The Black

Alongside Death

Pulverised Records 2009

You have to be really bold to resurrect the ancient Swedish black metal band, The Black, especially with Jon Nodtveidt being deceased.  And you had also better back it up with some seriously worthy and despotically evil blackness.  The line-up has been fleshed out with two members of Tyrant and some intense and modern Swedish black metal is what awaits you on Alongside Death.  Alongside Death has an instantly recognizable Swedish sound to it and is somewhat in line with some of the modern Orthodox Swedish bands like Funeral Mist, Ondskapt, early Watain and so on.  Opening proceedings with On The Descent To Hell, the music is harsh and sterile as blistering speed and imposing screeches scrape the good from your soul.  Quick, dissonant riffing adds to the callous mood that permeates the track.  Deaths Crown charges forward with a sawing rhythm that then gives way to a monotonous cacophony of shrill guitars and constantly crashing cymbals.  The track is relentless and brings to mind early Funeral Mist with its insane speed, merciless riffing and demonic vocals.  A Contract Written in Ashes is hypnotic and atmospheric in its brooding contempt and its early crawling pace is replaced at length by a more of a rocking beat though after awhile the track begins to drag a bit.  Death Throes twists like a knife in the wound, inflicting intense distress and grievous harm.  The guitars have a really sharp, cutting sound to them and they slash with angular riffs.  The mechanized deep bass sound and pulsating bass guitar build on one another to impose a sense of foreboding onto the listener.  With Alongside Death, The Black has upgraded their early sound and style and brought on a more modern Swedish feel to their music which is both good and bad.  It is good because they have avoided resting on their own laurels and have instead breathed new life into old bones by upgrading the sound, keeping in step with the darkest front runners of the Swedish scene.  It is bad because there is almost no connection to the roots of The Black and with Alongside Death they have somewhat blended in with their peers.  However that is not a bad crowd to be compared with and this is a strong outing for a band that has been inactive for nearly 10 years.  If you like modern Swedish black metal from the ultra-orthodox satanic scene, then you will embrace Alongside Death.