Black metal: a genre that directs as much focus on its image as the music itself. Dark robes, ghoulish corpse paint, haunting atmospheres, and cover art that focuses on terrestrial landscapes, pagan folklore or otherwise fantastical and grand images that invoke a sense of awe and wonder. Dane Cross decided to bring the attention away from image, and demonstrate the classic “do not judge a book by its cover” rule.
Cross is the founder and creator of all music behind his independent black metal project Sacred Son. Based out of the UK, this project is anything but predictable. In fact, Sacred Son’s self-titled debut is one of my favorite black metal releases of the year! The cover art makes you think this will be…well, a bad joke, but it’s far from that.
Released this year on August 25th and lasting for about 30 minutes, Sacred Son’s s/t doesn’t have a single boring moment. The entire album feels like an epic, exiting and hardship filled adventure through the dark mountain of Mordor; it seriously has an atmosphere that will leave the listener breathless. There’s a lot of abrasive guitar work that contributes to this atmosphere, with riffs composed in a way that’s packed with emotional excitement, especially on songs like the opener “Cleave the Alicorn”.
Sacred Son isn’t afraid to tread in unknown places, too. There’s a sense of anxious anticipation for what’s coming next, and it fills the listener with dread and terror as if this were the back metal equivalent to a short H.P. Lovecraft story. The closing track “Sepulchral Ritual” relies heavily on this vibe, and “Apocalyptic Winter” (which is arguably the best song on the album) takes it further by giving the listener pure fucking anxiety with it’s frantic guitars, terrifying vocals and insane blast beats, paired with a groovy riff halfway through right before it plunges back into madness.
The album then calms down with the third track; a slow, peaceful and blissful interlude with nothing more than some soft guitar and some violins. Then right when you think you can lay back and relax, you’re pulled into the chaotic blizzard again for another nine minutes until the album ends. Truly, a work of art.
I feel as if this album is partially made with a sense of humor, like if you show this to a friend that listens to the typical feel good pop song, looks at the cover art and thinks “Oh hey, this might be something like the Chainsmokers!”, just to then have nightmares for days. I think that’s the best part about this album, from the appearance of Dane Cross (he’s not very kvlt-looking, if you catch my drift) the filtered Instagram selfie for a cover, and musically with the anxious and grand feel of the songs: you literally have no idea what to expect. Cross probably thought this would be a good way for people to check out his album actually, and I think he was right. It got my attention, anyway.
Overall, this album is great. For a debut release Sacred Son is really aware of what its doing musically; everything sounds very mature and well-thought out, and most musicians need years to achieve this kind of skill. I’d recommend this to even the truest of kvlt black metal fans, a solid 9/10.
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