Although it has been 13 years since this group released a demo they suddenly are signed to Osmose and are unleashing a debut album. Not bad really and there are reasons they are sitting comfortably on their throne of tragedy and have such a significant label behind them. This is no doubt due to the fact that the core recording duo of Lt. Wardr (drums) and Skard (everything else) are past and present members of Slagmaur. That’s not the reason I picked this from a list with 6 other black metal albums clamouring for review and all just about to be released, in fact I’m not sure what drew me to them as I never particularly got on with what I have heard from Slagmaur. Drawn I was though and just one play proved that I had made a very good choice too as this is a slab of seriously good orthodox blackness and repeated spins have proven this as a bloody formidable debut and well worth the 13 year wait for those who had actually been doing so.
We start as we no doubt should at the ‘Entrance’ but it is no feeble knock asking to come in and instrumentally setting things up. After a spooky few seconds there a full-bodied hammering and the doors are blown wide open quickly on the tails comes the dictatorially commanding and harrowing vocals from Skard. To say he roars would be an understatement and his style suits the music perfectly, although may well be the sticking point here for some. Musically the pair unravel their craft and snake through gloomy labyrinth paths full of mystery and intrigue. Power, force and no doubt fire are the primal forces on display here and anyone wishing to drape themselves in dark and obsidian melodies that snake around and occasionally rear up and bite this is very much the sort of place to be exploring. A cataclysmic drum beat closes that path off and the next ‘Cold Depths of Solitude’ starts with a Latin incantation to gain access to it. The atmosphere ramps up and the roars are yelled dangerously close to causing burial in a rocky avalanche. Gothic acoustic parts, strange sounds and eerie whispers allow things to settle giving things a real horror soundtrack texture. The keyboards here are perfect amidst the ghoulish vibe and naturally silenced on a heartbeat as things fly back in like rabid bats. The English lyrics can be followed, all elongated as they recant magical tales and incantations silenced only for a mental flurrying of drums and guitars romping off at breakneck pace as we keep a dire appointment with ‘The Bornless One.’ The horror, the horror, but we seem to survive the ordeal perhaps gaining higher knowledge in the process. Perhaps it will tell us the meaning of ‘Avgrunnsmarsj’ further down the path?
This drips with dark eldritch atmospheres all the way through its 38-minute running time and will definitely leave the listener coldly shivering throughout the journey and dreading just what they are going to encounter next around the corner. Slower creepy crawls like ‘Stygian Fluke’ give a respite from the duo going all out at breakneck speed and both paces are handled admirably. A promo picture shows the expanded line-up playing live with pillars of flames leaping up. The album seems like a gathering of buried treasure and alien skulls to litter this stage and on the strength of this if I saw them playing nearby I would be there like a shot. Rich in imagination and expertly rendered, perhaps it is easy to see why it has taken so long for this project to come to full fruition, which it has certainly done here. At times there is a gibbering lunacy in the vocals and Skard seems driven to full-moon madness on tracks such as ‘Erbrechen’ with the instruments driving the mania to clattering fury. You can actually hear some very strange sounds that could even be a pile of skulls being rummaged through here too adding to the macabre and savage display. What next chanting great olden ones, why not? Lots going on here.
I’m not sure quite how to wrap this one up, not even knowing if I will find the exit, there’s not one of those in the track listing, ‘Siphon Anima’ could see us trapped here evermore. Perhaps I’ll just sit here patiently waiting on this throne of bones until the next album rescues me… I hope it’s not another 13 bloody years though.
(8/10 Pete Woods)