Maryland-borne crossover alchemists Ninth Realm more-or-less had their first and perhaps most crucial epiphany between 2019’s more traditional metalpunk barked ‘Gates of Tythorin‘ and 2020, restructuring the band with a more aggressive vocalist in Ben Hageage while bassist Liam McMahon (Vile Tongues) switched to lead guitars. Although their impressive second tape ‘All Hail Treachery‘ (2020) appeared to have pulled off the transition with a solid leap in terms of songcraft and hardcore-leaning groove we can now say that it was one (albeit big) step towards an even darker future as this latest release, ‘Ondreis MMXXII‘, hits us with their next level of songcraft. A band sporting this style -should- have their hooks in deep in under ten minutes and in this case Ninth Realm‘d won me over in less than eight with these two songs.

The natural comparison to make at face value here is Iron Age, Inhuman Nature and to some degree the more hardcore leaning groups of that nature such as Judiciary but none of these quite get us to the death metal meets crossover/hardcore meets traditional heavy metal alchemical brew that Ninth Realm are bringing on this tape. When sitting down to do the work of direct comparisons with known quantities and figuring why there appears to be at least a few extra layers of intrigue crammed into ‘Ondreis MMXXII‘ it quickly becomes apparent we can start to look past the surface level ideation of the post-‘Age of Quarrel‘ era of metallic hardcore/crossover and what I’d compared to the high fantasy English Dogs releases to start looking directly towards early-to-mid 90’s Bolt Thrower levels of riff. Just one hit of “Ondreis” should speak for itself in the sense that Ninth Realm appear distinct yet familiar in their elemental construct. Getting the heft of these physical rhythms down to memory and feeling their weight was a quick get from my point of view. Beyond that, the slyly United States 80’s power metal infused arrangements aren’t as prominent here as on ‘Gates of Tythorin‘ though the title track does fit some of this in by way of a bit of ‘Those One Loyal‘ despite the percussive moshable furor overtaking Ninth Realm‘s focus nowadays.

All of these ideas striking hot into something memorable might sound like a puzzle to parse in description but the reality is entirely natural once you’ve sat down with these two songs and let them spin down to their basal rhythms. I’d personally began to hear modulation of what is essentially a ‘To Mega Therion‘-era Celtic Frost touch translate to moshable metallic hardcore clobbered rhythms. All of these references are fairly timeless in their readability so it doesn’t really matter if you look to the 80’s, 90’s or 2010’s sub-genre metal for precedence Ninth Realm are checking boxes that ultimately speak to an understanding of heavy metal and hardcore punk’s most physical interconnections. I’m fully there for it as I think these guys are onto something that stands out in the small (eh, occasionally big label) world of high fantasy crossover/moshcore. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (78/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
TITLE:Ondreis MMXXII [Demo]
LABEL(S):Eternal Lance
RELEASE DATE:February 3rd, 2022
Bandcamp Embed will update on Feb. 3rd

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