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Storming Heaven

Self-released (2014)
Rating: 8/10

My opinions have always been divided when it comes to American black metal, but every now and then a truly hideous band comes along to restore my faith in that particular underground scene.

The latest bunch just happens to be Fornicus, who were born out of Kentucky. The reason for such a manifestation was apparently due to the guys being engulfed in the local Bible belt, the result being a rather misanthropic eight-track offering created to “cast darkness over the ignorant masses and their foolish dogmas”.

Fornicus is a quartet featuring vocalist / guitarist Scott Briggs, bassist Chris Carver, drummer David Snow and the more recently enlisted lead guitarist Kelly McCoy. Okay, so the names of the individuals hardly suggest disciples of almighty Satan, but the sound channelled from each instrument on this debut platter is one that should be ignored at your peril because this is straight up devilish black metal meticulously crafted and masterful in “chastising Christ” and “destroying God’s kingdom”.

And with that we’re introduced to this album via an atmospheric film sample in which a cult chants some despicable mantra in worship of Satan before the four-piece blasts us with ‘We Are Sin’. Immediately I’m hooked on the waves of black riffage and Scott Briggs’ gnarly tone which emanates from the depths of his scratched throat. This is heavy black metal delivered with mid-paced ferocity and a rattling percussion but above all, it’s the thick, maniacal solos which permeate the foggy groove which add that extra nasty spice. There are more surprises in store for the listener just expecting a straightforward black metal experience, however. Briggs is more than happy to lower his vocal tone into a death metal grunt and growl, meaning that ‘We Are Sin’ is transformed into a truly hideous creation bordering on death metal with a sprig of blackened thrash for good measure.

With the next track – ‘Pallium Mali’ – the band ups the pace; the drums race through a deathly gallop but again the riff is key, embedding itself into the brain with weight and scathing angles. To be honest I haven’t heard black metal this catchy for a long time, but those infectious waves keep coming.

‘King Of The Egoists’ again opts for a deathlier approach with Briggs’ vocals taking on a muffled yap amidst a raging sea of snarling riffs and flailing bass-lines, but again the riff is deep. The riff etches itself onto the psyche in time for the ravenous cover of Sepultura’s ‘Antichrist’, which finds itself sandwiched in-between another batch of harmful expressions, such as the ghoulish epic ‘Into Obscurity’ with its scornful guitar sound and the gargantuan title track with its squirming, contemptuous opening solos and machine gun percussion.

The album closes with ‘The Beckoning’, a manifestation so perverse and twisted in its musical nature that the listener is rendered dizzy by the deathly tumult. Nevertheless, Storming Heaven is still proof that American black metal can still be a serious force to be reckoned with, so give this unholy behemoth a chance and claim your title as the wolf among the blind sheep.

Neil Arnold

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