The Skull of Golgotha

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Such is the fraternal nature of the underground black metal scene that many of its musicians will busy themselves with numerous projects at the same time, and Finland's Calvarium is one such example. Comprised of three black metal veterans wearing literally dozens of band affiliations under their bullet-belts, Calvarium slowly took shape over two years and sporadic recording sessions, so that their 2004 debut full-length The Skull of Golgotha is actually a merger of two separate sessions taking place three months apart. But, thanks to the group's wide ranging set of shared and separate professional experiences, and the intentionally raw and inexorable quality of their necro-black metal onslaught, chances are slim that anyone will even notice. Think early Darkthrone or contemporary Tsjuder and you'll get the basic gist of Calvarium's timeless, textbook, but still very well-executed brand of black metal, which naturally starts with an atmospheric instrumental opener (the spectacularly named "Three Nails and the Hammer of Satan,"), followed by a hyperactive, sand-blasted outbreak (first song proper "Horns of Hate"), and, segues into the slower, more measured (but almost more effectively terrifying for it) invocation of preternatural forces in their native tongue, "Jumalviha." Except for the surprising use of death metal-style grunting on "Suinatun Surma" and "Dedication in Misanthropy," and very subtle deployment of synthesizers throughout, Calvarium rarely stray from their chosen left-hand path before finally dropping off the edge of the abyss six songs later. And, for fans of the pure Scandinavian black stuff, as it was infamously conjured by Calvarium's predecessors, sticking with the basics may be just what the doctor ordered.