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The last decade really was a good one to be into Runemagick. Unfortunately, yours truly only clicked last year, and here we are in 2010 waiting for the Funeral Orchestra to get round to recording their material for split with Ocean Chief that's been in the making a year or more. But Invocation of Magick followed hot on the heels of Envenom, a companion to it much like On Funeral Wings was the companion to Darkness Death Doom.
While Envenom was like Evoken or Thergothon through a haze of weedsmoke, Invocation of Magick takes a darker tone, and instead of what can only be referred to as phat stoner death rhythm and dooms, the 2006 incantations of Runemagick create an uneasy and dissonant feel. Contributing to this are the less conventional gurgling rasps of Nicklas and his increased fondness for tremolo-picked riffs jarring their patient way across the even more patient rhythm section. The intro/interlude/outro track format is back, but the entire album runs seamlessly together like Envenom.
The mood is not one of anger like the old days of Runemagick, nor dirty filthy death doom like their middle kingdom. Of the trilogy of albums that currently stands as their last output, Invocation of Magick is likely the most sinister and frightening record. 'Preludium Apocalypsis' is clearly intended as a mere revving of the engines, but during the four minutes or so of its duration stands as one of the most terrifying things Runemagick has recorded - until the rest of the album gets going with 'Invocation of Doom Runes.' Nicklas' gravelly expulsions echo eerily and thick, slamming riffs thrust slowly from the monochromatic mirage of fuzz and hissing drums. Mojjo finds further inspiration and improves his drumming style still further, seeming to be experimenting with following the sound and pattern of Nicklas' guitar so closely as to be almost indistinguishable, unlike the improvised-sounding scatters on Envenom. It's almost not noticeable, that's how good this bloke is - but listen carefully, and you'll hear every swell, groove and modulation in the guitars matched and complimented by this talented Finnish sticks man.
Simplicty has long been a key weapon in Runemagick's arsenal, but there is a whole lot going on with Invocation of Magick in terms of songwriting and complexity. 'Black Magick Sorceress' is the highlight of the album, having previously had an EP dedicated to it, and is undoubtedly one of the finest things these three have ever come up with. It wastes no time getting going, and unusually for Runemagick tracks of this era, by the time it's a minute and a half in you've been mercilessly assaulted by driving, heavy riffs and savagely chugging bass. Relentless, it nails you to the ground and won't let you move until it's over. With slower stoner sections and evil wah-pedalled tremolo riffs, frenzied riffs and an insane solo, all at a slow-moving pace, more happens in this 15 minutes than in the career of most other death doom bands: absolutely essential listening for discerning ladies and gentlemen who appreciate doom/death. While 'Black Magick Sorceress' is the crowning hunk of fossilized rock here, 'Fisher of Souls' is a far more complex piece - oh and that's right! The doom snobbery gloves are officially on! Runemagick's output by now is far past the point where we talk about "songs." Instead, don your finest monocle and peer over the opera-hall balcony at the soaring movements of this grisly, groovy orchestration. Peering? Most awesome. This most complex of pieces makes use of some lamenting guitars which then thud into monstrous and throaty rhythms. Bravo! Meanwhile 'The Devils (Imperium Magnum Infernalis)' is almost more in the vein of Darkness Death Doom with a touch of Moon of the Chaos Eclipse to add to the weirdness. The quivering tremolo-picking and throbbing fuzzy guitar tone could only be from this period, but the grand atmosphere and virulent churning riffs make this a definite nod to the past.
The album ends slightly damply; 'The Devils' is the last track with vocals and although 'Conjuration of the Black Shape' is something of a masterful instrumental, stomping forth with the same evil intent as the previous piece before turning into something like a death doom jam session, it all dries up after that. At first some promising guitar noise but then something that sounds like that same guitar noise, sped up and looped repeatedly. Then eight minutes of nothing. Why! This pointless last track, 'Witchcraft Gateways' might be the only massive wet fart Runemagick have ever committed, and although it essentially addends the album with its mostly silent, all useless twelve minutes, it is a part of the album and they are marked down for it.
The penultimate installment of Runemagick's recordings for the past decade, and possibly but hopefully not of their career under that name. Invocation of Magick is slow, horrible, utterly entrancing and an essential purchase following your compulsory acquisition of Darkness Death Doom and Envenom. No other doom death band does it quite like them.