Two years ago I reviewed ‘Potestas Magicum Diaboli’ by these devilish Dutch folk. I proclaimed it a triumph of a debut and waxed lyrical about the bands thunderous Black Metal.
Now two years later “Dawn of Infinite Fire” the gruesome twosome of Obscura and A are back and indeed in black and also in fine fettle.
Opening with “They Crawl From the Black Circle” the coven unleash 9 tracks of hellish darkness filled with fire and brimstone. This first track is packed with atmosphere, fast riffs and A’s excellent drumming. Changes of pace and doleful bass augment the razor sharp guitar lines.
Just like the debut this album exudes the darkened soul of Norway’s early days with a nod towards Japan’s Abigail and Sabbat whilst still sounding right up to date. Obscura’s vocals are throat tearingly brutal and A unleashes a barrage of bombast on the skins. Like some evil portent my weary cave computer could take no more of the devilish dram and switched itself off leaving me at this point having to rewrite this review. If any album is gonna have some oujia power to flick switches it is this one.
“The Lightless Inferno” is a powerhouse of tremolo picking by Obscura (who also handles the bass – the band are joined by a third member for live shows) and incredible drumming by A. The musicianship on display is razor sharp and full of emotion. Just like “Gospel of Ignition” on the debut the next two tracks “Abomination’s Altar” and “Guahaihoque” show that these women can add a huge element of groove and rock and roll into the maelstrom. Old skool Black Metal with lashings of foot atop monitor rock drama. The latter track, named after the ancient Colombian angel of death is filled with Swagger and menace.
Asagraum are not afraid to change pace adding textures into the layers of monochrome. The title track is tantamount to this opening with a stop start almost math rock on downers beat before unleashing the fury of a thousand dark spirits in a flurry of blastbeats and rapid guitars. Throughout the track there is a melody reminiscent of Enslaved or Bathory – a call of Vikings or Valkyrie to arms. Cramp inducing tremolo picking and rapid bass salvos are the name of the game here.
Dochters Van De Zwarte Vlam“ is a head down darkened beast with a beefed up rock and roll riff at its heart whilst “Beyond the Black Vortex” manages to combine eerie atmospheres with a breakneck speed black metal that invokes the wrath of one hell or another.
“Hate of Satan’s Hammer” is a great title. It brings to mind a certain tongue in cheek darkness that is too often missing in the world of the Kvlt. Nothing cheery about the track though, pounding metal gives way to sombre doomy breaks with Obscura’s unholy incantations rasping through. A personifies the aforementioned hammer with her mighty bass drum.
Closer “Waar ik ben komt de dood” features both clean and extreme vocals to great effect, showcasing both the melodies and brutality of this highly talented duo.
Difficult second album? Pffft Asagraum have conjured up a blackened belter.
(8/10 Matt Mason)