The Pitch: Colorado black metal duo Helleborus drop arguably their finest material on this new album via Redefining Darkness. FFO: Aoratos, Nightbringer, Akhenaten
What I Like: Now THIS is a black metal release. Out of the hundreds of albums I've covered this year, there are maybe a handful of traditional black metal records that really turned my head. Saprophytic Divinitions is definitely one of them. I already enjoyed 2016's The Carnal Sabbath, but with this new outing, Helleborus have really come into their own. From the tight (but not overly glossy) production to the songwriting and performances; this is a start to finish monument of pure darkness. The emphasis on earworm melodic tremolos as an ongoing theme defiinitely conjures comparisons to the works of fellow Colorado artist Naas Alcameth (Nightbringer, Aoratos, etc.), and let me tell you that some of these hooks are going to be stuck in your head for a long time. "Nocte Amans" in particular really got my motor running. Furthermore the vocal performance is just...utter perfection. Every aspect from the particular choice of phlegmy snarl to the very deliberate cadence seems carefully crafted to oppress the listener into submission. And as if these more obvious elements weren't enough on their own, the use of synths and copious bells take the atmosphere to new heights.
Critiques: Really my only criticism is that there's not too much here to make the album stand apart from its peers. The frequent use of bells gives it a certain tinge of individuality, but beyond that this could have been an album from any number of similar artists.
The Verdict: Saprophytic Divinitations is easily the most accomplished album from the duo to date. Songs are at once intensely ominous and strangely catchy. Helleborus may just be the new kings of the black metal anthem. Don't miss out on one of the best releases in the genre this year.
Flight's Fav's: Nocte Amans, Juniper Shrine, Celetial Grave
- Review by FlightOfIcarus
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