Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Erebus Enthroned - Night's Black Angel (2011)

I'd read quite a few good things about this Australian black metal outfit's debut, and while the style on exhibit here is hardly 'news', I must say that for once, such early praise is far from empty. There's definitely a Norse or Swedish spin to the composition, somewhere between Mayhem and Emperor, delivered through full bodied riffing, dynamic variation and high production standards, comparable to many of the 1st tier genre staples. I would actually draw a parallel to their countrymen Nazxul, only without the symphonic streak coursing through their latest, Iconoclast. Sure, there are a lot of more unique artists in the spectrum with a more memorable admixture of ingredients, but Night's Black Angel is raging and competent enough to win some attention from genre adherents, even though several traits feel standard to the medium (like the vocals).

One of the most noteworthy characteristics of the album is the lack of dependency on sheer blasting material. They can accelerate at will, but instead they incorporate lots of mid-paced, harrowing grooves and spikes of fibrous tremolo picked riffs with tails of bright dissonance. Dense, efficiently thrashing mute-streams that jerk the listener about like a puppet in the grasp of the devil. There are also arching, glorious bridges in the riffs of "Enthroning the Harbinger of Death" "Zealotry in Death" and the title track. Threads of dark, droning ambiance are often used to roll out the black, thriving guitars, but there is one track here ("Temple of Dispersion") which is sheer instrumental ambient horror. Perhaps the best songs are those with the slicing, blustering rhythms like "Nil (Solve non Coagula)" and "Blackwinged", both of which recall the underrated Swedish crew Mörk Gryning in their latter stage of modern propulsion, or several of their peers (Marduk, Dark Funeral, etc.)

There is nothing truly subtle about this debut, by which I mean it's not the sort of record where you'll keep hearing spectral haunts and revelations through repeated listens. They dress to impress immediately. It's quite easily ingested upon the first encounter, and thus it's not incredibly compelling in the long term, despite the high level of precision and competence felt through all the musicians' performances. I will say that their lyrics are fucking ace, though, and certainly they help ramp up what might otherwise be mistaken for a merely average effort. An incredible amount of thought has been placed in each passage, with incendiary incantations to various occult subjects that are threaded through a dreadful, nihilistic discourse that meshes well with the actual composition of the music. Erebus Enthroned could certainly gestate further to write a darker, more memorable onslaught, but I can't deny that Night's Black Angel provides at least a strong foundation from which to launch further atrocities.

Verdict: Win [7.5/10]
(a baptism in blood and ash)


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