Something about the isolated dual guitar harmony at the beginning of Livarkahil’s new Wrath of God EP sounds a warning, despite the fact that the tone is relatively clean and the melody mournful and memorable. Eventually, the dam bursts and the flood comes, the warning fulfilled. “The Eternal Sun” may start harmoniously, but it soon wrenches necks, and the vocals scald, sear, and melt flesh right down to the bone.
Falling somewhere in the No Man’s Land between Immortal and Behemoth, Livarkahil’s brand of blackened death metal strives for a feeling of martial might, with the sound of massive armies of the night surging across blasted landscapes, implacable and unstoppable. The songs are harsh, stern, infernally imperial, with a titanic low end and a distorted bass and guitar tone that crackles with indigo energy.
That militaristic quality is enhanced by martial drum patterns that emerge here and there in between bouts of blast-beats and thundering double-bass. The riffs hammer like industrial-strength nail-drivers, with the bleak melodies carried by chords that moan and groan and by skittering tremolo-inflicted leads that rise above the crushing barrage that thunders below. The bass delivery is also absolutely pulverizing, like the hammering of giant chains into place, from which there is no escape.
As ominous as the music is, Wrath of God is also a box of headbang candy, fully loaded with compelling grooves. I defy you to sit still, especially while listening to “Deny Your God” or “Through Hatred and Devotion”.
Returning to the vocals, HK’s remind me of the vivid, scalding delivery of Heaven Shall Burn’s Marcus Bischoff. They’re impassioned, and they burn. At well-chosen moments on “The Eternal Sun” and the title track, they’re layered with strident clean vocals, and there’s an effective use of a chorus of voices preceding dirge-like sections of “Devotion”, which is probably my favorite track even though it’s the doomiest piece on the EP.
Wrath of God follows Livarkahil’s 2011 full-length album Signs of Decay, but these five songs don’t sound like a hastily thrown-together snack to fill the space between album-length meals. To the contrary, the EP is an accomplished serving of deliciously bestial proportions in its own right — which makes it especially sweet that Livarkahil are giving away the EP for free. All you have to do is follow this link and you can download the songs for repeat feasting. But you can also stream them right here: