German black metal tends to conjure up the same common denominators in the form of Endstille, Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult, Nargaroth and Black Messiah et al, but there is a new addition to add to this commonly perceived saturated genre, and this one comes with a 20 year pedigree in tow. ‘Minas Morgul’ were conceived in 1997, and have released 5 full lengths prior to new album Kult.

We are instantly opened up to a grandiose soundtrack that is majestic in its deliverance, and there is pure malevolence oozing from every crevice in the makeup of this oeuvre. It is obnoxious in its deliverance and furnishes us with tracks which constitute an outing of sinful magnitude.

‘Kult’ teases us with a spoken word segment, which needs to be turned up a notch to create maximum impact, and this is played to a background of nimble black metal. Mid song, the vocals then kick into a more recognisable black metal style which is truly haunting in its liberation.

‘Ein Teil Von Mir’ is next up and it starts out with a pagan style acoustic intro and showcases a display of clean vocals rather than the howling screams expected from this band. I have never been a fan of clean vocals mixed into black metal, even when the Norwegian behemoths Dimmu Borgir use it, I have to cringe inside, and ‘Minas Morgul’ are no different here, they really should just stick to the one style which is tried and tested.

‘Abschied’ then fires back with fast riffing and thumping beats which create a monster of a track. The vocals kick in and are demonic in their delivery and it is all tied together with a pounding bass line.

‘Bevor Ich Gehe’ puts on display more of a melody and somehow portrays more of a whimsical telling of a tale, if you can ever achieve that in the black metal world. It seems more light hearted than the tracks which lay before it, and it somehow seems to lift the mood, before it comes crashing back down to earth when nur eine kugel lets rip.

‘Nur Eine Kugel’ switches the pace and has intermittent speeds intertwined with the musicianship, it keeps mixing it up from crunching and blasting face ripping, to slow paced drums which appear a little lost and not synced with the rest of the band.

The piece is then closed with ‘XX’ which is all out tirade of guitars and drums and they seem to want to leave a lasting impression on you so throw a full assault into the mix. The vocals appear more aggressive and the whole thing has a heavier, speedier tempo which is a fitting close to an admirable piece of work by the German purveyors of the black arts.

With 20 years behind them you expect them to have honed and perfected the production on anything they release, which is exactly what they do on this release bar a couple of dodgy misses intertwined with pure battering and aural tympanic obliteration with the band being maniacal in their deliverance and they show no signs of let up from beginning to end.

Ewald and Saule showcase some fine fretwork and this is bolstered by some deep chugging from Bobby B on the bass. The real talisman on show here though is berserk on the drums who delivers a real assault of apocalyptic proportions which conjures up a satanic roll call of beats and blasts which will have any demon chomping at the bit
This would have truly cemented them in the depths of blasphemous black metal royalty, had the sound and production not let them down, if you can see past this and take it as a raw, demonical, gesture which will sit naturally within the haunting Carpathian Mountains

(8/10 Phil Pountney)