Where once black metal revelled in its resistance to other, ostensibly incompatible ideas, today it thrives amid a dense network of blurred lines. As a result, there is something deeply satisfying and reassuring about an album like Sovereigns, wherein imagination and bravery are used to enhance the power of black metal’s essence, rather than to reconstruct it in new forms.
Belgium’s blackest warriors raise their game
Perennially unsung, Enthroned sound determined to shrug off their second-tier status here. The dizzying collision between imperious march and feral blasting that underpins Of Feathers And Flames is executed with utmost precision and vigour, as insidious hooks burst through a wall of six-string hostility and a perfect balance between raw aggression and pristine grandeur is struck. Lamp Of Invisible Lights is even better, its pounding, ominous six minutes recalling the equally underrated Khold.
Elsewhere, The Edge Of Agony’s blur of hyperspeed rage and funereal plod offers a wild adrenaline rush, while the closing Nerxiarxin Mahathallah whizzes by like a runaway train manned by demons. Like black metal? You’ll love this.