BlackGrailThe accompanying promotional information reads like a novel and basically tells us that this Chilean band play black metal of the bestial and occult variety as they see fit to purge our souls with blackened monstrosities in the form of seven songs on this debut. Bordering the primitiveness of two decades ago this act is the reincarnation of everything foul about black metal in its embryonic days.

Initially on this sonic sermon “Diálogo Entre Arcanos” is a lengthy intro with various befouling shrieks and high pitched guitar work that leads into “La Ciudadela De Shiva” and immediately my thoughts centre around Marduk’s very early “Dark Endless” material which had a proto black metal sound with obligatory echoes and throat slashing vocals. Regurgitating a sound that was done 20 plus years ago may conjure up images of long lost times when black metal truly was dangerous but it also fails to spew out anything remotely new for listeners to think it was worth the purchase.

The drum sound on this release is highly emphasised and for a change I can say that it’s actually too dominant on the mix compared to my usual moan that the snare isn’t loud enough or the kick drum sounds like a pillow is being hit. That emphasis enables the songs to seem far more violent than they are as the guitar work harnesses a black thrash approach that is a little tepid and lacking the glacial potency required to play this sort of stuff making a tune like “Iluminación Oscura” lack in power. As the intro piece that starts “Plegaria Catártica” finally evaporates the song possesses a starkness that renders the song deficient of that bone crumbling ear piercing guitar riffing that the genre absolutely needs to make it sound genuine. Most of the tunes clock the seven minute mark but failed to engage me from start to finish due to repetition and a vocal mix that doesn’t allow the fierceness to reveal itself enough when required. If you’re an established black metal fan then this will probably come across as lightweight material but if you’re a fanatic for that nekro, true kvlt sound then this will be perfect for you to lie down in your coffin to.

(6/10 Martin Harris)