(Here’s Andy Synn‘s review of the debut album by the multinational European band Sinistral King, which is being released today — April 24th.)
Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men… how easily they go astray.
Case in point, I had, originally, intended to take today off from NCS work and leave this particular album until next week, where I planned to make it part of a six-album, Black Metal-focussed, round-up (which, just to be clear, I’m still going to do).
However at the eleventh hour I was struck with a sudden surge of inspiration, a compulsion to get this one written up as soon as possible, hence why I’m back again with my fourth review of the week.
The extra effort is all worth it though, because I can say, without a shred of hyperbole, that Serpent Uncoiling is one of the best Black Metal albums of the year so far.
On the surface this statement might sound a little overblown. After all this is only Sinistral King’s first album. But when you consider that the band’s various members also serve in Unlight, Triumph of Death, and Vredehammer (whose new record we’ve attempted to sum up here), it’s not like they’re lacking in collective experience or well-honed talent.
At times the trio’s blending of ominous, occult atmosphere and weighty, bombastic riffage – which errs towards, but never quite crosses over into, Belphegor-esque Blackened Death Metal territory – reminds me of the sinister splendour of Mephorash and the insidious intensity of Nighbringer, and although that might seem like quite a lot of name-dropping in a short space of time, the truth is that Sinistral King are more than worthy of being talked about in such esteemed company.
The opening title-track is a perfect introduction to what Serpent Uncoiling has to offer, melding massive, molten-metal riffs, torrential, tumultuous percussion, and some surprisingly shred-happy lead work, with passages of eerie ambience and moments of moody malevolence, constantly ebbing and flowing between these two extremes with a sense of grim and godless grace.
On top of all this the group also demonstrate an impressive ability to layer every track with a plethora of punishing rhythmic and vocal hooks, the latter of which are delivered with the sort of commanding, authoritative arrogance which recalls both Adam Buszko (Hate) and Shagrath (Dimmu Borgir) in their prime.
Whether it’s the relentless, rolling thunder of “Nahemoth”, the grandiose grooves and spine-tingling melodies of “Isheth Zenunim”, or the morbidly infectious, oppressively atmospheric “Fields of Necromance”, there’s not a single song here that doesn’t hit the highest of heights and delve into the darkest of depths – repeatedly – and by the time you hit climactic, multi-layered marvel “Where Nothingness Precedes Cosmos” there’s every chance you’ll have been seized by the urge to dive straight back into the album’s serpentine coils.
Make no mistake about it, this is a brilliantly dynamic, incredibly compelling, work of absolute blackened artistry, from a band whose true potential is only just beginning to unfurl.