Review: Old Corpse Road – On Ghastly Shores Lays the Wreckage of Our Lore

Posted: April 23, 2020 in Reviews
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Old Corpse Road - On Ghastly Shores Lays the Wreckage of Our Lore

In the four years since their last full length, ‘Of Campfires and Evening Mists’, UKBM has missed Old Corpse Road. They’ve always felt a bit more visceral than a band like Winterfylleth without losing any of their traditional heritage themes. Their newest album, ‘On Ghastly Shores Lays the Wreckage of Our Lore’ is another fine addition to the canon of black metal from the isles of Britain, and it is out in May on Trollzorn Records.

The ethereal blast of the opening title track sets the scene for the tales of watery myths and legends to come. The tidal, ahem, tempests of ‘Harbingers of Death (Voices in the Tempest)’ sweep you along on waves of icy riffing, while cold melodies seep into your skin and leave you shivering in their wake. Vocals like the shrieks of a howling wind entwine with storytelling elements, bringing us the eerie tales of yore. ‘Black Ship’ is a great example of their epic scale and ferocious black metal combination. Acoustic folk builds into a fearsome maelstrom of tremolo riffing, savage growls and huge clean vocal sections that give this song a scope as vast as the open sea. And when that slower section comes in, with sweeping leads? Oh my…

Old Corpse Road have struck pure black gold on this record. It marries the barely tamed power and rage of traditional black metal to the kind of grandiose folklore vision that the likes of Enslaved or Drudkh brought to the genre. ‘Sea Fire’ feels like if Melechesh were from Yorkshire, not the Middle East; capturing an ancient feel without losing strength. The gothic piano of ‘As Waves Devour Their Carcasses’ provides a ghostly respite from the fury, before the one-two hit of ‘Demons of the Farne’ and the titan ‘The Ghosts of the Ruinous Dunstanburgh Castle’. The former thrashes with fiery fury while the latter soars on a blizzard wind through 16 minutes of some of the most epic black metal you may hear this year.

‘On Ghastly Shores…’ is a black metal opus of grandeur, of blackened majesty and frozen beauty. Old Corpse Road feel sometimes a little unsung beyond these shores, but with albums like this that should change. This is now the high watermark for 2020 black metal. Impeccable.

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