For a band to stand out in the modern age, much is called for. A fresh sound, or a new take on an old sound, can lead a band into the brilliant light of day, propelling them to success, “kvlt” or otherwise. With the two members of Greece’s Nigredo hailing from Ravencult, Embrace of Thorns and Dephosphorus, they’re not unknown, and with this being a much-discussed record, expectations are high as your writer presses play on ‘Flesh Torn – Spirit Pierced.’

Previous full length ‘Facets of Death’ was a fabulously shattering, buzzing rampage through some ugly black turf, with hints of Devouring Star, Carpathian Forest and the aforementioned Ravencult, but signed to Indian extremity kings Transcending Obscurity, ‘Flesh Torn’ is a different beast entirely.

Bounding into existence with their Thrash thoroughly Blackened, Ten Repellent Antiforces has an air of Deathspell Omega covering The Crown; a very serious party indeed. Ravencult’s A. does a Culto, handling guitar, bass and vocals, with a truly urgent sound in all respects. This translates to a raging – though surprisingly clean – delivery for the most part, even during convoluted blasting tracks like Necrolatry.

That’s part of what makes ‘Flesh Torn – Spirit Pierced’ stand out in the muddy storm of cerebrally-inclined Black Metal: clarity. Yes, it’s all very fierce and grim, but the listener gets to hear exactly how fierce and grim for the full 41-minute run time. There’s all sorts of stuff floating around in here, from the rotting rock and roll of Mental Glimpses at Cosmic Horrors to the deliberately jarring Saturnian Death Cult; even a flicker of everyone’s favourite trans-dimensional Aussies on Towards the Monolith.

Nigredo don’t just share the feeling of some of their riffs with Portal. First listens showcase a dense, punishing, deathly black Metal record, but repeated listens cough up a different story. It’s not that surprising given the nature of the other bands that A. and drummer Maelstrom are involved in that the real occult lies in the details. Without the – admittedly rather buried – bass, this would remain a labyrinthine, knowingly aggressive album. Even the shortest songs have twice the content and riffs you’d expect from their size, and the closing adventure Raging Tides of Time, with its sneaky injection of what could almost be major-key work, is magnificent.

To get right into those details, there’s a few hidden treasures that make this album such an engaging listen. Moments during and between tracks yield glimpses into the production itself which, to this writer at least, reveal the most beautiful part of the record. The bass drum sounds like a bass drum – ever so slightly flabby instead of a brick-hard trigger; the vocals have the sound of the room they were recorded in around them, and both the guitars and bass sound almost unbearably determined. Nigredo state on their Bandcamp page that they deliberately removed all positive aspects from this record, so that the listener gets caved in by negativity and anguish; indeed.

The effect of this is that ‘Flesh Torn – Spirit Pierced’ is an album that you won’t listen to only once. That would miss the point entirely, but even a casual listen would draw in the mildly curious. A genuinely earnest and fundamental intent has resulted in a fantastically aggressive, surprisingly elegant exercise in unwavering resolve with very few shortcomings. It’s not a reinvention of the wheel, but a wild assessment of it, and if you’re looking for a record to shake off your orthodox Black Metal cobwebs, this is it. Super.

GET YOUR HANDS ON NIGREDO’S ‘FLESH TORN – SPIRIT PIERCED’ FROM THEIR BANDCAMP HERE!

Nigredo - Flesh Torn - Spirit Pierced