When you think of black metal, Africa is probably not the first region of the world that comes to mind. Crow Black Sky are about to change this. Ablaze with skull-crushing riffs and intelligent melodies, Pantheion is an essential listen for metalheads.
Openly acknowledging Opeth and Amon Amarth as influences, the band also exhibit a classical taste as the album begins, before tearing into “Dissention.” Ryan Higgo’s blood-curdling vocals are immediately striking, while his band combine brutality and melody to devastating effect.
Lyrically, the band explore mystical and theological themes. While this is hardly a stretch for bands of this genre, it should be noted that Crow Black Sky do not conform to “concept album” uniformity. This album is in its own field.
“A Shadow Consumes the Sun” creates a feeling of unease in the listener, as if he could sense a mugger lurking behind him. The title track then proceeds into a blast-beat assault on the listener. Don’t say you weren’t warned. At nearly eight minutes long, “Stars of God” is a spiralling epic of a song – a real highlight of the album, featuring some delightful guitar work by Gideon Lamprecht. “Our Path Disdained” gives a slight nod to traditional heavy metal before recoiling into a menacing requiem.
It’s all too easy to dismiss black metal or death metal as “just noise,” and to ignore the technical or even orchestral brilliance that some bands exhibit. Crow Black Sky should be considered masters of the craft. Pantheion is a thrilling debut album. If you’re really thinking outside the box, try listening to this album in the gym. You’ll be a pro wrestler in no time.
Available from Bandcamp.