Review Summary: The most sinister sound on this side of the Mississippi.
Metal loves its themes and theatrics. This statement shouldn't come as shocking. Well documented are the likes of Lord of the Rings keyboard driven atmoblack (Summoning), as are Egyptian scalings and mythological musings (Nile), as is blackened death metal that chronicles Cthulhu in all his evil aquatic overtones (Sulfur Aeon). Yet I cannot, even with this diverse array of sounds, feel as though the extreme spectrum is missing a contender…
Spaghetti Western black metal. Now, this could immediately be misconstrued as a meme pushing just how far genre fusions can go, however hear me out. How often have unlikely contenders been smashed together to warp our perception on just what great music can consist of (all eyes on Imperial Triumphant)? That is not to say that Hymns of a Godless Land
exudes that same level of wonkiness or eccentricity, quite the contrary. This EP is fun, sharp, and thunderous, wholeheartedly bringing vivid imagery of old timey cowboy standoffs as you find yourself immersed in a wind-whipped dust bowl, baking beneath a scalding sun as you prepare for the most wicked hip fire you can muster from your rusty old revolver.
This is accomplished through a myriad of ways, the best of which are represented in what may be the best blackened hymn of the year thus far, "A Devil on Yonder Ridge". Twangy acoustics lead seamlessly into sweet sweet galloping riffwork, culminating alongside some truly fierce witchy shrieks that make up a goddamn earworm-and-a-half of a chorus. This seamless transition of twangy acoustics and more traditional, biting and raw black metal is something present throughout the entirety of this EP, rearing it's just as well off of "Orb" (albeit in a more grinding, even melancholic fashion). This can also be seen (Heard, for those of us who are not blessed with the gift of visualizing notes spilling from our earbuds) off of the first track "Farewell to the Old West", as an echoing and cathartic riff drawls on into a rather jolting and rabid riff, with snarls just as manic to match.
Really, the only unfortunate aspect of this EP is that it is brief, as of course one tends to be. It leaves behind a slight
sense of unfulfillment, that there is a grander scheme to be revealed, a well of potential that has yet to empty its reserves. On the flipside this in of itself is exciting, as one is left to ponder just what the apex of this concept is. Until that moment we are left with this short lived gem, as we board our horses and blaze onward towards the west of Texas. Or downstairs to down a bag of lays whilst marathoning Breaking Bad for the umpteenth time. Whatever. Jam this.