The many different avenues that can be taken with black metal alone will likely never cease to astound me. Given the right set of hands, you can very easily get a performance in the same vein that cannot be considered anywhere close to another album of the same breed with time only allowing that to happen more and more as bands become all the bolder as we move forward. Even so, many find wonder in not pushing innovation quite so hard as they decide to further the glory of the original flame as best they can in their own way. Despite having only released their first album last year, Stormruler is already back with material that is quite gripping right from the beginning with enough flair to catch your attention and loyalty to many of the original roots of black metal to make you wonder what else they can deliver in such an exquisite form.
I would be lying to you if I didn’t say that I was surprised once I found myself firmly in the depths of Stormruler’s sound. Given the cover art, massive tracklist, and the overall vibe that everything gave me, I was halfway convinced that this was going to be a symphony-laced work of black metal that barely qualifies as black metal, but, rather, that couldn’t be any further from reality. For the whole of the 20 tracks and over-70-minute runtime that “Sacred Rites & Black Magick”, Stormruler not only manages to deliver a performance that is straight melodic black metal with a fantastical flair that cannot be ignored for all that it elevates for the record since it first gets going, but it all comes together to make for a lengthy performance that is wholly Stormruler’s. It speaks to the talent and mastery that’s at play for every moment of this album as never once does Stormruler lose your attention for its magnificent backdrops and themes playing to the strengths of the band’s sound that are only enhanced by the melodies, riffs, and hooks that are to be found all throughout “Sacred Rites & Black Magick” with even the every-other-track interlude offering a brief reprieve of excellence and shift in tone that lets the album take on a life all on its own, tying it all together and bringing a flow to it all that is quite delectable in even its smallest moments.
Woven into one cohesive piece, it’s hard for me to stare into “Sacred Rites & Black Magick” and not feel as though Stormruler is a name that is to be respected in any form for if this is what the band can deliver on their second album then who knows what the future has in store for the name? This is far from a creation that will launch Stormruler to the forefront of the world of black metal, but damn if it doesn’t put the band down a path of glory that is a true wonder to behold!
“Sacred Rites & Black Magick” releases on October 14th via Napalm Records!
LISTEN to singles from “Sacred Rites & Black Magick” on Bandcamp here.
LIKE Stormruler on Facebook here.