It’s safe to say that black metal is reaching more listeners than ever before. It’s also safe to say that what people understand by the term “black metal” is more varied than it has ever been — to the point that it’s no longer a terribly useful genre term. It has morphed into a signpost that marks the entrance to a sprawling city with many diverse communities (whose inhabitants don’t always want to have anything to do with their neighbors). So when I say that Hostis Universi Generis is one of the best, most intense, and most powerful black metal albums of the year, that requires some further explanation — perhaps especially for people who couldn’t get into this band’s debut album.
The animating philosophies behind A.M.S.G.’s music don’t appear to have changed significantly since 2013’s Anti-Cosmic Tyranny. The band still worship death. They still view the cosmos in its current incarnation as a failed experiment and yearn for its end, including all life within it; the new album’s title translates roughly to “the enemy of all”. And as their name (Ad Majorem Satanae Gloriam) signifies, they still offer their devotion to the greater glory of Satan.
But although the band’s inspirations and objectives may have remained fundamentally the same, the music has changed in important ways. Hostis Universi Generis is not simply a step ahead; it’s more like a giant leap forward. Even for those listeners who recoiled at Anti-Cosmic Tyranny, it’s time to put those memories aside and explore this new album with fresh ears.