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Sulphur EP

Mortis Humanae Productions (2014)
Rating: 8/10

Having only formed in 2014, the debut EP from mysterious quartet Incipient Chaos is a decent slice of French black metal.

I expected this to be a rather rushed affair, but this is indeed a well-structured and solid opus which supplies melody, weight and rawness all at once. Whereas a lot of black metal seems to spend most of its time attempting to tell us how evil and dissonant it is, Sulphur exudes a confidence and raging harmony which jolts throughout.

The guys involved have gone under rather mysterious pseudonyms, namely; I (guitar), II (guitar), III (bass), IV (drums) and yep, you guessed it, V (vocals). The quintet is very musically accomplished, offering rather stark, pitch-black passages of metal which hints at traditional sub-divisions, but more so it’s a case of blackened thrashing and wicked, slower grimaces – particularly in the scowling vocal department.

Of the five tracks on offer, the band reaches its peak with the closing title track which is a doom-laden affair that begins initially with bracing blasts of icy blackness before gradually slowing in sparse, tundra-like episodes of gloom. It’s such a meaty opus of varying atmospheres, but it comes best served up with those mid-tempo hooks where the drums are a mere stark nod and the guitars meander with utmost malevolence and foreboding. In fact, for a band in its infancy, this is some well-rounded and arrogant black metal morbidity where the guitars exist as sneering, brooding creatures of malicious intent while the bass rumbles effectively, with the overall result being a dense wall of grimness.

Another favourite has to be the simmering pits of ‘Black Hate’ with its lumbering introduction and whining chords of melancholy and suspense. Indeed, “suspense” is the word of the day here for a combo with such an eye for catchy segments and sinister cacophony, all caressed with those vocal slurs which gorge upon simple yet engaging lyrics. ‘Black Hate’ spews out such gems as “Arrogance and greed; My mausoleum will be made of black hate”, while on the much shorter expression of ‘War. Blood. Flesh’ V mentions “A shimmering pyramid flies, Above the rotten mass of the battleground, And on each side, a name, engraved”. Vocally however, the snarls and spits have more in common with some of Germany’s best thrash bands at times, such is their frothing nature and their ability to work in tandem with those hastier whips of speed.

Each track drags the listener into its oily coils, and no mercy is given as each wave of swagger of nastiness prevails. The last line of opening track ‘We Live’ pretty much sums up the blackened barbaric nature of this feast: “Dominate… ’til the last breath of the Earth”. With that, Incipient Chaos makes its mark on our brains as if the devil had branded us with his sizzling hoof.

Sulphur is a very fulfilling dose of slick, blunt and superior black metal… not for the faint of heart.

Neil Arnold

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