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Unconventional English black metal - 90%

KingOvFrost, May 4th, 2009

England’s black metal scene can not compare to the quality of Norwegian black metal recorded between 1991 and up to today, but bands like THUS DEFILED, PRIMITIVE GRAVEN IMAGE, CODE, FEN, ANAAL NATHRAKH and now SKALDIC CURSE are definitely proving to be part of a fearless underground UK black metal scene that comprises a lot of talent and experimentation. SKALDIC CURSE formed in 2001, released their debut album “Pathogen” in 2006, and is now out with “World Suicide Machine” on Bergen, Norway based label DARK ESSENCE RECORDS. “World Suicide Machine” could be described as English black metal immersed in a cold Norwegian blizzard as primitive, nihilistic, cold and clinical are all adjectives fitting the description of the album’s sound in a good way. “World Suicide Machine” is well-produced and it’s a pleasant change to hear raw, passionate and complex black metal played extremely well and given a production which enables the listener to pick out individual instruments, including the bass!

Describing SKALDIC CURSE’s sound is a huge challenge as it’s pretty much unique sounding. Imagine KAMPFAR without the distinct and very folk inspired sound mixed with fearless experimentation from the more current KEEP OF KALESSIN releases. Furthermore, one needs to throw in unpredictable and progressive song structures which are reminiscent of ENSLAVED, improvisational alternative dark rock in vein of TOOL and finally some doses of DARKTHRONE-ish nihilistic fury into the dark mix. As one can tell from this description, there’s a lot of stuff going on and the songs on “World Suicide Machine” draw you in immediately, but demand multiple listens, and it challenges the listener with a wide array of sounds and styles.

“World Suicide Machine” features six songs which clock in around the seven-minute mark, each one containing a number of different sections, so the band doesn’t settle on any one riff for long. The intro and outro to the title track is characterized by a clean electric guitar tone which sounds almost identical to the one in “Sorgens Kammer (Del II)” song by DIMMU BORGIR. This clean and epic tone sounds really awesome and it might get a while before one manages to get it out of one’s head. The most distinct feature however, in this track, is the instrumental low-paced dark rock sounding middle section. Everything about the music is just extremely ominous and creepy, but the instrumental middle section elevates it to greatness.

Contrasting heavy and mellower groovy sounding parts are alternating throughout the whole album. It is within the twitching arrangements and complexity of the material that SKALDIC CURSE come to life. They are not content with just thrashing out the tired old formulas; instead the songs are intricately woven around many cadaverous moods, varied pace and terrifying vocals. With its unique progressive and experimental approach to black metal, “World Suicide Machine” is definitely a contender for the best dark metal release of 2009.

--Originially written by KingOvFrost for the now defunct Northern Metal Webzine.