Review Summary: Steady stream of effective black metal, with plenty of melody
Black Metal as a genre has come a long way since its hard rock influenced beginnings and arson and manslaughter stained second wave. Bands like Poland’s Mgla, Ukraine’s Drudkh and countless of others all bring their own sound to the table. With all these different bands creating their own styles across the world, the Black Metal scene might be thriving more strongly than ever before. This begs the question: is there room for one more band？
Cue Sweden’s Lycanthropus. With very raspy, slightly monotonous and thin vocals placed low in the mix, a relentless drummer knowing how to keep up a blast beat, and cold, aggressive riffing, we’re surely in Black Metal territory. Like usual in modern Black Metal, Lycanthropus sometimes also includes acoustic guitars. However, these moments are few and far between, and are restricted to the two acoustic interludes, Pale Beauty and the title track. Do these Swedes manage to stand out from the pack？ If yes, how？
Tracks are usually short but have their own clear identity. They focus on a few well thought out riffs, and get their point across clearly. The music is typically very raw, obviously opting for the more primitive approach the genre is well known for, but featuring lots of melodic riffing throughout to keep the listener’s attention. This is achieved mainly by creating a contrast between the old school vocals mixed with these aforementioned melodic riffs, borrowed from all kinds of metal styles. A short but sweet track like Death March
is a good example of this diverse style. This way, the album manages to carve a sound all of its own, not really sounding like any other currently active bands.
Of course one could draw parallels with other bands, Rise
for instance calling Drudkh to mind, with its melodic washes that put images of empty battle fields, forests and a wide, forlorn country side in your head. It almost seamlessly flows into The Bavarian Executioner
, which features a very un-Drudkh-like heavy metal style bouncy riff to spice things up.
Sometimes these story-telling tracks, with their sense of grandeur, make you wonder whether you’ve finally found the BM version of Amon Amarth’s With Oden On Our Side. This is particularly true for tracks like Hammer
, which feature epic harmonies and a sepia tinted, historical tone. However, mixing things up and making these epic qualities even stronger by contrast, tracks like Dagger
opt for a very old school sounding approach. This is even more clearly portrayed in album closer Wolf Song
, which reminds strongly of punk and with its early Bathory style riffs.
All these comparisons aside, in the end Lycantrhopus have shown that yes, the world needs even more Black Metal bands. Especially so because the production here is great, finding a good balance between aggression, coldness and listenability. If albums as exciting and well thought-out as this one are being released still, the future of the genre surely looks bleak, but for all the good reasons.
How long until the next full moon？