Words by Carly Gibbs
Ah, Valentines Day. A day that sends romantics into a loved up, consumer driven frenzy and singles into the closest watering hole, indignantly brandishing their middle finger to those couples sickeningly canoodling in the corner. But! Never fear, my friends because this Valentine’s Day is set to be different. This Valentine’s Day, February 14th, Black Royal are releasing their follow up album to ‘Lightbringer’ titled ‘Firebride’ and I am sure as hell going to be dropping some pretty unsubtle hints to my partner for the next few months about this one.
Formed in 2013 in Tampere, Finland, the quartet have crafted their own brand of sludge-heavy, Scandinavian death metal that is repulsively infectious. Their own description of Death ‘n’ Sludge is one that encapsulates them perfectly with as they put it, “Black Sabbath in one ear and Entombed in the other”. If you normally shy away from things within that sludge realm for fear that it can become a little monotonous or slow and dense then Black Royal is here to violently burn that notion to the ground in vitriolic flames. The album is expansive in its scope and sits somewhere between Ghost, Behemoth and Down at times with its punishing low end, groove filled sludginess and viciously brutal but intelligible vocals. Sonically, it is a step or two removed from ‘Lightbringer’, previously described as Death Blues and firmly wedges itself in the extreme as a formidable force.
Whilst boasting such a range of stylistic influences one could assume that it could be detrimental to the cohesiveness of the album but, it is nothing but cohesive.
The first release, Pagan Saviour, from the album was dropped in November last year and is a foray into the duotheistic world of wicca.
“The song was inspired by the witch hunts, paganism and war between early Christianity and ancient mythology,” explains Black Royal’s vocalist, Riku. “It’s about how the church forced common people to follow their laws and rules and criminalised all other ways of life in order to control citizens and the state.”
The film clip is visceral in its imagery with scenes from an occultists wet dream. It’s not overly graphic but I wouldn’t suggest watching it at work unless, of course, your employer is a fan of Pagan women drenching their exposed breasts in blood. And in that case, play it loud! Pagan Saviour has a big swagger and the chorus vehemently demands that you shout along and aggressively pump your fist into the air.
The remainder of the album is a brutal assault on the senses with doomy riffs and ominous, goading melodies that on self-reflection, had my face contorted and scrunched in that “hefty blast of metal right to the earholes” look that you get when you hear something demonically dark and primitive. Track two, Hail yourself, especially so. Oh, and I hailed! Another stand out track on the album is Gods of War. The opening riff is reminiscent of Mastodon’s Blood and Thunder but rapidly takes off on a completely different trajectory. “Repent like never before” is a standout line.
With their debut album ‘Lightbringer’ being nominated in Top 10 metal releases of 2018 in Finland by Inferno Magazine there is a sure bet that ‘Firebride’ will be wreaking havoc and taking souls the world over on its release.
If you are fan of any of the bands that were mentioned above then I would heavily suggest marking this one in your calendar anticipating its release.
Influences: Entombed, Nine, Carcass, Down, Corrosion of Conformity, Crowbar, Celtic Frost
Jukka – Drums
Pete – Bass and Backing vocals
Riku – Vocals
Toni – Guitars and backing Vocals