While at pains not to devalue the many innovative and exciting bands that black metal’s evolution has produced, associating even the most languid combination of blastbeats and tremolo riffs with the unholy genre seems to have become par for the course. This trend is something that Ninkharsag is resolutely stamping their boot down upon, with the Liverpool, UK-based band’s debut record ‘Blood of Celestial Kings’ offering an razor-sharp assault of old-school black metal nostalgia, replete with Dissection and Dawn-esque melody delivered with feverish intensity.
Delving into the past both musically and thematically with the blistering opening track ‘The Sicarii’, Ninkharsag’s rejection of modern black metal tropes becomes immediately and undeniably clear. A barrage of icy riffery and infernal vocal orations, the track crafts a malevolent atmosphere reflective of the grandiosity of the ancient Sumerian mythology Ninkharsag take their inspiration from. As ‘Blood of Celestial Kings’ spins on, the album only further reinforces Ninkharsag’s ample musicianship – this ain’t no exercise in lo-fi chord-hammering, with the band’s dynamic compositions being accentuated through a powerful rhythm section, with the bass especially proving an unusually prevalent and driving force. An unrelenting and impressively technical percussive performance lends the tracks further force and aggression, driving the searing riffery home or providing a charging groove that brings to mind the energetic style of Absu’s Proscriptor; a similarity further accenutated in Ninkharsag’s moments of black thrash savagery.
Merging their classic black metal worship with all the benefits of powerful modern production, ‘Blood of Celestial Kings’ proves a refreshing yet reminiscent listen, bringing the essence of the genre’s past to life through a contemporary yet menacing sound. Despite forming just four years ago Ninkharsag are a clearly solidified band, and their musical vision here is brought forth untainted from outside influences and benefitting from an impassioned, dedicated delivery. An excellent debut by a band that are set to bring a touch of the old school to the UK’s already vibrant black metal community, ‘Blood of Celestial Kings’ will put Ninkharsag on every black metaller’s radar in 2015.
Releases 27th April 2015