‘Death Crown’ opens up with an eerie intro, knocks, and screeches a plenty, which all builds to an anticipatory feeling that surrounds the release from this American blackened death crew.
Skan then launch into the album proper, and deliver us to their hellish blackened world by way of ‘Death Crown’. The pace on ‘Death Wish’ is speedy enough, and the vocals are competent growls, which are guttural and convincing. The track then slows, and whispers can be heard atop of a heavy bass pound and a constant bell clanging repeatedly, all adding a macabre infusion to the black metal rawness.
‘A Mort’ then starts with a relatively slow tempo, intertwining between the duel guitar work of Merino and Van Herpen, and this is kept up throughout the track, displaying a strange, and trance like musical element to the album.
‘The Womb’ then keeps chugging along in the same doomy vein from where ‘A Mort’ left off. This time they introduce more melody into the proceedings, with a guitar lead which then invites the vocals to the party, and the growling of Merino can be heard, amidst all the individuality that this release opens you up to.
The band then turn down a different route, and opens up ‘Au Dela’ with a clear, crisp guitar strum, which picks and mesmerises with solidarity that is completely left field to the rest of the album. Again, the vocals have been omitted in order to allow the other practices to excel.
‘Iron And Blood’ then returns to the more traditional black metal style, and they show masses of competency with it. It’s raw in its deliverance and the vocals yet again, growl and preach to the undead, with power in spades, as if it’s straight from the gardens of Lucifer.
‘Father Qayin’ opens to the sounds of a storm and rain pelting down, with claps of thunder in the background. Beautiful guitars then lead us back into the demonical world, Merino excels with the vocals again, and this is very reminiscent of traditional raw black metal, in the style of Watain, Horna and Sarkom
‘For The Love Of Death’ closes it all off with a lasting impression of beautiful acoustic guitar work, laid upon the backdrop of building anticipation. As much as the rawness is toned down, there is still a manic black metal undertone. The speed may not be there with this one but the power and majesty is certainly well on show. The whole event is rounded off with guitar work which shows the bands full potential
This album has it all, doom, intricacy, rawness, demonic vocals, but may be too much of a mixed bag for some people. But if you love the blackened death metal end of the spectrum, with elements and swathes of beauty and intricacy thrown in, then this may well be for you.
(7/10 Phil Pountney)