Setherial - _Lords of the Nightrealm_
by: Henry Akeley (
Formerly, this gaggle of corpse-painted prodigies were proud purveyors of ambitious, atmospheric, outdoorsy black metal in the style of Emperor: just check out _Nord_, the band's truly excellent debut. Now, after some lineup changes, Setherial offer up 47 minutes of no-nonsense, harrowing black aggression ala Marduk or Dark Funeral. Discerning metallians may well infer from this comparison that _Lords_ is not exactly teeming with musical variety -- and it's not, in addition to being barren of any real originality. Still, it contains plenty of simple-but-effective riffs and oodles of overdriven speed, along with just enough variation and flow to make this, in my opinion, the strongest album yet to emerge from the Marduk-Abyss-DF-Immortal school of straight-out hyper-blast. Unlike Marduk, this record doesn't degenerate into musical tedium once the novelty of its incredible intensity wears off, and, unlike Dark Funeral, Setherial isn't lame. Rather than blast-beating themselves into a repetitive rut, these guys blend ferocity with structural fluidity, and they do it with the help of some great riffs: stark, pained, sometimes haunting, eerily draped over incessant drum detonation and strident flame-thrower vox. Needless to say, the drumming is incredible; good production, too. All in all, this is too formulaic to really knock my socks off, but as the saying goes, it most certainly does "kick ass" -- the offending boot, in this case, being of the flamingrimspeedexplosionmetal variety currently sported by many a sword-wielding Swede.
(article published 2/5/1997)
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