‘Ruin’ is the second album by Melodic Black Metal band Cor Scorpii, a mere decade after their début was released. It was recorded over a period of three years in various locations, has guest vocalists Annika Beinnes and Mats Lerberg, along with new lead guitarist Erlend Nybø.

In only 40 seconds they dissuade you from thinking that “Svart Blod (Hovmod står for fall)” is going to be all relaxing folk music with traditional instruments, as Ole M. Nordsve’s near non-stop blasting over Erlend Nybø and Rune Sjøthun’s guitars invites Thomas S. Øvstedal’s rasping roars in before it all fades to allow melodic keyboard interludes by Gaute Refsnes to accompany Annika’s far sweeter vocal range, then taking off again at high speed.

“Hjarteorm” is far more straight forward black metal with a little melodic guitar riff playing alongside the keyboards before the sharply beaten snare is far more soundly pounded when blast beats ensue.

The far more keyboard centric “Skuggevandrar” has strong clean male vocals, Mats Lerberg I’m assuming, interspersed with black metal rasps and a lovely harmony guitar riff. The female vocals are used again during an orchestral interlude before heading back into extreme metal territory.

Harking back to the raw sound of the 90’s, “Fotefar” goes balls to the wall for a while before slowing slightly to give the guitars a melody to pursue.

The very high-pitched guitar completely drowns out any chance of hearing Inge Jonny Lomheim’s bass, which is very low in the “Helveteskap” mix, but the use of various vocal techniques work well together to give the song different feels as it works its way through its movements.

A creepy piano and violin open “Ri di Mare” before the guitars and drums come in at full force with Thomas’s raspy growl. The lead is rather lengthy and flowing while the undercurrent of Gaute’s keyboard is sublimely maintained throughout.

Rune’s mandolin is quickly usurped by a frantic guitar flurry that reminds me a little of Trans Siberian Orchestra, as does the lead on “Ærelaus” but with far faster drumming.

The final track “Siste Dans” is the longest on the album and a fitting last dance with its folksy accordion and subdued unaccompanied female vocals, but it also ramps things up to manic levels with goblinesque vocals to contrast and complement them, along with the occasional blast to make the gentle keyboard interludes feel even slower.

While melding together various traditional elements really well and keeping things interesting, there’s still the overpowering essence of black metal here to keep it firmly rooted in the genre.

(7/10 Marco Gaminara)