Solo black metal projects tend to be more intense, I suppose because there’s no possibility of inter-human compromise. Evilfeast is no exception. This is the Polish misanthropist Grim Spirit’s fifth full album release.

The expected properties are there: wind, cold, evil, rasping and haunting pagan vocals, lingering and symphonic-sounding keyboards. One dark and violent movement leads to another. This harks back to the 1990s, Old Man’s Child, Darkthrone and the like. The vocals and sound are sufficiently distant and obscure to belong to that era. Evil escapes from every pore. “Winter Descent’s Eve … I Became the Journey” is full of wintery mystery, interrupted by fiery blasts. It’s not comfortable listening but then it was never intended to be that. When Evilfeast is not going all out in an explosion of fire, there’s always something lurking.

What there isn’t here is explosions of originality. Fires rage and lands are devastated amid mystical tones, so it’s a breath-taking, uncompromising experience. Here and there, the surging assault will stop, only to be replaced by more menace, musical misanthropy and occasional symphonic gloom. A dark choir and organ tones signal in “from the Northern Wallachian Forest Tyranny Returns” and as if the door has been opened, the sound of winds can be heard. Melancholic guitar strains are overtaken, for the first time, by an epic hanging soundscape. I can see that this track was meant to extend the air of dark mystique but it didn’t hit any great heights for me. So too “Archaic Magic … a Cenotaph below the Cursed Moon” and “Inclinata Resurgit … Rebirth of my Noble Dark Kingdom” go through the darkest of motions, and there is plenty of pomp as the titles suggest, but they don’t excite or uplift me.

“Elegies of the Stellar Wind” is undoubtedly the work of someone who believes in his dark art. Respecting the traditions of black metal, Evilfeast manages to inject an imposing and uncompromising atmosphere. What I can’t say is that this brings anything new to the table. Rather “Elegies of the Stellar Wind” looks back, and whilst I can appreciate its intensity, it didn’t stir my blood.

(6/10 Andrew Doherty)