled. I usually have the space for atmospheric blackness but on a personal level it didn’t take me to new places.
(7/10 Andrew Doherty)