On album number five (and first in five years), the black / thrashing maniac Spaniards in Körgull the Exterminator have turned over a new leaf and found their sensitive side. From the meditative Nick Drake reverie of “Firing Squad” and the Joni Mitchell-inspired vulnerability of “Prophecy of Black Blood” to the Indigo Gi-
[sound of distant hoofbeats, motorcycles, chainsaws, inarticulate howling]
The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘ennui’ as “the st-
[sound of a damn fool reviewer having a heated conversation with the business end of a poleaxe]
Friends, we like our fun here at This Website You Are Visiting Dot Com. The only new leaf this band has turned over (or ought ever to turn over) is one to find a place to wipe their hands after the egregious bloodlet of the aforementioned poleaxing. Given the grin and abandon with which Körgull the Exterminator wears its influences, one hopes they forever remain allergic to progression. Which is to say, yes, you likely know all of the signposts that light up these loins: Kreator, Sodom, early Voivod, Bathory, Venom, Slayer, Aura Noir, maybe a teensy whiff of Immortal ca. Sons of Northern Darkness.
After label-hopping to Norway’s Demonhood and Germany’s Ván, Sharpen Your Spikes finds the Körgull horde back on the home turf of Spain’s Xtreem Music, and if the band’s production and songwriting acumen have improved from album to album, the foundational sneer and swagger has not flagged. The production is nicely balanced, with the guitars angling towards either a tensile thrash bite or a needling black metal whine as the moment demands. Javi Bastard’s bass has an excellent gnarly tone without trying to get too close to Blacky’s inimitable “blower” bass tone. Lilith Necrobitch’s vocals, meanwhile, bring a real sense of charisma throughout. Even though her tone doesn’t vary drastically throughout, she has a flair for dramatically drawn-out phrasing and her tone manages to be both throaty and a little wailing at the same time.
The songs and riffs actually get a bit more complicated and twisty as the album goes on, which makes “Follow the Flame” one of the best songs on the album. The gang vocals are another nice touch on the closing track, “A Black Bird is Always a Warning,” which stretches out for a slightly more epic feel – not quite “Enter the Eternal Fire,” but it has a little bit of grandiose flair in its otherwise frantic windmilling.
Look, friends. I’m not saying that I WOULDN’T listen the everliving shit out of a Körgull the Exterminator Joni Mitchell cover album. I think it’s important for us to be honest with each other. But this is not that album. Sharpen Your Spikes is exactly as greasy, mean, raw, and fun as you likely imagine it is. Don’t be a chump and get poleaxed.