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After first discovering this band on their 2010 split with the The Meads Of Asphodel and then subsequently obtaining their 2009 demo and being suitably impressed I have every reason to believe that this, their debut full-length album, would be well worth the anticipation. Indeed this proverbial leap of faith has been rewarded as Old Corpse Road have done themselves proud. "Tis Witching Hour......As Spectres We Haunt This Kingdom" is a mighty fine slab of British black metal taking the listener on one hell of a journey through the many folk legends that adorne the British Isles taking in subject matter such as murder, witches, boats, nighttime spectres, goblins and even ale. I say journey intentionally due to the fact that each song is beautifully crafted with many twists and turns leaping out at the listener; not to mention being chock full of plenty of ideas and simply bursting with creativity, without ever feeling too crammed or outstaying their welcome.
After a keyboard intro, that begins subtly before taking on a sinister tone then building into an epic crescendo, the first proper song "The Cauld Of Hylton" bursts forth with blasts (by all accounts this is the drummers favourite track, which doesn't come as a surprise when you hear it) and vocals that vary between high pitched black metal screams, low death growls and emotive spoken words. The variety of vocals used is due to the fact that 4 of the 5 band members are vocalists within Old Corpse Road and pretty much share the duties equally. The effect works superbly throughout the record as well as on their previous two releases. The song has some quite poignant moments as well as an epic rousing conclusion. The whole album is just under 58 minutes long but the time goes by so quickly. Each song stands on it's own. There are no two songs that sound the same yet all sound like Old Corpse Road. "The Hag Of The Mist" makes excellent use of the blast beat underneath a magical arpeggio sound thanks to The Watcher's fine keyboard work, reminding one of Akercocke in many ways. "The Crier Of Claiffe" is the centrepiece of the album with it's very folkish undercurrent whilst "Isobel - Queen Of Scotish Witches" is a slow, sinister and brooding track that includes fire, cackling, blastbeats over a piano and then becomes awash with one of the most beautiful and enchanting keyboard pieces I have ever heard.
This is essentially black metal circa the 90s with a strong (very) early Cradle Of Filth. However this is somewhat of a disservice to Old Corpse Road because they do have their own style and sound in no small to the multiple vocalists, the strong folk element and the lyrics focusing on many British folk tales. Indeed there is something very much distinctly British about this band which may perhaps be another reason why they ended up being signed by Godreah Records and sharing a split album with The Meads Of Aspohdel.
With this album being one of 2012's finest and the band getting ready to do a small tour of the UK, now would be a good time to get involved, check these guys out and support another talented band from the UK underground. Trust me, there's plenty of them and this band is at the top of the heap as far as I am concerned.