With band members from Gorgoroth, Enslaved, Aeternus and Vulture Industries, and with further connections in the productions and mastering to Taake and Audrey Horne, this album is like Norwegian statement. There’s the added mystery of the band not having released anything since their second album “Thorns in Existence” for seven years.
Technically spooky is how I’d describe the start of this album. The triggering drums and gloomy sound suggest the expected journey through dark passageways. “Force of Our Fall” breaks into haunting and uncompromising black metal. There’s the customary rasping harshness and impure malevolence. Norwegian blackened metal is upon us. It does not stand still, but thunders on, with powerful and even majestic innuendo from every crevice. It ends with a chaotic wall of noise. “Gathering Storms” is less creepy and more straightforward in its attack. Guitars blaze as the maelstrom develops in an interesting way. Electronic sounds are used to grind out deep furrows, which work into slow burning horror on “Devils Pyre”. It is the meatiest of meaty chunks, spitting fierily, loudly and majestically through its eight minute course. Sulphur are not afraid to employ a vast range of sounds to enhance the fearsome atmosphere and do so on the crawly “Plague and Pestilence”. The drumming from Erik of Aeternus and Gorgoroth lineage is traditionally belligerent, and its shuddering and trembling add another facet to “Omens of Doom”, another ghastly and ghostly wall of black noise. A chorus is brought in to announce “the world is ending”. It’s layer upon layer of apocalypse. Oh, and horror too as the edgy “Rise of the Mushroom Cloud” demonstrates. Erik’s drum rumble like thunder. The mood picks up and for a few moments I thought I was listening to Enslaved’s “As Fire Swept Clean the Earth”. Its adrenaline rush and excitement give way to a reflective passage before returning to immaculate heights. “Rise of the Mushroom Cloud” was for me the most evocative track of this album. “Alt Svartner” has a similar Viking air, driving forward through the ball of flames which seem to emanate from it. It makes a fiery and rousing end to the album.
While paying homage to their Norwegian peers, Sulphur have created here a work of great technical accomplishment and immense atmospheres. It’s not unknown territory, and much of its content is as expected, but “Omens of Doom” is no less impressive.
(8.5/10 Andrew Doherty)