Limbonic Art

The Ultimate Death Worship

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The demise of Emperor left a chasm in the black metal scene, so it's no surprise that Nocturnal Art -- the label started by Emperor guitarist Samoth -- signees Limbonic Art would take a step towards filling the hole. And while Emperor is indeed a touchstone of Limbo's sound, fifth album The Ultimate Death Worship offers enough convincingly strange, avant-garde horror to stand on its own crooked, cloven-hoofed legs. The relatively lo-fi, but still clear, production lends the songs a grainy nastiness that's integral to the overall feel of the record, which strongly represents the ugly, pockmarked side of symphonic black metal. Weirdly effective spoken word interludes and soundtrack-ish elements mesh with blast beats and a horde-of-locusts guitar sound/riffing approach on proudly wretched cuts "Suicide Commando" and "Interstellar Overdrive"; the ten-minute "Towards the Oblivion of Dreams" sports an appropriately labyrinthine arrangement complete with rumbling tympani and grandiose keyboard exclamations, and the redundantly redundant "Funeral of Death" (snicker) closes the album with a chorus of clashing gongs and piercing feedback. Also notable is the tortured snarl of vocalist Daemon, who howls with enough natural, throaty conviction to make one believe he was stretched taut on the rack while recording, therefore lending the record an honestly chilling quality, where most other acts sound sterile and predictable. The only complaint is the keyboards, which often slice through the mix, threatening to blot out the guitars and occasionally offering the goofy pomposity of bad neo-prog rock -- but it's forgivable within the relatively adventurous context of the record. Non-fans of the genre will find more fuel for their fire, Limbo drenching themselves in their egocentric, Norwegian heritage, but black metal enthusiasts will no doubt enjoy a long soak in the blood-filled tub that is The Ultimate Death Worship.

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