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With the whispered line "I ascend" Sworn to the Dark is kicked off. What lies ahead are eleven tracks of uncompromising black metal, combining the musical furor of black metal with the dark occultism of the ancient myths and the stench from the newly opened graves.
The lyrical work of this album is probably what gets to me the most, especially the lyrics for the second track, Satan's Hunger, which actually sends shivers down my spine, and the final hymn, Stellarvore. Across the board, however, the lyrics are well written and perfectly suited to the music itself, as one would expect, and with a touch of reverb, E's rasped and snarled vocals help create an atmosphere of extreme terror and fear. The vocals are neither the high-pitched howls of Malefic in Xasthur or Varg Vikernes in early Burzum, nor are they complete death grunts. I would go as far as to say that E has got one of the most clear throats in black metal, without missing out on any of the fury and hatred which he spews out, seemingly inspired by the vaults of death and destruction. Some have compared him to Dead, which is not completely false, but he does however bring some of his own personality into the singing.
The music itself then? Surely, the vehicle upon which the Beast of Watain is riding must be of equal strength and hatred to the vocals? Indeed it must, and it is. Crisply produced, without being overly processed, every piece of the instrumental armory stands out, each without dominating the soundscape, instead creating an unholy trinity of sound - Drums lay the foundation and leads the music unto an unholy march, the bass sometimes seem to live a life of it's own, only to in the next moment fall in line and follow the sonical charge, complementing both the drums and the guitars, which are precisely executed with both skill and ferocity. The riffing is not the most complex of this time, but it does fill it's part and does so with great result.
So how does it actually sound? It has got a sound of its own, being sometimes mid-tempo and sometimes blazing fast, without being continous blast beating Ã¡ la Panzer Division Marduk. There are obvious ties to Dissection, music-wise, but to these ears it sounds better and angrier. As before, there are ties to the early black metal bands, but still with a personal touch that has granted this LP a special place on my shelf.
I would recommend a visit to their myspace for a glimpse into the music itself, as it is hard to put into words the fear, hatred, terror and anger this superb record creates in the listener.
As mentioned, Satan's Hunger and Stellarvore are the favourites lyrically, but other great tracks are Legions of the Black Light and Storm of the Antichrist.
However, it is extremelly difficult to single out just one or four tracks to define the album, one must listen to the complete picture in order to grasp the vastness of the abyss created in the Necromorbus Studio. A must buy for fans of modern black metal still connected to its firm roots.