Maltese act Angelcrypt has been around for nearly two decades now, though their release rate has been rather sporadic with a sprinkling of singles, two EPs and an album during that time. This second full length comes some four years after ‘We Are The Dead’ which was released independently and it is pleasing to see the band has been picked up by the German label as they certainly deserve some recognition based on the quality of ‘Dawn Of The Emperor.

Taking their formula from the melodic death metal style of the Scandinavian variety Angelcrypt have honed their skills to deliver an album bristling with sumptuous lead breaks and addictive riffs. After a brief atmospheric intro, ‘Of War And Will’, complete with keyboard saturation and narration the album launches with ‘Clockwork Blood Red’ and thrusts the listener into an enveloping melodic blanket and infectious hook. The riff change is expected, as is the cymbal smash as the mid-tempo structuring has that Amon Amarth density fluxing accompanied by a harsh throaty vocal balanced by some cleaner vocals that seem to be in vogue in the genre without any straining at the edges thankfully.

‘On Killing Fields’ continues the harmonious aura of the riffing with a fine melodic riff as the Amon Amarth bounce comes completely to the fore with double kick density drilling into the song enhancing the song towards a Viking like thrust. Decreasing the mood is ‘Iron Creed’ where an isolated riff opens the song to reveal a more atmospheric start and a choral backing that I particularly liked sending the song into Omnium Gatherum realms producing a more grandiose posture. After a brief interlude of ‘Salvation’ a calming intro sequence starts up on ‘Martyred Soul’ that has the choral vocal style before another superb riff and hook ingrains into the head. Again there is that indelible ability of the song to infect your mind with its catchiness as the song diverts into double kick melody.

The far more sombre tones of ‘Si Vis Pacem’ opens with a piano sequence, bereft and extremely sorrowful the track has an eeriness not heard on the other tunes before the song smoothly transitions into a sublime guitar riff and accompanying hook. The vocal chanting is not something I particularly like but the abrasive riffing is, as is the radio like vocal style which really enhances the atmosphere of the songs vibe leaving only ‘The Black Hand’ to conclude this fine release. The brief fade in leads back to the Amon Amarth credentials with a catchy bouncing riff as the chunkiness and chugging riff style is linked to the double bass infusion with considerable aplomb making this album a worthy addition to any melodic death metal fans collection.

(8/10 Martin Harris)