Black Metal fans, rejoice!! 2016 is our year!! First it was ABBATH, then DARK FUNERAL. And now, nearly three years after the release of Obscure Verses For the Multiverse, the Dark, Satanic Masters INQUISITION have returned with Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar Beyond the Celestial Zenith (August 26, Season of Mist). Everyone and anyone worth their Satanic salt knows and loves this band, and with good reason. Though I must admit, I was a bit hesitant to come on board a few years ago. Luckily I came to my senses and recognized the greatness this duo possesses.
After the summoning vibe of “Intro: the Force Before Darkness” the album takes off in earnest with “From Chaos They Came”, the blast beats of drummer Incubus and swirling guitars and evil, reptilian vocals of Dagon coming together in a vortex of fury. You can FEEL the darkness seeping into you and taking hold, and it’s glorious; a sweet elixir of blood that continues with “Wings of Anu”, one of the best cuts on the disc, and one that warrants many repeat spins. “Vortex From the Celestial Flying Throne of Stor” sounds really big. Sometimes it’s easy to forget it’s only two men making this music because the songs can be so full.
My runaway favorite though is “A Black Aeon Shall Cleanse”, with its slow, deep, driving riff, and deliberate beat. It’s as if an unholy monster is down the hall and headed your way. Prepare to be torn apart and eaten, slowly and meticulously, your blood washing down every bite. The guitar sound on “the Flames of Infinite Blackness Before Creation” is almost cinematic, and the track is more experience than just a song. “Mystical Blood” is a wallbanger, but in this case it’s like someone’s head being pounded into a wall full of nails with the business ends sticking out. Mmmmm, delicious.
“Through the Divine Spirit of Satan a Glorious Universe is Known” is another winning cut; it’s high intensity with a walloping rhythm and gives way to the title track, which is yet another shining moment on an album full of them. It’s very atmospheric, and calls to mind wandering about the snow-covered hills of a remote, bleak forest. The cold is palpable; you can almost see your breath in front of your face, and feel the chill in your bones. Incubus’ drums anchor “Power From the Center of the Cosmic Black Spiral” which serves as a springboard for “A Magnificent Crypt of Stars”, he and Dagon connecting once again in true manic fashion.
Closing the disc is “Outro: The invocation of the absolute, the all, the Satan” during which time I found myself hoping The Dark Lord himself would make an appearance, and then “Coda: Hymn to the Cosmic Zenith.” Both of these tracks up the Evil Factor and are eerie and sinister, as they should be. This IS INQUISITION after all. When the smoke clears, Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar Beyond the Celestial Zenith is more than worthy of all the pre-release hype it’s been getting, and it was DEFINITELY worth the wait. If you love Black Metal then you’ll love this offering.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “A Black Aeon Shall Cleanse”, Through the Divine Spirit of Satan a Glorious Universe is Known ”, “Wings of Anu”, “Mystical Blood”, “Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar Beyond the Celestial Zenith”