Review: The Black Sorcery – And The Beast Spake Death From Above

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Label: Krucyator Productions

There is nothing subtle about And The Beast Spake Death From Above. The ultra-violent war metal of The Black Sorcery lives up to the promise not only of the album title, but also the band and genre names. This is an album filled with violence, the sound of burning churches and heaven overthrown. It is an all-consuming listen, the kind of record that feels utterly captivating, throwing the listener in to a world where the geography is that of the broken skull and shattered bone; where blood falls like rain; where there is nothing but war.

For all its extremity, one of the aspects of war metal that is often overlooked is its ability to create an atmosphere that is as hypnotic as it is punishing – the best bands of the genre possess not only a very bestial sense of violence, but also very real riffs and grooves. That’s something that The Black Sorcery understand well, and And The Beast… is characterised as much by its riffs as it is by its unrelenting savagery. As much as songs such as ‘Seizures’ might be propelled along by drums that hammer like a machine gun, there’s also something incredibly catchy about the riffs, that results in that Pavlovian response of involuntary head-banging.

There’s also a sense of coldness to And The Beast… that is often absent in war metal. There is something about the textures of these songs that, when they slow down for the mid-tempo sections that provide a vital sense of contrast, speaks of frozen wastelands and the kind of frostbitten wind that flays skin from bone. It helps The Black Sorcery to stand apart from their peers, and gives them a sense of character in a genre that can often be lacking it.

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Part of this is also down to the vocals. Whilst there are plenty of ground-shaking growls to be found within the album, the occasional use of black metal-rooted shrieks adds a further cutting element to The Black Sorcery’s sound. Their effect, when they emerge from the murk, can be utterly soul-searing, especially on fifth track ‘Circling the Drain’, where they contrast strongly with the largely palm-muted riffs.

On the whole though, this is an album that doesn’t veer far from the war metal template as set down by the likes of Conqueror and Blasphemy – but then, it’s a genre that has narrow scope for experimentation. Instead, it’s the utter conviction of The Black Sorcery that makes And The Beast… stand out. It’s perhaps more tightly controlled than the norm, with a feeling at times that the violence is being kept on a short leash rather than running wild and free, but this plays to the strengths of The Black Sorcery – theirs is war metal of mastery and control, rather than anarchic barbarism. It is every bit as vicious and punishing as you would hope for though, and as captivating and atmospheric as war metal should be. There is no mercy here, just pure devastation and death.

And The Beast Spake Death From Above is due for release on 29 May 2018. It can be pre-ordered digitally and on cassette via Bandcamp.

 

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