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Heresiarch - 85%

todesengel89, December 16th, 2011

The experience of the members in Mhorgl is evident, with the numerous acts that each of the members have been a part of (including Louis, who played drums for Singapore's Impiety as well). The band releases their third full length album Heresiarch this year, one short year after their previous effort, Antinomian. Reviews of previous releases see people talking about the unique style of black metal that the band plays, and this certainly gets me fascinated, not knowing what to expect on Heresiarch.

Despite the melodic black metal tag that some have given the band, what is presented by the band right from the start is aggressive and furious raw black metal. Right from Inheriting the Mantle of Power, the band does not give the listener any chance to back off, hitting listeners in the face with their speed and intensity. Without having to wait for much longer, the band displays the variety of styles that they have incorporated in their music, with guitarist Robert punctuating trem-picked riffs with constant pinch-harmonics, adding a unique flavour to the music. Furthermore, the guitar solos that are provided on the album are mostly full-on shred, fully displaying the capabilities of Robert on his instrument, with bassist James providing the rumbling low-end with his bass. Drummer Louis displays his hyperactivity behind the kit, not stopping for a moment and not displaying a single sign of tiredness despite the speed that he is blasting at. The urgency that the band typically travels at reminds listeners of bands like Absu as well.

The songs that the band has written also do not follow any conventional black metal patterns, with songs like Ophidian Legacy providing an almost progressive touch to the style of the band, and the fiddling with the guitars at the background makes the song sound almost avant-garde and experimental. The whole wall of sound provided by each of the instruments makes for this album to be a busy one, as every single moment is filled with activity by more than one single instrument, keeping listeners enchanted throughout. Even so, the band manages to display the emotions that are present on the songs, through the desperation in Sam's vocals and the urgent lead guitar lines of Robert.

Throughout the album, numerous influences from various other genres can be spotted as well. Songs like Black Wolf Militia even incorporate riffs that sound like it could come off a rock & roll record, and Ravenous Warlord provides some punk-ish moments as well, further pushing the boundaries of what "conventional" black metal entails, though there are also moments of black/thrash metal littered throughout. Then there are the soft moments on the album like on the interlude The Seed of Rebellion and Hostis Humani Generis, where only an acoustic guitar is present, sounding like it could come off a Neil Zaza album with the soothing and calming melodies, marking the opening and closing of Fallen, and this is definitely a nice touch to the song. Later tracks also make use of such techniques as well, to my pleasant surprise.

Heresiarch, while having incorporated elements of numerous other genres in the songs that are present, is still fundamentally black metal. This album is certainly not recommended for traditionalists and would perhaps make an enjoyable listen for the more adventurous fan of extreme metal, who are looking for a break in the monotone in the black metal circle in recent years.