My poor attention span groaned inwardly when I saw the duration of this third album by Greek black metallers Acrimonious, an act unfamiliar to me but not any longer as this opus is one of staggering brilliance. Confidence pours from this album as “Incineration Initiator” starts the expedition into a world of colossal bleakness as the slow permeating riff drills into the song followed by a purposeful double kick and eerie, almost unearthly atmosphere is revealed. Maintaining the initial slower pace the nine-minute opener gathers momentum in subtle but noticeable intensifications that sees the song escalate towards a snare roll and fantastic riff bringing about early conjurations by Behemoth.

“The Northern Ritual” changes tact towards an archetypal black metal structure with the blast snare being relentless before adopting a Marduk like poise when the pace shifts downwards enabling the power to be stacked up when the double kick floods in. Harshly sang and with venomous intent, each syllable is spat like caustic toxin alongside the potent riffing on “Damnation’s Bells” which has a 1349 style; high velocity maliciousness with great riff break after a minute as the track slices into the listener with unmitigated maniacal glee. The dynamics of this album are formidable as the band is unafraid to branch out into more experimental segues but what the band does best is sonic annihilation as on “Qayin Rex Mortis” which has yet another awesome riff, that initially sits alone before being accompanied by the rest of the band in an early Emperor like stance. As the track evolves the riffing adopts a punk or even hardcore fuelled vitriol which if you listen to a lot of black metal you’ll know exactly what I mean. The tune barrels remorselessly onwards with that riff weaving through the song like a propagating virus to full blown symptomatic oblivion even when the song slows down into remission at one point.

Following superbly is “Ominous Visions Of Nod” which blasts in without warning as the snare blast is rampant and impenitent as a layer of double kick gushes into to soften the riffing knives enabling the song to be heavier and denser as the production on this album is excellent being stripped raw but possessing a gelid aura. Slowing things down “Stirring The Ancient Waters” begins with a slow undulating riff with accompanying drum fills and excellent bass riffing underpinning the guitar riffs which suddenly adopt desolate frost bitten vocals that morph into something more tormented and ghoulish with a slight echo to great effect. Closing the album is the awesome doublet of “Litany Of Moloch’s Feast” and “Thaumitan Crown” and even though they’re standalone songs the flow from the former to the latter is breath-taking. Starting slowly the former rumbles along effortlessly with an asphyxiating double kick rolling through it and the bass stamping a unique authority on the song and the album overall. As the tune gathers momentum, the claustrophobic atmosphere is lifted slightly to reveal an excellent lead fleetingly. Towards the songs finale the slowness pervades until “Thaumitan Crown” explodes from the speakers and both the songs could have been one tune for me as the sonic debris left after the initial detonation is one of careering drums initially. Slowing down, the song bears a catchy almost Celtic Frost like riff, before being unceremoniously obliterated for the track to march unerringly on with a savage blasting speed. The multiple changes in the song are endless and wilfully addictive as this release has been catapulted to number one on my best black metal albums of 2017 so far and will take an unbelievably good album to surpass it.

(9/10 Martin Harris)