Since first being violently spewed forth from its frigidly inhospitable founding lands some 30-odd years ago, black metal has more than abundantly illustrated its rich capacity for sonic evolution and invention. From the stirringly ritualistic majesty of Hellenic metal gods Rotting Christ through to the far-flung melodic intricacies of Melechesh, its infernal, ink-black seeds have since spread far and wide, setting down gnarled, brimstone-scorched roots and flourishing with a frenzied virulence that seems to have reached the very ends of the Earth itself. But, with their electrifying repertoire of pulverising ultra-violence and exquisitely intricate orchestrations, it’s clear that Iranian metal maestros Helzgloriam are so much more than simply the latest in a long line of deliciously macabre extreme artists.
Every bit as thoroughly drenched in brutality and post-apocalyptic horror as its sweepingly epic title might suggest, ‘Decapitated Mystics of the Serpent’ is a blackly absorbing pleasure to delve into from the get-go. Through sultry, elegantly unfurling string arrangements that audibly glimmer with all the sun-scorched majesty of the ancients, instrumental opener ‘Sohor’ has us in its thrall within literal seconds of establishing this utterly entrancing precedent for what’s to follow. Deftly building into the mix increasingly elaborate lashings of epic choirs and Dimmu-esque symphonic flourishes, there’s no mistaking the outstanding compositional ingenuity with which these respective elements have been painstakingly layered and manipulated. Swiftly compelling in pace and expansive in scope, ‘Gorgon Wall’ illustrates ripping extremes of brutality alongside luxuriant layerings of elegantly lithe and gilded acoustics.
Plunging ever deeper into the snaking, labyrinthine recesses of this masterfully crafted long-player, ‘Farahvang’ is a veritable supernova of aggressive energy, its demented hyperblasts gathering frantic acceleration atop immense slabs of crippling bass groove. Crafted with all the meticulous precision and intricacy of fine-chiselled marble, the expansive, distortion-drenched guitar lines of ‘Tēsifōn’ take ample time to work their intensely suspenseful magic on the senses. Revelling in richly cinematic lashings of lofty flutes and desolate banshee wails reminiscent of a scene of bloody ritual sacrifice, this impeccably engineered blend of blistering aggression and deathly atmosphere demonstrates diverse yet fluidly seamless compositional prowess throughout.
But, as a piece underpinning bone-splintering aggression and coldly harrowing atmospherics in bewilderingly expansive abundance, nothing can quite equip us for the devastating work of post-apocalyptic horror that is epic closer ‘Fosil’. Through densely entangled strains of tremolo and crippling expanses of churning groove that lure and entice us ever deeper into their turbulent throes with lethal, coldly inexorable magnetism, theirs is a monstrous, civilisation-levelling presence. Completing this blackly imposing beast of a grand finale with an elegantly sculpted flurry of piano notes whose mournfully plaintive accents abound with infernal, hell fire-scorched beauty, evil has carved out a new home here in these deliciously dark and malicious sonic territories - and its name is Helzgloriam.
'Decapitated Mystics of the Serpent' is out 20th July via Anthrazit Records