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It had been five years since Incarnatus, the one man mastermind behind Pagan Hellfire had released a full-length album and was it ever worth the wait. Incarnatus does not use any session musicians or drum machines that plague the sound of many one man acts. With this release he has solidified his status as perhaps the greatest true one man black metal band still active today. The music itself sounds like it was master crafted in a desolate frozen landscape with nothing to distract a limitless imagination.
There are no weaknesses to be found on this album or in the musicianship, Incarnatus has seemingly devoted his life to guitars, drums, vocals and most of all black metal. The production sounds 100% natural, no tricks, no effects, just raw musical genius. The riffs are incredibly layered especially since there are often multiple riffs being played on top of each other. The guitars are furiously tremolo picked endlessly creating a beautiful storm of swirling cold emotion. Just like the lyrical themes the music itself evoke a feeling of victory, triumph and perseverance through an impossible battle. Incarnatus creates wondrous, inspiring melodies through an otherwise grim, cold and melancholic atmosphere. When listening to this album I feel like I am the last human left in a desolate ice age destined or doomed to rule alone.
The drums follow suit in the ever changing victory march that the album portrays. There is more range and variation in the drum beats than probably any one man act I've ever heard. Incarnatus can certainly play blast beats and double bass as fast as anyone (see his session drumming with Folkvang) but he uses unique timings and creative fills to complement his own style. There is plenty of blasting since much of the album is played at full speed, but it seems like every song has it's own pattern that calls for something different than the last. The drums definitely keep everything moving forward without much repetition at all just like the guitars.
Incarnatus' vocals are always recognizable and have a sense of confidence or pride, he sounds like a warrior who already knows he's won the battle. His voice is harsh, controlled and somewhere in between a snarl and a scream with a touch of anger. During transitions between riffs he will often let out a long scream that is enough to add another layer of power to the melody. In this case the vocals definitely add to the greatness of the album instead of just being there because they need to be.
This is Pagan Hellfire's best album yet and quickly earned a spot high up in my favorites list. This album is a culmination of all the best things from the previous albums mixed with something completely new and incredible. If you like black metal you must hear this album.