Spring boarding off the much deserved success of their 2017 debut “Black Mass Ritual“, UK Black Metal outfit Formicarius return with their latest chunk of audio devastation. “Nine new tales from history’s darkest pages, the most harrowing of nightmares and the endless void that lies between the stars”, looking in particular at the Dark History of Christianity and its past horrors.
This time around the drum work is handled by sticks man extraordinaire, Kevin Paradis of Benighted, Svart Crown and Melechesh, to name a few and Formicarius and have also managed to secure collaborations from a couple of guests for this release, which I will elaborate on later.
One of the main things I like about Formicarius is they don’t follow the standard Black Metal formula, they are quite individual in their sound and delivery, preferring to carve their own niche, It fits the remit but goes beyond, in a unique meandering way. The use of keyboards is subtle and controlled, vocally interesting too, with a predominantly acerbic throaty main vocal sound, bolstered by and low growling vocals which make a great combo, courtesy of guitarist/vocalist Lord Saunders, backed by bass/vocal work from Hægtesse, but the absolute jewel in the crown is the superb lead work from Nazarkardeh, aka Paul Nazarkardeh from UK Death Metal juggernauts De Profundis.
The album opens with a wall of driving riffs and drum battery, “Beyond the Veil of Flesh” which forges darkly forward until midway when a bass element heralds a direction switch and elevation of mood, the first to boast a huge chunk of that lead work, in the latter part, which enthralled me so.
The haunting “Dieu Et Mon Droit” has an addition to the vocal layers, female vocals, which I suspect is keyboardist Morath, adding an extra dimension and “Within the Depths” has a soaring majestic opening, and I love how the driving riffs are punctuated with technical elements, a punchy sinister number.
One of my favourite tracks is “Early Will I Seek Thee” which features, Sakis Tolis of Rotting Christ who delivers a spoken ‘invocation’ and I believe midpoint harsh vocals also, and Nico Millar of UK Black Metallers Aklash on violin towards the close, the lead work is more subtle across this track but still excellent in its delivery.
“Inherit Our Sickness” has yet more killer lead work melded with some great keyboard work, another favourite with me and on “The Fourth Horseman” keyboards have a very dramatic effect once again on this sinister yet catchy piece, another track which caught my attention.
“Stalker Among the Stars” is a mix of haunting and punchy, together making a superb combination and ‘Crimson Plague’ predominantly up tempo, punchy and an immediate attention grabber, largely thanks to the straightforward but hugely catchy riff patterns employed ,and then the closing lead work, which is to die for!! Closing on the driving “O, Dread Impaler“, a dark, sinister end to a fascinating album.
“Rending the Veil of Flesh” will be out on Schwarzdorn Production on Sept 13th and is highly recommended listening.
Rating – 4/5