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Extreme metal scenesters may knowingly and perhaps even furtively alert you in a conspiratorial tone that Norway's Okkultokrati belong to a mysterious Oslo clique called the "Black Hole Crew," alongside other local acts like Blackest Woods and Haust, but there's no reason to let this Illuminati-like fantasy (Scandinavians can be such children...see "black metal inner circle") dampen the violent thrills delivered by the band's 2012 sophomore album, Snakereigns. That's because there's actually quite a bit of musical intelligence nestled within these oftentimes savage-seeming sounds. At their core, songs like "No Ouroboros," "I Thought of Demons," and "Unconscious Mind" essentially blast pure Ramones-based punk rock after it's been subjected to 30-odd years of de-evolutionary corrosion, savagery, and filth -- notably marked by pit stops in Venom's Welcome to Hell and Entombed's Wolverine Blues along the way. For their part, the title track and "Invisible Ley" partake of the Hellhammer/Celtic Frost/Bathory brand of proto-black metal: ritualistically absorbed and then projectile vomited forth as only Norwegian acolytes seem capable of. Mind you, most of the songs above comprise as many deliberate passages as blistering, pedal-to-the-metal ones, and extended ruminations like "Acid Eagle One" and "We So Heavy" take all sorts of unexpected detours redolent of black metal's unlikely march toward the avant-garde, only perpetually buried in the putrid crust of grime. Having said that, while the currently popular crustcore sound certainly applies to much of the Okkultokrati aesthetic (and closing outburst "Nothing Waits" in its entirety), there is obviously a broader selection of influences at play across Snakereigns -- window-dressing afforded by those secret cult associations and all.

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