Belgium’s Saqra’s Cult unleash an unstoppable half-hour of dense, haunting, and fierce black metal on their sophomore full-length, The 9th King.
Weaving together traditional black metal sensibilities with twisted instrumentation and themes revolving around Inca culture, The 9th King features a unique take on the genre that will rope in listeners of every stripe. With only four songs and 30 minutes at their disposal, Saqra’s Cult make every blistering minute count and will more than appease the forward-thinkers, and even convert the purists.
The album’s nearly 10-minute title track kicks everything off to an unnerving note with unhinged, ritualistic chanting that paves the way for lengthy barrages of chaotic black metal. The guitars writhe in spastic fashions atop hyper-speed drumming as the vocals transition from raspy shrieks to the aforementioned chanting. The typical bursts of tremolo-picked chords associated with the genre make an appearance, naturally, but are soon marred by angular riffs and atonal melodies that throw everything off-kilter. This unpredictability is what characterizes the whole of the record.
“Endless Devotion” is probably the more “straightforward” of the tracks on The 9th King, what with its Scandinavian rushes of tremolo-picked hell. But like the rest of the album the traditional black metal characteristics are eventually taken over by the band’s eccentricities, which in “Endless Devotion”‘s case means nauseating rhythms and disjointed melodies. Then “Legends of Pururaucas” follows next with trudging, malevolent doom that gradually spirals out of control. The song features a back-and-forth interplay between thrashing riffs and whirlwinds of jagged licks throughout, making for some grade-A discombobulation.
The eight-minute “Last Denial” closes the record out on a doom-filled note. The track stampedes out of the gate with thick, steamrolling riffs that are accompanied by seasick dissonance. The song then reaches a sprawling midsection comprised of haunting melodies that coalesce into assaults of vertigo-inducing, noisy riffs, before returning to the blast beat driven aggression that preceded it. As the track reaches its end, everything from the twisted guitar riffs, to the shamanic chanting, melds into cacophonous devastation.
All in all, The 9th King is a quick, but certainly not painless release that is frantic and staggeringly heavy. Die-hard black metal fans would be wise to check this record out.
Release Date: January 11, 2019
Label: Amor Fati Productions
Favorite Tracks: “The 9th King” and “Legends of Pururaucas”
For Fans Of: Craft, Mgla, Deathspell Omega and Sargeist