Black metal change you can believe in
dB rating: 8/10

Release Date: February 17, 2017
Label: Pagan

Let’s settle it right now: Hope should soundtrack a significant chunk of your 2017. This album rules on so many levels it’s hard to know where to start. The guitar tone and chord choices ring out of black metal’s queasy, roiling pit of mournful damnation without ever slipping toward the maudlin. Percussion is by turns powerful and exquisitely careful, establishing the songs’ rhythms while further crafting their emotional content. Ion’s vocals strike an impressive balance between gravel-gargling hostility and a kind of downcast openness. These four monstrous tracks have been thoroughly composed, with movements flowing past as if the band had simply pointed microphones at some violent natural phenomena and punched the record button. But, of course, the mind-bending musicianship and sheer human passion woven throughout lifts Hope to a level all its own.

Most music—even most good music—never really strikes a convincing balance between aggression and drama. Lots of bands never even seek such a stance, and they instead toil away entire careers in beast mode, shattering ear drums and noise ordinances with great metal songs. Others reach for something more finely orchestrated, but many of those attempts fall prey to runaway ambition. The late Isis located the perfect fulcrum on several recordings. Ufomammut have hit the bulls-eye on more than one occasion. Nearly everything on our Top 30 Finnish Metal Albums of All Time list makes the cut effortlessly. Now we add Poland’s Mord’A’Stigmata to that pantheon of rare and exciting acts who craft the sickest symphonies.

— Daniel Lake

This review taken from the April 2017 issue. Hope is available on vinyl from Pagan Records.

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