(Here we have the fourth installment in our week-long effort to catch up on albums we like with shorter-than-usual reviews.)
Light the torches in a cave deep underground, let the cavern fill up with black smoke, tread carefully through the decaying skulls of those who were not worthy, and bow down at the altar of irresistible convulsion in the shrine of double-bass and the blackened riffing that cannot be denied. All ye acolytes of Immortal, Immolation, Incantation and Behemoth, take heed: The ceremony is about to begin, with the Lords of the Nine presiding.
That’s the name of the debut album by The Evil Amidst — Lords of the Nine. It was released in late September 2010, but we only discovered it recently. It’s a concept album about demon mythology in the realms of dark fantasy. It’s also so well-attuned to our tastes that it could have come out a decade ago and we’d still be writing about it.
The members of The Evil Amidst are well-practiced in the black arts of bone crushing: the line-up includes two members of Malevolent Creation – Gio Geraca on lead guitar and Gus Rios on drums; Kult ov Azazel‘s Xaphan on guitar; HatePlow‘s Lenny Warmbrandt providing the vocals; and Kamelot‘s Sean Tibbetts on bass. But from what we’ve read, this band isn’t just a one-off side-project, but a group that apparently intends to stay together, tour, and continue recording notwithstanding the members’ commitments to other projects. And well they should. (more after the jump . . .)
What comes your way on Lords of the Nine is a mixture of jagged death metal riffs, some death-grind, some invigorating power metal guitar solos, even a few, judiciously timed keyboard overlays. But the dominant adjective for us is black. The morbid, doom-laden melodies; the powerful wave-fronts of tremolo guitar; the occasional Nordic acid in the vocals (which are mainly of the cavernously guttural variety) — those features char the crust of this beast into a blackened thing of menace.
With the exception of the doom-shrouded instrumental “Amid the Ruin” and the atmosphere-setting introductions to a few songs, the pacing is fast, and the rhythmic body-blows come one after the other, expertly inflicted by musicians who know what the fuck they’re doing. Just when we’d get carried away with enthusiasm over the riffing and the guitar solos, our eyes would pop open at the expertly timed drum progressions, and then we’d get fixated on how sweet those roaring vocals sounded.
And as for the song construction, they’re full of rhythmic grooves and melodic hooks heavy enough to hang your carcass from the rafters.
Really, there’s so much tastiness on this album that we had a devil of a time picking one to share. For us, it was a razor-thin call between “Evil Amidst” and “Decreator”, but after much mental convulsing, we made the choice.
To prepare adequately, we recommend that you crank up the volume and get in a good crouch with your hands on your thighs to brace yourselves for some seeeerious headbanging – y’know, so you won’t fall over into the furniture.
Lords of the Nine is available on iTunes and Amazon MP3. Now here’s a ReverbNation widget that will allow you to hear three more songs from the album, including “Evil Amidst”, which is the album’s prize-winner for headbang-ness.