Curse, Scarred, and Forever Possessed
For a music genre, black metal, that in its purest sense has such a narrow sense of parameters, obviously there is going to be the need for occasional purges. Hence, somewhat absurdly, Celestial Bloodshed claim that Norwegian black metal is dead... um, long live Norwegian Black Metal. Looking back to the likes of Burzum and Gorgoroth for inspiration, and to this reviewer's ears, bearing more than a passing resemblance to the likes of Corpus Christii and Glorior Belli, Celestial Bloodshed concoct a fervently devotional homage to the spirit of OG black metal. No thrash influences, no death influences, no melancholy passages, just cold unyielding surges of ill-feeling; that curious mix of depression and imperious rage that makes for compelling listening. On it's face, yes, that's what "Cursed, Scarred and Forever Possessed" is. Then why isn't it paper thin pastiche like so many bands who claim to evoke the one true spirit of black metal? The production on "Cursed" is compelling and ghostly: the rhythm section is amped-up and pit-deep, bludgeoning echo instead of clacking typewriters, the vocals are a clean and low unrestrained roar - often panning back and forth between the two speakers, the guitars are an inexorable wall of barbed wire with whirling solos that sound like a bag of broken glass, and I swear to god you can hear chains clanking at several points during songs. It's a tomblike, ambient, airy production where you can't trust your sense of depth perception. "Cursed" is THIS close to being a headphones record.
The album length hearkens back to classic thrash and grindcore days - thirty minutes and we are so fucking out of here - and that's another reason why I'm perhaps more positively inclined towards "Cursed, Scarred and Forever Possessed." It doesn't overstay it's welcome. This is a an album of hollow-eyed, raw, black metal that comes in just fucking blazing and then is gone lick a flash like a black cat brushing by your leg. Just much, much louder.
- Matthew Moyer