The majority of Norway’s population belong to the Lutheran Church, but strangely enough Norway’s biggest international export is Satanic black metal. And why shouldn’t it be? Norway gave us EMPEROR, MAYHEM, DARK THRONE, GORGOROTH and BURZUM, just to name a few. It can be difficult to differentiate the truly Satanic bands from the ones who just use it as a theme, but when churches are being burnt downand decapitated animals are being used as stage props, it’s hard not to take them at their word.
So it isn’t surprising that Greek black metal band LORD IMPALER chose to mix and master their latest release, Admire the Cosmos Black in Gjerstad, Norway. But they didn’t stop there; LORD IMPALER hired ARCTURUS’ Knut M. Valle for the mixing and mastering, and as if that wasn’t enough black metal cred for them, they even managed to convince metal legend Hellhammer from MAYHEM to act as their session drummer. With Satan obviously on their side, Admire the Cosmos Black was completed and independently released by the band.
From beginning to end, this 10-track beast pulverizes your ears while adding a melodic quality that ties everything together without any filler. The Norwegian influence is constant throughout Cosmos Black, with an added sense of neoclassicism, which makes the album a bit more accessible than most black metal releases. The beginning track Twelve Thrones Eternal hooks you in with a crescendo of noise, which is suddenly cut off by a blasting drum attack and memorable guitar hook. Hellhammer works the double-kick pedal like a true legend and tightens up the entire album with perfectly fitting leads and fills. The most impressive and finely crafted track, Dreamtime Heresy is saved for the final 11 minutes and 32 seconds of the black menagerie. The band experiments with constant progression, polyphony combining distorted and clean guitars, feedback and low-pitched drones. With each play (and a decent pair of headphones) more and more layers of noise can be heard, which gives the album a solid wall of sound, keeping the music thick and full.
I’m not a huge black metal guy, and I feel like some black metal elitists may turn away from LORD IMPALER due to their stellar production methods and more accessible nature, but I think this album kicks ass. It’s finely crafted, well thought out and progressive while staying true to the roots of black metal. So check it out! And if any churches in Greece are mysteriously burnt down, you’ll know who to look for.
By: Graham “Gruhamed” Hartmann