U.K.‘s black metal formation Ninkharsag has finally returned with their sophomore offering ‘The Dread March of Solemn Gods‘, released on April 30th 2021 via Vendetta Records. In Sumerian mythology Ninkharsag or Ninhursag was a mother of fertility and goddess of the mountains. Founded by the lead guitarist Paul Armistead in 2009, the band was later joined by drummer Jay Pipprell, rhythm guitars Kyle Nesbitt and bassist A.K.. Ninkharsag harkens back to the nineties era of Swedish black metal, exhibiting the true spirit of grim and melodic black metal vehemence. The latest outing of the Liverpool quartet is based on the accurate inspiration of bands like Dissection and Bathory. On the sophomore effort, they convey a diverse approach to their craft. With epic guitar structures oscillating between swift and mid-tempos, the blazing tremolos provide plenty of soaring lead guitar melodies. The songs on ‘The Dread March of Solemn Gods‘ offer many hooks and magisterial gimmicks.
Opening with some charming acoustic guitars on ‘Night Wrath‘, its surrounding aura of climatic effects creates a dark and frosty landscape. While the cold Scandinavian tone of the rhythm guitars echoes on the eponymous title track, the tempo suddenly becomes agitated by the furious tempo of the drums. Ninkharsag‘s sophisticated composition blends melodies and aggression in a persuasive manner. Each track includes epic features that define the quality of the guitar arrangements. From the first opening moments of ‘Under the Dead Night‘ the band emphasizes the tremolo-picked riffs as they depict the melodic methods of Dissection. With frosted layers of the rhythm guitars, Ninkharsag shows what they’re capable of: bringing in abrasive tremolos with corrosive blast beats adds plenty of swift tempos. The juxtaposition of the storming riffing and the bleak melodies are beautifully layered.
Hooky choruses and soaring lead guitars are intelligently composed. However, the guitar solos are brought by a sense of refinement. The melodies here are the backbone of the songwriting. Therefore ‘The Dread March of Solemn Gods‘ stimulates the strong influences of Jon Nödtveidt‘s musical aesthetics. While the songs mainly erupt at high velocity, the British quartet managed to provide many catchy melodies. The cold freezing riffs are omnipresent with the music fully drenched in bone-chilling harmonies. Although there are hints from other melodic black metal bands such as Lord Belial and Unanimated. The intricate songwriting makes this album essential for the fans of nineties Swedish era.
The catchy tremolo lines on ‘Lunar Hex; The Art of the Mighty Lycanthropy‘ are played at a mid-tempo pace where the riffs swell with blazing melodies. Taking a major step towards perfection, Ninkharsag delivers a powerful album. Most effectively, the songs are crafted by absolute splendor. Many tracks on the sophomore are structured on the Swedish black metal framework. Avoiding the modern, atmospheric style of riffing ‘The Dread March of Solemn Gods‘ is full of gripping moments, blazing rhythms and catchy choruses. ‘The Necromanteion‘ is one of the tracks that resonate with the spirit of heavy metal, the explicit influences to King Diamond and Iron Maiden on this track are brought into focus. The latest album comes as a natural progression from the predecessors. It’s clear that the quartet has achieved a robust performance.
The intense tremolo section has that traditional approach where the bass guitar wafts through the blistering riffs and frequent solos. ‘The Tower of Perpetual Twilight‘ emphasizes slower tempos encapsulating the inspirations of heavy metal. From ‘Specters of the Ancient World‘ and the epic, classic ‘Strigoi Diabolicum‘ the twin guitars offer dynamic and acoustic passages. Filling the textures with cold icy riffs and furious percussion, it is astonishing how the band wraps up everything in under fifty minutes of pure intensity. Despite the fact that there are many bands around that play the same style as Ninkharsag, the quality here isn’t similar to the German black/death metal band The Spirit. The latest effort surpasses anything I have heard in the recent past. The British quartet emerged as one of the true embodiments of the Scandinavian black metal.
‘The Dread March of the Solemn Gods’ is a grim black metal album that involves many epic proportions although for some reason I wished the songs would have more acoustic guitar passages. Nevertheless, this is absolutely recommended for fans of Dissection, Bathory and Emperor.
Release Date: April 30th, 2021
Label: Vendetta Records
- Night Wrath
- The Dread March of Solemn Gods
- Under the Dead of Night
- Lunar Hex; The Art of Mighty Lycanthropy
- The Necromanteion
- Discipline Through Black Sorcery
- The Tower of Perpetual Twilight
- Spectres of the Ancient World
- Strigoi Diabolicum
- The Lord of Death and Midnight (Digipack bonus track)