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Swirling, Miasmic Blackness - 90%

TheStormIRide, August 28th, 2019

Four years after their phenomenal full length, Gift, Blackdeath, one of Russia’s longest running and most consistently impressive black metal bands, unleashed their ninth full length album, Phantasmhassgorie. The album was released by three different labels: Heidens Hart for a digipak CD and 12”; Hospital Productions for a cassette version; and Fallen-Angel for a jewel case CD. Longtime followers of the band have come to except tight black metal compositions with an experimental tinge, and Phantasmhassgorie does not disappoint.

As with past material, a casual listen reveals the bands roots in the second wave, as the music waxes and wanes between pummeling tremolo runs with blasts and melodramatic, atmospherically charged nuance. That being said, the band’s experimental edge continuously creeps out, be it the intrepid interplay between the bass and the guitar riffs or the constantly shifting moods and tempos. The result is a constantly shifting landscape of slightly off-kilter, twisting black metal. The forty-five minute album feels warmly familiar yet, at the same time, certain aspects feel alien and uncomfortable; an unyielding onslaught of commotion and turbulence.

The album feels vaguely similar to the schizophrenic vibes of their seventh album, Phobos, though where that album felt a bit mashed together, Phantasmhassgorie reveals itself as a completed puzzle of variables. Welding together the mid-paced crushing groove of “Gott ist mein Hass” with the cascading progressions of “Hass aus dem Himmel”, Blackdeath deftly pieces alternating currents into their most cohesive and entrancing album to date. Though the past two decades have shown the band members to be more than competent musicians, this latest offering really highlights their abilities: Polar Maya’s drumming is incredibly tight and multi-faceted; Abysslooker’s riffs are a constantly shifting flux of darkness and twisted anger; and Para Bellum’s bass lines offer a vast depth with striking counterbalance, while his vocal lines are depraved, seething, and forceful.

To say that Phantasmhassgorie is the Blackdeath’s most striking album is an understatement. The album just continues to grow and unfold into a swirling concoction of everything that makes black metal work (and with more than a dozen listens in, I don’t think it’s going to let up anytime soon). Not many bands are able to continue with passion and conviction after a twenty year career, even less are able to constantly shift and experiment with positive results. With Phantasmhassgorie, Blackdeath remains Russia’s finest black metal export and show no signs of slowing down.

Written for The Metal Observer.