When I woke up this morning I was so happy, it was finally raining. I’m not sure how you readers feel about the weather but as a recent convert to preferring the winter I have to confess this change in temperature has been a long time coming and I won’t hear a bad word about it. Another positive to this drop is the fact that I can start to enjoy Black Metal again. Of course I listen to the genre all year round, but as cliché as it sounds, it’s so much better during the autumn and winter. Its very essence is cold, lonely and melancholic, there really is nothing better than putting on raw Black Metal cassettes whilst drinking a nice porter while the snow falls outside.

Before I get too carried away in my own fantasy (I mean after all it’s only just started to cool down) let me tell you about Runespell. Runespell is a one man Black Metal project headed up by Nightwolf whom is perhaps most notable for his live guitar contribution to Drowning The Light. His project, rather ironically considering my long rant originates from the not so frostbitten Australia. Under this guise he has released two full length studio albums, the latest being 2018’s Order Of Vengeance. This is to be succeeded by a 2019 output through Iron Bonehead Productions entitled Voice Of Opprobrium, but how will it fare?

The mystical Dark Ambient/ Dungeon Synth introduction to Firmament In Blood was first to intrigue me. I’m a big fan of this sort of atmospheric medieval meddling and instantly I was drawn in wishing to hear more. Indeed the opening track is a full instrumental experience yet not at all out of place, merely a building of anticipation. Then we get to the title track which is a dark and morbid traditional Black Metal crusher. There are very little frills and the production is totally macabre just like the classic releases of the 90’s we all know and love. Both vocally and instrumentally the Blackened portions of the album burst forth with weak production and utter anguish, an ideal Black Metal sound as far as I’m concerned and one that flirts with the atmospheric so perfectly.

Spacing the release are further delicate Dungeon Synth style interludes in Wraithwoods and Wings Of Fate, again not out of place and in fact a delight. It is these tracks which aid in bringing the likes of Dark Ambient, Dungeon Synth and Black Metal together and give the listener more of a basis to expand their tastes. All Thrones Perish II and Ascendant give us further blasts of downtrodden Black Metal that is well composed, listenable and invigorating, of course this is nothing new but it is so far in the old school camp that it becomes a pleasure all the same. The closing number which is Ascendant is a glorious climax, raw, rough and metallic in its tone, a real glistening example of true Black Metal.

Overall I derived a lot of joy from this album. Yes I could argue the toss and say that this album is generic or nothing new but the fact of the matter is it works well. The traditional medieval Black Metal ideals and complete album structure with the Dungeon Synth interludes makes for a refreshing listen. Sometimes I just want to sit back and enjoy some real Black Metal, after all isn’t that what the genre is all about? Forget the bells and whistles this is pure, all hail true Australian Black Metal!

(8/10 George Caley)