Where can I start with the Finnish death/sludge metallers Black Royal? Well, how about, “fucking awesome”? I had not really heard anything from this band prior to receiving their new album Lightbringer to review. From the first track, I was hooked, albeit that I am a total metal addict and Black Royal added a new death metal sludge filled space to roll around in…
This is an album of mixed sounds despite the bands current given genre. It can’t really be described as any particular sound, but I expect that’s the point. Bands are looking to break the mould and Black Royal have achieved that with their debut. I have been unable to let go of it. Its sludgy sound, heaviness and vocals are infectious and refreshing, I can’t wait to see them live… another potentially great band emerge from Scandinavia, I expect they will grow in the metal scene very quickly.
My favourite tracks are ‘Pentagram Doctrine’, ‘Chosen’ and ‘New World Order’. Here is a breakdown of each track:
1 – ‘Cryo Volcanic’
This goes straight in with a heavy sludgy riff. The song has melody that you can’t help but nod your head along too it. There is some good solo work on the guitar. The drums are not stereotypical blast beats but add to the catchiness of the track. The vocals are guttural but audible giving them a real emotional feel.
2 – ‘Self Worship’
This track goes away from the guttural vocals and sounds more rock & roll or crust punk, Scandinavian style. It keeps with the sludgy pace. The theme is more in line with current time rather than death metal.
3 – ‘Salvation’
This track slows right down into the 1970’s akin to sounds like Black Sabbath with a raw diabolical vocal track. There’s a heavy bass is clear throughout. Doom/sludge metal heaven right here.
4 – ‘Denial’
This one starts off fast and furious, its pace is faster than previous tracks but keeps with the sludge in the chorus. This, as with ‘Self Worship’, has a crust punk/doom fusion edge to it.
5 – ‘Pentagram Doctrine’
The sludge sound continues here, slow and rhythmic when a monstrous riff drops in and fills you with a want to jump up and bang your head. There’s much individualism but overall it’s a good track.
6 – ‘Lightbringer’
Drums lead us in with the guitar taking the song onwards throughout the track. The sludge comes in during the chorus as with other tracks. Despite being the title track, I feel there are better options on the record.
7 – ‘Chosen’
A clean guitar brings this track to life and then explodes into a great drum track. The guitar sounds good and notes are varying. The vocals add an emotional level. Melody lifts this track above the rest for me. I like the vocal sound, gravelly and audible but heavy akin to Cavalera.
8 – ‘Dying Star’
The track sounds like an ultra-heavy Iron Maiden song. It’s a little Eastern in melody, but mid-way it slows right down to a sludge-laden sticky pace making it sound epic. I love the emotion brought in by lead singer Riku Niemelä, it makes the music real.
9 – ‘New World Order’
A total crunchy masterpiece. A real tangible construction you can almost touch. The track transitions doom to sludge to death metal like aggression with relative ease— it’s masterful. Clean guitars and female vocals bring a new element to the table on this one.
10 – ‘Ou(t)roboros’
To finish the album off we go to an instrumental with female backing tracks and spoken word.