BLACKHORNS: Rise Of An Infernal Sorcery/The Oath
Release year: 2019
Label: Putrid Cult
The first thing I’m going to criticize about this album is the somewhat sloppy job done with the design. Firstly, the album name is spelled in two different ways: Rise Of The Infernal Sorcery on the cover, and then Rise Of An Infernal Sorcery on the spine, the disc itself and under the tray. Secondly, it looks like the design guides have been left in place on the back cover, resulting in white lines on the borders and folding points. No biggies, either of them, but it does come off as slightly amateurish.
That being said, this is BlackHorns from the US, then. Or is it Black Horns? The band’s Facebook account clearly says BlackHorns, but the spine of the release says quite clearly Black Horns. And the text under the tray says BlackHorns. Let’s go with BlackHorns. Another mark in the “sloppy” section. I digress…
So, this is BlackHorns from the US, then. Taking their cues from the likes of Blasphemy, Black Witchery, early Beherit and the likes, their style is an abrasive, primitive, chaotic form of black metal. If you say “bestial”, I nod my head in agreement. But, in comparison to many other artists lumped under that category, I feel this US trio takes more cues from the likes of Black Witchery, who (at times at least) have some semblance of coherent riffs in their maelstroms of chaos than from the most balls-to-the-wall Blasphemy/Beherit worshippers who go full on into chaos and insanity.
So, in other words, Rise Of An Infernal Sorcery is chock-full of chaotic riffage, grunted vocals, speedy tempos and a general filthy, bestial atmosphere. The guitars are quite down-tuned, which gives the onslaught a death metallic tinge to it, especially when complemented by the gruff, guttural grunting of the vocals. However, in every other sense, musically this clearly lands in the field of black metal.
Sadly, the sound of the album is far from ideal for this kind of music. The guitars are rather thin and fall into the background, whereas the vocals are a tad too loud; the drums, on the other hand, are a nondescript plod, lacking both power and impact. This results in a rather thin and soft sound, which just fails to emphasize any of the right things in BlackHorn’s audial barrage. Instead of being aggressive, abrasive, chaotic, fierce and heavy, this is… well, thin and flat.
As an additional bonus on this CD edition of the album, released originally in 2016 on tape and CDr, the band’s 2012 demo The Oath has been appended. It doesn’t give much additional value, being nothing but a chaotic pulp of distortion production-wise, and musically a more embryonic version of what’s offered on the album proper. And, sadly, the sloppiness of the packaging extends to the bonus tracks as well: they’re much louder than the album proper, resulting in an annoying volume jump. Come on, it wouldn’t have been so hard to adjust the volume levels to match the album!
Ultimately, Rise Of An Infernal Sorcery is through and through a second or third tier contender in the rather populated field of bestial black metal. The sloppiness in putting this together could have been forgiven if the audio contents themselves were top notch, but when they aren’t, the clumsy presentation is hard to pass by. The music itself is passable but unimaginative and derivative chaotic black metal, the kind that can only be recommended to absolute die hard fans of the style, and when the sound fails to lift up the music, it becomes all the harder to earnestly recommend this.
So, in conclusion, Rise Of An Infernal Sorcery is a musically halfway decent album, one that isn’t really bad but neither is it very good. However, the extramusical aspects manage to take it down that one critical notch from dime-a-dozen to “eh, no thanks.”
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