After two demos, this Florida duo drops its debut full-length, Et In Saecula Saeculorum (on The Ajna Offensive). It's amazingly mature in every way. Not only are the songs intricate and fully realized, they also come from older sources. Venom and Celtic Frost come to mind, though not in imitation but inspiration. As Buddy Holly put it, "My lonely heart grows cold and old."

The "cold" part comes in the production, which has '80s-esque, copious reverb and delay on drums and vocals. The gated drums feel especially retro, and while I usually don't like this sound, it works well here. The "old" part comes in the riffs and vocals. This album is black metal, but spiritually it comes from a time before the genre lapsed into rules and conventions. Thus, you get actual riffs, and they're meaty and evil. The vocals are dramatic and also quite old school; they don't make singers like this anymore.

But the band outfits the old spirit with a new chassis. Songs are long and complex, typically lasting around nine minutes. Church organ and tubular bells interludes add atmosphere. The guitar work is rich, utilizing a wide variety of techniques (palm muting, pick tapping, jangles, trills) without devolving to wankery or loss of raw feeling.

A Church in Ruin

EISS has the best album artwork I've seen in a while, with classy gold text, understated layout, and cool images for each song's liner notes. The image above does the artwork no justice. Seemingly no one on the entire Internet has done a decent scan, and black metal distros all too often list inventories entirely in text. Trust me, this is one hell of a package. Pick it up

@ Amazon
@ Metalhit
@ The Ajna Offensive

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