ShrinesBlackened death with hints of post-metal, proto-punk, and occultism, London’s Shrines are nothing if not inventive. Their combination of emotion and rhythm paints a series of visceral sounds splattered with bright phrasing. Raw and uncompromising it reeks of their lust, self-loathing and comes loaded with the explosive aggression of their inner punk.

The first run-through of this experimental debut will have you scratching your head whilst marvelling at their adaptability. Allow the collision of soft melodics and brutalistic rhythms to wash over you and you’ll start to feel the dark concept begin to snag your mind. You’ll suddenly feel like the essential cog in their machine; the key to connecting the dots.

From the all-consuming introduction of rattling double-kick and ritualistic chanting that encompasses “Ariadne’s Thread” through to the otherwordly moaning and jagged rise-and-fall blitzkrieg that forms “Truth”, this debut album is one wild rollercoaster ride of genre-crossing that pitches and tosses you along whilst sneaking attacks from every conceivable angle. The jagged rhythms, slo-mo chugs and exploding cosmic experimentalism of tracks like “The Drowned” and “Eternal Return” feel like some bizarre Vreid / Wolves In The Throne Room / Mastodon musical collision.

In stark contrast, the majestic 6-minute centre-piece “Of The Wolf” is the key to the piece. Working like a finger to the lips it is dramatic, incisive and other-worldly. Inevitably it is the key that opens the door into understanding the band and the album. Without it the the thing wouldn’t have a mooring.

If drummer Daniel Blackmore is the tormenting villain of the piece then vocalist Sam Loynes (Voices, ex-Ackercocke) is equally as divisve. He switches between smooth melodics, antagonistic roars and pig squeals with apparent ease. Check out “Multitude Of Sin” for his full range – it is one track that really has fun bending genre boundaries. Staid, dyed-in-the wool, anodyne? Shrines are not.

It does feel slightly dissolute as a complete work and tends to ties itself in knots when simplicity is called for. However, when the backline tightens up, it provides the perfect canvas for the musical theatrics and vocal gymnastics to really make an impression.

(6.5/10 John Skibeat)