Now might be a good time to start noting all the countries our musical journeys take us to and see what places our reviews tick off come the end of the year. Even when we are in Europe some places are far from well represented and Bulgaria where Dimholt call home is one such example. Despite according to Metal Archives there being 430 bands playing our sort of stuff from there a quick look shows that there are far more whose status is marked as split-up than active. I guess it is hard work maintaining a group playing any form of metal from there and although I know the useless information that Sofia is the capital, I probably couldn’t name a single band from the country if put on the spot. Luckily the quintet that are Dimholt may well be about to change this.

Active since 2003 the band have not been that prolific releasing just a demo, an EP and an album ‘Liberation Funeral’ prior to this in 2014. They have by the looks of it been a go to support band for those visiting Bulgaria and played further afield to with everyone from Kathaarsys to Rotting Christ, Cradle Of Filth, Schammasch and Bolzer to name a few. With that in mind it should come as no real surprise that Epistēmē is a work of extreme blackness. Running just over the hour mark it is a dense and mature one too and has plenty of things going on beneath its folds. Setting things up in an explosive nature ‘Death Comes First’ is quick to batten down the hatches, fast brutal and bruising it slams spiked gauntlet down hard. The shortest and most immediate track over with, the band temper sound with longer structures unravelling with deep rooted arcane mysteries borne into things giving a more orthodox sound in execution. Snake like guitars and thorny piercing motifs glamour the listener on songs like ‘Into Dark Serenity’ leading us in stealth to explore such places as they unveil forbidden secrets and treasures. Woundheir’s craggy vocals are the perfect accompaniment into these eldritch depths as he companionably leads into the depths of darkness. This search for knowledge, science or understanding does take us into some fast paced flurries and storming violent passages and the juxtaposition between styles works very well leaving you mesmerised one second and then slapped round the face as swaggering numbers like ‘Sacrilege’ prove; some impressive tormented screaming seemingly booby-trapping our guide on route. “Sacred words of light” are ominously intoned and melody is strong oozing palpably as guitars ritualistically glimmer and gleam as ‘The Martyr’s Congregation’ convenes to worship unspeakable things. You can probably make your own story as you follow this both musically and due to the understandable gurgling vocals and track titles. This must be powerful live and definitely a match for some of the more seriously afore-mentioned bands.

At first, I was a bit concerned the length of this might be prohibitive but as tenebrous tentacles of terror spread it allows the imagination to run riot and all sorts of nasty things come slithering out the woodwork. ‘The Fall’ is welcomed by lush acoustic guitar line before venomously exploding out the traps in heavy and oppressive fashion, the atmosphere is particularly impressive throughout and the recording packs a punch. Nothing here is throwaway and the tempo, drive and seriousness of the band’s ideas are kept on the boil through the scabrous ‘Scars Of Seclusion’ to the climatic sinister and ritualistic ‘Aletheia.’ Impressive stuff from a place we may not have expected it from, Bulgarian darkness is definitely on the map.

(8/10 Pete Woods)