‘Covenant of Black’ is the debut full-length from Mumbai based orthodox second wave influenced black metal band Stark Denial. Much of the line-up is comprised of former members of death/doom metal band Dormant Inferno though their influences since inception have pulled from Norwegian and Swedish black metal classics. The band’s first EP ‘War’ was decidedly raw and it’s style veered between Melechesh style melodic infused black metal and a heavy dose of Mayhem‘s first album. A lot has changed in the last seven years and Stark Denial’s sound is far more professional. In many ways it resembles the ‘norsecore’ era of Swedish black metal in tone.
Nods to Marduk and some blasted semi-melodic parts that resemble Thy Primordial‘s ‘The Crowning Carnage’ highlight ‘Covenant of Black’ and it’s otherwise standard approach to black metal. The programmed sound of the drums doesn’t entirely hinder the quality of the record but it does stand out more with each listen. The precision suggested by programmed drums hinders an otherwise dark Gorgoroth style orthodoxy that permeates the album, so I’m left wanting an organic drum sound to complete the experience. It forces my focus towards the guitar work, which is successfully rhythmic and unflinchingly quick-witted in terms of black metal riffs.
I found myself less interested in Stark Denial’s debut album the more I listened to it, but there were still some standout parts that I was happy to return to. “Dormant I Lie” has some fantastic lead guitar interplay and riffs a cut above most other tracks on the record. “Carnage Angel” is my favorite track here with some nice melodic black metal guitar work and it’s unusual outro. The inclusion of their 2014 single “Hyllest Til Kulten”, a song in tribute to Euronymous and the Norwegian scene, is one of the better composed songs included here. I may not be fully impressed by their recording techniques and songwriting but this is a solid debut from a dedicated independent black metal band. Recommended for fans of second wave Scandinavian black metal.
|Released||March 25, 2018|
|BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!||Follow Stark Denial on Facebook|
Descending below. 2.75/5.0
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