Review by Sonny for Cirith Gorgor - Onwards to the Spectral Defile (1999) Review by Sonny for Cirith Gorgor - Onwards to the Spectral Defile (1999)

Sonny Sonny / October 10, 2022 / 1

I'll just start by stating that I've become somewhat disillusioned with black metal over the past few months. I'm not sure if it's because the inate frostiness of black metal doesn't sound the same in the sweltering heat of the summer months just passed here in the UK, or (and more likely) I've just become more disillusioned with the dilution of the core of black metal by any number of recent releases that subsume the inate ferocity and savagery of their black metal content, resulting in what, to my mind at least, feels like a gentrification of the genre. Thankfully October has seen a couple of albums cross my path that have re-stoked my inner fire for black metal. One was Behexen's debut Rituale Satanum (via the review draft game) and this, admittedly to a lesser extent, was the other.

Onwards to the Spectral Defile, at it's best, concentrates on enervating and energetic black metal that is loaded with aggression and a formidable fury. I wouldn't exactly call this raw as the production is a bit too meaty for that, but it is visceral and savage nonetheless and harks back to the best of early Gorgoroth or Marduk. I would have liked to have heard the drums a little bit higher in the mix because drummer Levithmong (not his real name I suspect) batters away with a controlled furiousness that impressively drives the material along despite his efforts not sounding as prominent as I feel they deserve to be.

This isn't exactly an essential black metal release by any means and the band's efforts to throw in some variety by way of more melodic or less frantic sections aren't consistently successful, but when they hit their stride there is enough fire and fury present to satisfy my old-school black metal cravings. I think I would have preferred them to have stripped-out the attempts at variation and to have doubled-down on sheer black metal beligerence and in so doing serving up half-an-hour of red-in-tooth-and-claw black metal, in the vein of Gorgoroth's first two or Panzer Division Marduk. Taking it as it is, though, leaves an impression of a band more than capable of delivering the type of black metal I delight in, but who are hampered by a need to inject some variation which results in a few less than satisfactory moments. The piano outro is one of the parts in question and is totally redundant to my way of thinking, having no relationship at all with what has gone before.

As I was previously unfamiliar with Cirith Gorgor, they have piqued my interest with their debut sufficiently that I feel I need to find out how they developed on subsequent albums and so will almost certainly return to explore their discography further at some point.

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