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Immolith - "StormDragon" (CD)

Immolith - "StormDragon" CD cover image

"StormDragon" track listing:

1. The Invocation
2. Torch of Baphomet
3. Rites of the Blood Moon
4. Storm Dragon
5. The Ghost Tower of Inverness
6. The Obsidian Throne of Azazel
7. Hymns to the Countess
8. A Pact of Blood

Reviewed by on January 25, 2012

"Even though black metal is a scene over-saturated with poor knockoffs, every so often we need a good throwback album like 'StormDragon.'"

Immolith’s “StormDragon” is not a black metal experimentation that will take the scene in a new and exciting direction. While the thought of new ideas and sounds coming to black metal is appealing, the old guard still conveys an atmosphere, savagery and plain evil unmatched by another form of music—a notion fully understood by Immolith. Even though Scandinavia’s roots have been dug up time and time again, to the point where the metaphorical soil now lacks nutrients, I would much rather hear a band revive the magic of Mayhem’s “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” than “Ordo Ad Chao.” Immolith restores this magic, and even though the group doesn’t bring anything new to the fold, they do it with power, conviction and skill.

“StormDragon,” Immolith’s debut full-length, contains a great deal of atmosphere without the use of keyboards. Isiamon’s echoing voice has a spooky, enchanted-forest-like resonance. This, combined with quick tremolo picking, recalls the demo days of Emperor before adding keyboards, but with a more palatable production. While Immolith taps into the cold, unclean spirits of ‘90s black metal, the group’s production doesn’t suffer from the same impurities of those classics. Their notes aren’t buried in the mire of loud drums or poor recording equipment.

Lack of chord progression is one area that holds back “StormDragon.” Fans of Burzum and “Hordanes Land”-era Enslaved will find no fault with repeated notes. Groups find a good riff and ride it hard, which can be hypnotizing at best and boring at worst. Immolith often finds a simple-yet-effective riff and pushes it through most of the song, utilizing one or two changes. Often, this rhythm is fast and blasting, and a sole guitar harmony adds subtle change.

One of the best chord progressions occurs on the title track. Here, a Middle-Eastern-like harmony appears around the two-minute mark, imbuing the song with a sense of early Marduk. From mid pace and slow droners, to straight-ahead speed,” The Ghost Tower of Inverness” is one of the more diverse songs for tempo. Album closer “A Pact of Blood” begins on an old-school, evil death metal note, but soon pushes ahead with the higher notes that tend to define black metal. Being another standout track for its diversity, this song even caters to the thrashing blackness of bands such as Dissection and Swordmaster.

Few albums capture the (black) magic of the true kings of Norway. We hear the chords and the vocal patterns of that time, but most bands are merely wanking off the dead dick of Euronymous. Even though black metal is a scene over-saturated with poor knockoffs, every so often we need a good throwback album like “StormDragon.”

Highs: Echoing vocals, speed and cold guitar tones.

Lows: The rhythms become a bit repetitive.

Bottom line: "StormDragon" is a solid, true black metal album.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)