“For fans of Rotting Christ, Darkthrone, Satyricon, Khold” reads the press release that accompanies ‘In Chaos Becrowned’, the debut album from Norwegian occult act Acârash.

Maybe…but it does become somewhat clear as you listen to this album, that this band clearly worship at the altar of Frost and Satyr in particular, possibly wearing their influences a bit too plainly.

Formed in Oslo in 2016, Acârash tout themselves as a black ‘n’ roll hard rock band that “explores and develops the boundaries of rock and metal” using “esoteric poetry”, sounds intriguing and progressive doesn’t it…but what you actually get is 8 tracks of rather plodding doomy black metal.

‘Cadaver Dei’ makes for a reasonably good opener, but it still basically sets the template.

The nifty riffs of ‘Shadows Roam’, and the buzz-saw lead and bass intro of ‘Gathering of Crows’ provide interest, but the slower grooves and spoken-word style of vocalist Anlov P. Mathiesen starts to get a little wearing after a while. Certainly by ‘Ashes of the Mortal Mind’ there’s a central riff that almost demands to be put out of its misery, and when the chorus kicks in, you’ll swear that you’ve heard that song before!

It’s only really the up-tempo section of ‘Legio Obscura’ and the angrier vocals of ‘Sacrifice the Winter Wolf’ where the record seems to break free from its mold, before seemingly limping out of view.

The album wins points on production though, with Ruben Willem providing clarity, and a sharp mix.

Unfortunately, for a debut album ‘In Chaos Becrowned’ sounds surprisingly quite tired, as if the band have already given up on their chosen musical direction before it’s really begun. So, despite a few cool shifts in tempo and dynamic, this all sounds a bit too close for comfort to another/other band(s) to be fully appreciated in its own right.

A shame, as I’m sure that Acârash have much more to offer.

(4/10 Stuart Carroll)