“Album can be classified as black metal” is the raw message. No messing. It’s been five years since the impressive “Three Emperors Triangle”, as black and atmospheric affair as you could wish for. It’s great to see these Poles back with another album.

From the beginning Hegerøth play with our minds. The sound is crisp and dark. Sparks fly but with the subtle aroma of a creeping death. The tempo changes, and so we’re kept on our toes as the fire and sinister atmosphere envelop us. What I like about Hegerøth is that they don’t waste time. “Master of the Sins” may only be three minutes forty two seconds long but the assault is relentless and transforming, so we’re put through our paces. Little guitar twists are inserted like little injections of evil. “Oh Glorious Night” is a darker affair, but never losing power. “Through the Window” continues in a similarly creepy vein. I love the evil laughter. This may come from the centre of Hell but there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be creativity and imagination, and there’s plenty. This misanthropy, both musically and lyrically, of the first order: “But others are shit, I don’t care about them … their wisdom has faded like water from a cracked can”. Some of the introductions and sections remind me of Mayhem. It’s like being swung from a chandelier. The tempo cranks up on “I Need Blood” before it slows down and drags us along the pavement. When it gets going, it’s exciting. This is well produced, and Hegerøth make the best of each change, ramming us into the ground with each cynical and violent blast. The guitar heralds evil in the background. Here are there is a distorted sound, the sound of an old piano or a ghastly sound effect to unsettle us. “No Halo, No Tiara” typifies the imperious and spiteful qualities, which characterise this album. Although composed of nine tracks, I didn’t really get the sense of individual songs as each piece has great and varying movement and drama. It’s like going through a storm. Sometimes we are fighting against it, while at others the power takes us through it. For something so deathly black, there is something uplifting about it. When Hegerøth have had enough to say, then it stops. So “So Calm” stops abruptly and we are exposed to the growling fury of “Valley of Dusk”. It’s easy to underestimate the melodic quality of these dark pieces. “Valley of Dusk” happily drives forward with all the attendant growls and violence from the instrumental department. Sound effects then appear in “Phantoms of the Night” before cleverly building up into one final volley of firepower.

Hegerøth succeed in bringing energy and originality to a genre, which if played without these qualities could be very clichéd. “Degenerate” captures evil, and does it in a musically accomplished and exciting way.

(9/10 Andrew Doherty)