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Black Royal - Lightbringer Award winner

Black Royal
by Martin Knapp at 15 April 2018, 9:24 AM

I’m probably neither the first one nor the last to say that it is difficult to pin down the style that this four-piece band from Tampere, Finland plays. Sometimes it’s akin to the heavy, dense, repulsive blackened sludge of bands like PRIMITIVE MAN or IRON MONKEY, sometimes one gets more groovy stoner rock riffs straight out of ELECTRIC WIZARD or BONGRIPPER cook book, at other times one gets more death n’ roll vibes reminiscent of GOREFEST or post-“Left Hand Path” ENTOMBED, and the listener will surely also detect some post-hardcore influences. The list of stylistic influences doesn’t end here, because we also get some hefty BLACK SABBATH worship here, especially in some of the lead guitar melodies and solos that break up the sonic onslaught of primitive riffs.

You can’t be blamed for not having heard about these guys before. “Lightbringer” is their full-length debut, so far they only released two EPs. But the finesse with which they tie into a cohesive whole such a range of stylistic influences on their latest effort testifies to their high musical adeptness. One other thing that I came to appreciate about “Lightbringer” once I dug deeper into the music was the concept of the album and the lyrics. The album tells a story of world where religious belief is disappearing and is replaced by a doctrineless mindset. The lyrics are full of philosophical and Satanic references, and Satan figures here as a liberator of mankind from it’s delusions. I have to give it to the band: this New Agey stuff has me pretty interested.

The narrative arch of the story also divides the album into two thematic blocks that differ in their atmosphere: the first half is more aggressive, the second half has a more solemn tone with some NEUROSIS inspired atmospherics. The albums opens with the song “Cryo-Volcanic” that is one of the more death-metaly songs on this album and it gives the listener a good taste of how raw and hard-hitting BLACK ROYAL can be. The second song “Self-Worship" is one of my favorites on this album. The song starts off with a fast, groovy stoner/doom riff, which builds tension for a big, impactful chorus that will get your blood pumping. “Pentagram Doctrine” the hook-laden chorus is carried by some pretty aggressive death-metal riffing. “The Chosen" is a quite atmospheric song with a kind of cathartic feeling to it. “New World Order” is another more brooding, expansive song form the B-side of the album. The slower, melancholic ending of the song even features nice jazzy female vocals.

“Lightbringer” is an impressive album - be it because of the tight riffs, great guitar work, refined arrangements, and impactful atmosphere. BLACK ROYAL have a diverse yet cohesive sound, they can be raw or refined, they can make you blood boil and fist pump, but also get you in a reflective mood. I’ll be definitely looking out for what these guys will release next.

Songwriting: 9
Memorability: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. The Cryo Volcanic
2. Self-Worship
3. Salvation
4. Denial
5. Pentagram Doctrine
6. Lightbringer
7. The Chosen
8. Dying Star
9. New World Order
10. Ou\[t]roboros
Jukka - Drums
Toni - Guitars, Vocals (Backing)
Riku - Vocals
Pete - Bass, Vocals (Backing)
Record Label: Suicide Records


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