French black metal is reliable and often edgy, so this second EP from Myrkvid and follow up to the “Pleasures of Hell” (2013) album attracted immediate interest.

The album gets under way with a mish-mash of styles. First there’s the suggestion of death n roll, before it enters into a fiery pit of not entirely convincing black metal fury. The crunchy style lives on into the second track “Serpent’s Tongue”, which after a longish introduction, bursts into malevolence. The riff is strong and the sound has something Norwegian about it. It slows down and creeps along fuzzily as if to prove a point. Growly and dark as it is, this doesn’t really go anywhere, and I felt as if it were going through the motions. “Attending My Own Funeral” has a melancholic insistence about it. Fires burn but again whilst living up to the black metal billing, the end product in the form of a bloody twisted knife, or whatever Myrkvid wanted to throw at us, isn’t there. It’s hard to call black metal insipid, but switching soundscapes doesn’t help. “Deathmarch” breaks off for a while but predictably returns to harshness. The trouble is that for me it doesn’t hang together. The fire, which threatens and I suspect is meant to be an integral part of this, doesn’t burn as strongly as the band might hope. “Deathmarch” is actually a bit dreary. Oddly enough the 20 seconds of silence, followed by ghastly monster-like growls at the start of “Demons Are Inside” was more interesting. I admit that I’m also complaining that bands don’t take their time in developing atmospheres or exploiting great moments, but this title track never gets off the ground. A few manic screams weren’t going to save this track from black metal anonymity. Death n roll returns for “The Return of Darkness and Evil” – much better this time. The rapid and regular drum beat leads the way. The singer cackles. This one has life. It stirs the soul and saved the day on what had been an underwhelming experience.

I expected more. “Demons are Inside” is black metal without a doubt, and has all the required properties, but for me it lacked character, soul or originality.

(5/10 Andrew Doherty)