(Andy Synn presents his first impressions of the fantastic new album from Thundering Hooves, which is set for release on October 7th by Mercenary Press)
Well, here we are… finally.
I say “finally” because, originally, this premiere/review was meant to go live yesterday, but due to a major behind-the-scenes mix-up (which involved me working with the wrong promo materials entirely… long story) we had to bump it back a day.
But, while this obviously means I haven’t been able to give it the usual in-depth investigation, perhaps we should treat this as something of an opportunity… after all, dear reader, how often is it that you and I get to experience an album for the first time together?
So let’s see what Radiance has to offer, shall we, and compare our notes at the end?
Before we go any further, of course, you might want to check out my review of the band’s debut album, Vestiges, to give yourself a bit of a primer and a way to compare and contrast the band “then” vs the band “now”.
If you’ve done that (and, if you haven’t, this is your last chance to do so before we really get stuck in to the new record) you’ll quickly notice that the devilish duo have packed on significantly more musical muscle during the writing of this record, as while the underlying recipe of the band’s Black meets Death meets straight-up Heavy Metal hybrid has remained largely the same – just one listen to the hurl ‘n’ burl of fast-moving, hard-grooving opener “Embers” should tell you that – the final product is an altogether heavier and more imposing beast than its predecessor.
That bring said, songs like the irresistibly infectious “A Howl from the Cloister” and the terrific title-track make it clear that – spiritually, at least – Radiance is even more of a Black Metal album at heart than its predecessor was (albeit one which definitely isn’t afraid to just rock the fuck out with some grandstanding guitar-heroics when the moment calls for it – with the latter track in particular giving off some serious Goatwhore-meets-Khemmis vibes at times), and it’s this tension between “kvlt” intensity and “classic” songwriting which gives this record so much of its pizazz.
The bombastic swing of “The True Death” – interspersed here and there with occasional eruptions of savage blasting ferocity – serves as yet another reminder of why the band’s adopted moniker of “Black Heavy Metal of Death” is so apropos, all brazen, swaggering hooks and bitter blackened bite, while “Danse Macabre” goes a step further, its unashamed and unapologetic riff-worship and cruelly catchy melodies hearkening back to an age when the lines between nascent genres were far more blurred than they are today.
Climaxing (yeah, I said it) with the audaciously anthemic, yet also subtly – almost insidiously – proggy, strains of “The Key”, Radiance is, ultimately the sort of album that’s less interested in being “extreme” and more into just being “extremely good”, the sort of album that could, and should, get even the most cold-hearted, corpse-painted cynic banging their head, pumping their fists, and raising their horns… whether they want to or not.
But those are just my thoughts (and I haven’t even mentioned the occasional use of samples to give the whole record a more “epic”, not-quite-concept, feel) after one listen. I’m sure I’ll have more (and so will you) after I’ve given this album a few more spins. And I’d love to hear what you all think too after you’ve given the album a listen courtesy of the embedded player below.
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