Stahlsarg were formed in 2013, and still have their original line up of Eissturm on vocals and guitars, Krieg joining him on guitars, Destruction pounding on the bass and Eisenfaust providing the back bone on the drums, and they have gone from strength to strength ever since their inception.

Stahlsarg return with ‘Mechanisms Of Misanthropy’, their second full length album, and it is 63 minutes of pure, raw, black metal, which will transport you directly into the bowels of hell, and ask you to dance with lucifer herself.

The album has been produced by Danny B Talkoma of Criminal, Lock Up and Dimmu Borgir notoriety, and Stahlsarg have drafted in the guest vocal talents of Kim Dylla, best known for work with ‘A Winter Lost’ and ‘Gwar’.

The album kicks off with opener, ‘Raise The Dead’, and sets the tone for the rest of the opus. It is dark, moody and atmospheric, and builds with chilling guitar work and pounding drums. Eissturm lays down some truly demonic vocals and this band sets out their intentions in the first few moments of this grand opus. ‘Das Fallbeil’ kicks in from the offset and, as much as Stahlsarg are of UK pedigree, they could easily sit amongst some of the best Norwegian black metal bands with this release. ‘Blonde Poison’ is slow and builds in its intensity, with the guitars and drums effortlessly working in unison, which only adds to the build-up of the atmosphere.

Track 6, ‘Burn And Destroy’, is a highlight of the album, and sets the mood with howling winds and fires crackling, before the guitars, and then the rest of the band, pile in with a barrage of metal, which is pure ferocity in its atavism.

The band then switch direction with ‘Hope Lies Frozen’, which is a pure instrumental track, and gives us a short respite from the demonic vocals. It builds with footsteps crunching in the pure snow, before a haunting clicking of a shotgun sends shivers down your spine, and then it releases a shot which reverberates through the speakers, all this built around wind chimes and howling wind, which sets an eeriness to the proceedings which seems only natural. Vocals are then heard to scream out, with drums and guitar work bringing some tune to the arrangement in ‘A Will To Endure’, which is definitely a track to be banging the head to. This is one of my personal favourites and seems to see the band switching direction slightly, yet staying with the true black metal undertone.

The band close the album out with ‘In The Lungs Of The Earth’, a track which is poetic and melancholic in its approach. It slows the pace down slightly, and turns up the atmosphere, before Kreig et al kick in again, and drop you straight down into the burning bowels of hell

This is a fine example of black metal at its rawest, dirtiest form, yet is so clinical and technical in its deliverance, it is a classic in waiting. This is definitely going to sit alongside the greats of the black arts, and Gorgoroth, 1349, Taake et al, all need to watch their backs, in fact, move over, there are some new lads in town.

(9/10 Phil Pountney)