It’s initially hard to put your finger on why these Londoners’ fifth album isn’t better than it is.
The playing is adept and full of personality, and there’s an atmosphere of grimness and decaying majesty that is highly evocative. Add in some darn good ideas and some moments to induce headbanging – the opening of In Solitude in particular – and this should be an unreservedly excellent take on progressive extremity, blending in the drama of black metal with the intricacies of the more jazzy end of death metal’s spectrum.
It’s the small flaws that stop it getting that fun, though. The inspirations are frequently too obvious; the vocals are a wicked but inarticulate croak that sound unfortunately like a cross between Abbath and Frank Butcher; and the hollow production weakens the impact of the guitars badly.
But the main flaw is that it isn’t as cohesive as it needs to be, with songs feeling more like individual good ideas sewn together rather than clear, musical flow. It’s intriguing and heartfelt, but not memorable.