"some music was meant to stay underground..."

The Royal Arch Blaspheme - "II" (CD)

The Royal Arch Blaspheme - "II" CD cover image

"II" track listing:

1. When The Cruel Nails Pierced Thy Tender Hands And Feet (5:00)
2. Five Sacred Wounds (3:06)
3. Lust, Blood, Sacrum (1:35)
4. Ashes Of The Holy Ghost (4:46)
5. Profane Rite (4:59)
6. Psalm 39 (4:42)
7. Resurection Of Depravity (5:04)
8. Pious, Suffer In Corrosion (2:16)
9. Vama-Marga (Parts 1 And 2) (3:05)
10. Broken Word Of God (7:58)

Reviewed by on August 31, 2012

"Black metal followers on the hunt for something basic and primal have 'II' to keep busy with."

Black metallers The Royal Arch Blaspheme includes N. Imperial on vocals and John Gelso on the rest of the instruments. For anybody with a faint interest in current black metal, that would be considered a capable duo to take on the genre. N. Imperial has done wonders with Krieg and Twilight, while Gelso has been handling the brunt of Profanatica’s instrumental work since “Profanatitas De Domonatia.” These two decided to start another project, which is steeped in traditional black metal. “II” is the natural successor to their self-titled debut, with limited outreach towards new sounds or a major leap away from what they forged two years ago.

N. Imperial’s spine-curling shrieks are at their peak on “II,” making the blasphemous lyrics more soul-wrenching. There aren’t any good vibes, but there is a limitless supply of anti-religious speech. The variety is only skin-deep, using restrained tempos in well-timed areas to hide the eventual folly of tremolo madness. Those who were privy to the band’s first album will find little deviation from that plan, with the ultimate goal being to drip in evil and slither in decadence and sin with a grin.

Speaking of variety, other than in the tempos, it also comes in song lengths. Unlike the strict adherence to keeping songs to a tight range on the debut, the band is all over the place with lengths of various sizes on “II.” The pairing of a down-and-dirty blackened firecracker like “Lust, Blood, Sacrum” with the level-headed, bile spewing “Ashes Of The Holy Ghost” keeps the listener on its toes, unprepared for what The Royal Arch Blaspheme is ready to hand out next. It’s a feature manipulated throughout the album, and keeps the proceedings heading in an uncertain fashion.

A mention always has to be made when the bass can be heard on a black metal album, and the bass on “II” is as audible as any other instrument. At times, it does the impossible of overwhelming the guitars. “Resurrection Of Depravity” and “Profane Rite” showcase this the best, and the bass becomes as integral, if not more so, than the guitars and drums. The only time it takes a bit of a back seat is in the frosty temperature of closer “Broken Word Of God,” which uses its eight minutes to build a feverous atmosphere.

Black metal followers on the hunt for something basic and primal have “II” to keep busy with. The duo behind The Royal Arch Blaspheme has a firm stance musically that they don’t deviate much from. That’s an uneven decision that gets out some fantastic songs, along with some rudimentary tunes lost in the shuffle. When the band varies the tempo, things go in their favor; when it’s just a gung-ho free-for-all, the material begins to fall apart. It’s not nearly enough to sway away from the lustful black metal within “II.”

Highs: Talented duo involved in this black metal affair, more variety in song lengths, little in the way of filler

Lows: Not much different from their debut album, a few songs are less memorable than others

Bottom line: "II" is far from a big step forward from their debut album, but it is another strong album from The Royal Arch Blaspheme.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
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)