This is the German black metal band’s third full album release. “Sinuous and serpentine black metal” is what we’re told to expect.

Violence and rawness are what struck me about this work. I liked the old school style, which is akin to a gaping wound being opened up. The echoing backdrop provides a scary scene. After being blasted by “Calling from Dudail”, “To Fathom the Bloodmist” starts more creepily and swings between pendulous horror and the more familiar uncompromising firepower. The spoken part is a bit unconvincing but the black energy is good and engaging. I read that Chaos Invocation’s 2011 debut album “In Bloodline with the Snake” is 11 tracks of “uncompromising, rotten black metal, dripping with death and decay”. That’s a pretty apt description of this album. “MenSkinDrums” of Doom has a number of faces, firing up the anvil after a threatening Dark Fortress like build-up. “Obsession is Always the Answer” is similar, and it was while listening to this that I realised why I connected less with this than I do with their German counterparts. Yes, it has all the creepiness but with Dark Fortress it’s completely hopeless and overwhelming, whereas here the direction changes and it’s like being let off the hook. It’s not that easy to listen to either, not that I want easy listening, but Chaos Invocation left me behind as they lurched from one ghastly passage to the next. I’m at my most invigorated when they race forward in thrashing black metal style as they do on “The Search of Keys and Gates”. The vocal histrionics in between are less appealing. Even less appealing is the grotesque gnarly narrative of “Blackmoon Prayer”, complete with rising chorus. The creepy and dark instrumentals are ok. At least the raw violence of “Luciferian Terror Chorale” mostly blanked out the mystifying attempt at satanic atmosphere. The title track has the venom of Dark Funeral this time. It is intense and frankly would have satisfied me without the momentary incursion into swampy territory, which seems to be a contractual obligation. A two minute interlude followed and added nothing before a final assault, complete with mock epic vocals, finishes the album. “Ajna assassins Absolute” swirls in black turbulence and punches forward. The spoken vocals enter the violent scene in the background like an uninvited guest. The energy flows, but the narrator has to say his piece as we enter another phase but this time of melancholy before ending in no man’s land.

Musically and thematically, this album has the blackest of intentions and delivers them well. I liked the fire and fury and creepiness, but what I didn’t like was the disconcerting shifts, which struck me as superficial, and the attempts at blackened atmospheres with vocals of an unpleasant sounding overlord. “Reaping Seasons, Bloodshed Beyond” has qualities but instead of experiencing a coherent whole, I found it disjointed and distracting.

(6/10 Andrew Doherty)