The history of black metal is one that can be divided into
two hugely separate subsects: the first- and second-wave of the genre – both
focused more on lo-fi extremity and envelope-pushing – and post-black metal,
which leans closer to ethereal progressiveness and ambient dream rock. Aside
from the most basic of aspects, these two portions of the black metal timeline rarely
intersect, with newer names like Ghost Bath and Deafheaven feeling almost
oppositional to such gritty innovators as Mayhem and Darkthrone.
This is where Ba’al come in.
The band made their rowdy debut in 2017 with their half-hour
In Gallows by Mass EP, and in doing
so united black metal stylings old and new with a ride simultaneously ambient
and insanely heavy. While opener “Black River” begins the EP with a
crescendo of down-tuned sludge and agonised wails, the bridge of the lengthy “Days
of Yore” rings with a slow, undistorted and clean-sung refrain.
It’s little wonder, then, that Ba’al are already beginning
to make waves, laying out a monster of a set on the New Blood Stage of
Bloodstock Festival earlier this year, before receiving acclaim for this, their
first ever release. For fans of Wolves in the Throne Room and Barishi, the Ba’al
hype train is one that you had better leap onto immediately.