(This is Andy Synn‘s review of the fantastic new album by the black metal band Idolatry from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada — which was released on May 31st via Humanity’s Plague Production.)
One of my favourite discoveries of the last several weeks was this little blackened gem from Canadian chaos-weavers Idolatry, which by turns brings to mind the very best of Inquisition and Necrophobic (with maybe even a little bit of Emperor thrown in for good measure) without sounding overly in thrall to, or derivative of, any of them.
And while they may not be doing much to truly break the mould, there’s definitely something to be said for finding your evolutionary niche and filling it to perfection… and, in that respect, Idolatry are well on their way to becoming an apex predator in their own right.
At ten tracks (the first and last of which serve as scene-setting instrumental bookends to the record) and forty-three-and-a-half minutes in length, In Nomine Mortis is meaty enough for you to really get your teeth into, yet not so overstuffed that you’re ever in danger of choking as you try to force down another burnt metallic morsel.
And, by keeping things lean and mean in this way, Idolatry have really managed to refine their sound to focus on the prime fundamentals of Black Metal – scything riffs, strafing blastbeats, and stomping grooves – without concession or compromise.
“Towards the Widening Eye”, for example, has that sort of classic, imperial, inquisitorial intensity that lesser bands can only dream of, delivering a devilish blackened deluge of writhing distortion and slithering melody, interwoven with enough clever dynamic touches and intricate instrumental interplay to demonstrate that the Canadian quintet aren’t content with simply working to someone else’s script but are, instead, much more interested in writing their own.
Both the breakneck pace of “The Calling Void” and the scintillating “Hail, Death” continue to build on this idea that while Idolatry are a band more than willing to follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before them – up to a point at least – they’re just as keen to carve out a space for themselves which they can truly call their own, as both tracks rank amongst the hottest and hookiest pieces of Black Metal which I’ve heard so far this year, delivering a wealth of cruelly catchy riffs and malevolently melodic twists without falling into pastiche or parody in the process.
Of course In Nomine Mortis isn’t all about ear-worm extremity (though I’d argue that, barring the opening and closing instrumentals, there’s not a single song here that isn’t memorable in some way), and there’s a morbid method to the madness underpinning tracks like the torturously twisted “Reborn in Poison” and the hypnotic “Breathing Dust” which manifests itself in a series of viscerally intense, cleverly constructed arrangements of scorching sound and feral fury that never fail to keep you on your toes, even as they induce one irresistible bout of headbanging after another.
Culminating with the imposingly powerful, horribly haunting strains of “The Serpentine Possession” (arguably the best track on the entire album), In Nomine Mortis may not be a perfect album, but it could very well be the first (ok, second, but who’s counting?) step on the band’s road to building themselves a long-lasting legacy of their very own.
And, hopefully, I’m not just blowing smoke when I say that, as long as they keep this up, Idolatry could one day establish themselves a place among the pantheon of the immortals. Only time will tell.