originally written by Jim Brandon
As the summer rapidly begins winding down and the chill of fall looms in the not so distant future, we are getting mercilessly bombarded with promos here at Metal Review, and considering the caliber of bands releasing fresh new material, there’s a whole lot of Hell — and a little bit of Heaven — to blissfully sift through. Comprised of three members of Drudkh, a band that will be unleashing its divisive Handful Of Stars very shortly, Ukraine’s Blood Of Kingu takes a wide sidestep from the aerial sounds of their more renowned main project. Much like debut De Occulta Philosophia, the mystical Sun In The House Of The Scorpion picks up from where the now defunct Hate Forest directly left off, delving into the heavier side of black metal while still retaining a limited degree of dense atmospheric qualities which assists in adding some dimension to an otherwise very straightforward method of songwriting.
I’m immediately struck by how intense and burly the guitar tone is on Sun…, quickly distancing itself from the piercing treble that is utilized with earlier Drudkh material. Roman Saenko’s throaty, bellicose roar combined with the harsh guitar tone sometimes borders on death and more melodic doom metal, a definite plus in an overcrowded black metal scene where purposefully weak production still manages to rear its grossly outdated and ugly head. The very to-the-point style of songcraft, however, is both a strength and a weakness since the band pretty much stays the course of blast-heavy, tremolo-swathed bluntness, creating an overwhelming sameness to the majority of this brief album. At least it’s consistent in that regard.
With the nondescript closing cover of Beherit’s “The Gate Of Nanna” out of the way, the sparse thirty-six minute running time absolutely flies by, and the sprawling centerpiece “Incantation Of He Who Sleeps” alone takes up nearly a third of the overall length of original material to be heard. Considering the interchangeable nature of most of these tracks, it was a wise decision to keep things abbreviated and reduce filler to an absolute minimum, making the softer more shivery aspects of opener “Herald Of The Aeon Of Darkness” and “Those That Wander Amidst The Stars” more noticeable.
The production of this disc is also slightly unusual. There are times when Saenko is all but buried under the weight of the instruments, like during “Cyclopean Temples Of the Old Ones”. The snare is also placed rather high in the mix, and it has a flat banging-on-a-cardboard-box sort of tone to it, which wouldn’t be so bad if the drumming was a bit more adventurous than the predominately regulation blast assault. Yet even as I type that, “Morbid Black Dreams Bringing Madness” attempts to prove me wrong with an intricate drum pattern that adds an ethnic flourish to help break up the rigid pattern the band adheres to.
There’s not a whole lot left to add, even though it’s taken me a long time to process what does and doesn’t go wrong on Sun In The House Of The Scorpion, because its festering rage doesn’t require an in-depth description in the end. This is a muscular, abrupt exhibition of solid and entirely unspectacular black metal, which while expertly performed, lacks the compelling attributes that will stand above the rest of the pack this year. Highly enjoyable and essential for some, I can recommend Blood Of Kingu to those who like receiving a good smack or two and won’t mind being able to walk away from this in one piece while still wanting more.