A true test of a band’s character is not how they cope when things are going well, but how they cope in the face of adversity, and it is fair to say that since their debut full length in 2015 Stained Blood have had their fair share of challenges, not least with the departure of both their vocalist and guitarist. Since then the resilient Catalans have picked themselves up and have recruited Narcís Boter (Vocals) and David Rodríguez (Guitar) to their ranks and are now in a position to release their sophomore full length, ‘Nyctosphere’.

A protracted eerie intro leads into opening track ‘Avfall’, before growling riffs kick in adding to the atmosphere until the tension is released with a roar heralding the arrival of the new vocalist. What follows is solid slab of blackened death metal, relentless and pounding with occasional let ups in pace as melody briefly comes to the fore allowing the listener to catch breath before being beaten a little more.

Slower riffs lead to a no nonsense pummelling as ‘Century to Suffer’ takes over with subtle layers adding depth to the onslaught. The pattern repeats as a slow intro leads to another aural assault overlaid with prominent, scathing vocals as ‘The Lightless Walk’ and ‘Shrines of Loss’ scream by with the drumming reaching warp speed.

‘Winterflesh’ continues the theme as its slow intro allows brief respite before armageddon is unleashed leading into the epic ‘Drowned’. At almost eleven minutes there is plenty of time for the swirling maelstrom to build to a peak until the intensity drops and an outro fades away leaving you feeling drained.

I have to admit that after the first listen, I wasn’t entirely convinced by ‘Nyctosphere’ finding it a bit one dimensional, but with repeated listens I started to unravel the layers and it suddenly clicked making a lot more sense.  This demands your attention and if you are able to give it your attention you will be rewarded

(7/10 Andy Pountney)