Cirith Gorgor has, frankly put, been around for awhile. In fact, under their current name (they were know as Dark Sorceress for their first three years), 2016 will mark their 20th year active. Since forming in 1996 in the Netherlands, Cirith Gorgor has brought us some of the most consistent black metal, in terms of overall quality, in the genre. Five prior full-length albums have all been met with high praise regardless of where you look. And now, with their latest effort, Visions Of Exalted Lucifer, they have proven once again that they can deliver some of black metal’s best.
As soon as this album takes off with “Salvator” — and I do mean ‘takes off’, this thing wastes no time — we are inundated with blast beats, furiously sliding leads, and echoing barks. Basically, it sounds like black metal is supposed to sound. Continuing through “A Vision Of Exalted Lucifer”, the tinny percussion layered behind consistently intricate guitar passages sounds like a path we have trodden many times before. But we don’t care. Because it sounds right. There is plenty of atmosphere and much credit should be given to the frequently deviating leads that alternate nicely from quick tremolo picking to more drawn out individual notes and chord progressions. Really, all these elements come together to formulate a sound that is admittedly familiar, but impressive in its structural organization and overall quality. Quite simply, it is still very much enjoyable.
But then, as soon as we break into “Of Black Dimension…”, things change. The energy of the album slows and the environment because far denser, doomier, as if matching that of a funeral. The spoken female lyrics interchanged with a dark, booming male voice does plenty to further emphasize this aspect of the album. More focus is placed on the instrumental intricacies and ambiance, which isn’t a bad thing either; it gives the album new character. Yes, we of course transition back into the more traditional black metal elements immediately with “…And Demonic Vision”, but having these few minutes of change have refreshed our listening experience.
After the more galloping “Wille Zur Macht”, we move back into those somber moments in the early stages of “Rise Of Purification – Vanished From This World” and the latter half of the closing “Into The Nameless Void”. The echoing, layered deliberation of the vocals can be a bit cheesy, but much like before, this change of sounds comes at the right place and at the right time. Being able to call upon these varied atmospheric qualities allows an album, that is very much in the traditional black metal spectrum, to remain interesting from start to finish, despite the familiarity.
In all, with Visions Of Exalted Lucifer, Cirith Gorgor make it known that they have become masters of constructing a black metal record. It is a genre they know well, and they prove it immediately. But while the quality of their take on the genre keeps this album enjoyable regardless, it is actually the subtle, yet consistent, calls upon varying tempos and atmospheric environments that project this album upwards. Utilizing elements frequently associated with melodic doom gives Visions Of Exalted Lucifer far more substance and personality, making it a must-listen for any fan of black metal.
“Ein Bier… bitte.”