With a name like ‘Shem Ha Mephorash’ this was never going to be an easy listen and the Swedish occultists certainly don’t disappoint, building on their strong back catalogue and mesmerising live rituals to deliver their strongest offering to date.

This review has taken me longer than most as I wanted to devote time to really getting into the psyche of the release and fully appreciating it before committing pen to paper. Despite this it is one of my shortest reviews as I haven’t dissected out individual tracks feeling that this should be considered one piece rather than eight constituent parts.

While this is undoubtedly black metal at its maleficent core, it creates a fully immersive experience during eight epic tracks with a rich, complex musical tapestry where crushing passages effortlessly rub shoulders with delicate instrumentation creating an air of malevolent mysticism.

During 74 minutes a wealth of material is covered with the black metal foundation being augmented and complemented by choral vocals, pianos and bells during peaceful interludes, all serving to add further depth to the rich soundscapes. Although there are frequent swings in pace and style it all feels very deliberate and meticulously planned with everything playing a key role in the evolution of this album with absolutely no filler material.

Although not as “battering” as many extreme metal releases, this has more intensity than most and becomes more encompassing with each listen creating an air of overwhelming melancholy. If shamanic black metal is at all on your radar, do yourself a favour and pick this up.

(9.5/10 Andrew Pountney)