Skaldic Curse - Devourer
Self-released
Progressive Black Metal
9 songs (1:01:49)
Release year: 2013
Bandcamp
Reviewed by Goat

Five years is a long time in metal. Back in 2009, former reviewer James was quite impressed with Skaldic Curse's second album World Suicide Machine, hailing it as a standout from the (then-)impressive UKBM scene and looking forward to the band becoming a big name. Well, Skaldic Curse split up in 2011 (never let it be said we don't get the odd one slightly wrong!) and this album, their third, originally recorded in 2009 but only released partway through 2013, is sadly not going to make them a big name retrospectively. It should, as it's a pretty darn good album, which you'd expect for a band featuring talent from the UK scene as widespread as members of Fen, Indesinence, and former Akercocke guitarist Paul Scanlan (here dubbed, as James pointed out, the very silly Scapula).

As before built on aggressive riffing and coruscating vocals from Woundz (*sigh*) this is about as as close to a post-Mayhem black metal sound as you can get, building on the riff-driven formula of the Norse godfathers' more technical side and bringing that Wolf's Lair Abyss sound into the present with a very progressive mindset. (That one track here is called Psy-war Approaching is downright spooky!) And it's a really good sound, a sound that deserves better than an almost embarrassed release on Bandcamp over four years after it was recorded. You really should look at Skaldic Curse as a voice in their own right, however, as the title track alone proves they have something to say with its prog-tinged meanderings, more reminiscent of Scapula's former band Akercocke than the one true Mayhem, building to a Satanic peak from layer on layer of riffs and screams.

Opener Last Humanoid Howling locks into an epic build early and takes full advantage before a shift into blackthrash gives the music a bit of oomph, driven by the riffs and allowing them full power. End-Earth turns slightly groovier before going first dissonant and then proggy, allowing the guitars to lead on and following them devotedly, taking you with them for the whole nearly-eight minute length. There's a slight foray into Immortal territory with Bloodstained Asylum, seeing Woundz changing to an Abbath-y croak, but the music continues to yearn outwards, pushing the riffs towards an altogether more progressive territory. Whatever track you're on Skaldic Curse sound hungry to prove themselves, from the violent black-thrash of Impact Winter to the crushing depth of Abduction Void, which moves from sludge-tinged prog to wild soloing, and which only goes to make their break-up extra tragic. Perhaps at over an hour Devourer is slightly too long, when all is said and done, but considering it's the band's swansong and is available to download for free (name-your-price from the Bandcamp link at the top), complaints feel very ungrateful. Well worth your attention.

Killing Songs :
Last Humanoid Howling, Devourer, End-Earth, Impact Winter, Torus
Goat quoted 83 / 100
Other albums by Skaldic Curse that we have reviewed:
Skaldic Curse - World Suicide Machine reviewed by James and quoted 80 / 100
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