Sonic Reign - _Raw Dark Pure_
(Metal Blade Records, 2007)
by: Jackie Smit (8.5 out of 10)
It's not every day that a black metal band -- particularly one so feral, unrelenting and, dare we say, "kvlt" as Sonic Reign -- is given the opportunity to ascend to the lofty heights of a major independent. Clearly however, someone at Metal Blade was so impressed by this two-man outfit that they not only plucked them from the bosom of their previous label, Supreme Chaos, but have also elected to re-release their debut album.

It's certainly easy to see why the band's flaming pentagram has been on the rise in the underground for the last couple of years. _Raw Dark Pure_ shows no trace of the high-street dross of Cradle of Filth, nor the increasingly rock star semantics of Dimmu Borgir. Instead, Sonic Reign deliver black metal of the grimmest and -- despite its members' German heritage -- distinctly Nordic variety, readily referencing Thorns, Darkthrone, Mayhem and early Satyricon. Each song hits like a spontaneous burst of misanthropic rancor, further empowered by a production job that always borders on but never quite sounds undercooked.

Though their influences are open-handedly evident throughout the record's duration, Sonic Reign have a few tricks of their own too, evidenced by the almost militant breakdown that bookends "Fucked Up But Glorious". Elsewhere, "Reminiscence of Imperial Wrath" hints at what it might sound like if Ministry covered select cuts off _Under a Funeral Moon_ before disintegrating into full-blown hyperspeed savagery.

Elitists will undoubtedly sneer at Sonic Reign's big label creditentials, but _Raw Dark Pure_'s intentions are clear from the off, and the partnership of the ironically not-so-black sounding Ben and Sebastian deliver on it en masse. A stunning effort.


(article published 25/3/2007)

5/2/2007 J Smit Sonic Reign: The Cult Is Alive
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