Released: 2015, Battlesk’r
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Given their 23 year history, OSCULUM INFLAME aren’t as popular as you might expect. Disappointingly, in the eighteen year gap between this sophomore and their 1997 debut LP, nothing has been improved in the cover artwork department, with new album, “The Axis of Blood” bearing some awfully tacky skulls. Not that this should give us too much to worry about, after all, “Dor-Nu-Fauglith” looked pretty much amateurish from a glance at the sleeve, but musically it was a triumph amongst the few that heard it.
From one of France’s original black metal bands, this album is disappointingly uninspired and lacks chaos and conviction. Neither innovative nor true to the pure, original BM formulas, this sounds more like a band formed in modern times, with an apathetic attitude towards the genre’s aesthetics. Sure, it feels sacrilegious at times, with tracks such as “Let There Be Darkness” and “Solemn Faith” and technically, all is proficient, with big sounding drums and scooped guitar tones, but this lacks the diabolical dare that fuelled this band’s earlier releases. It lacks passion, and to be frank, sounds like it was made by men made in their 30s.
Black metal’s lengthy history is vastly represented here, with at times a depressive maelstrom of noises and contorted shrieks, and in other tracks amphetamine-fuelled, Inquisition style riffing. It feels like this quartet is pulling out all the stops to keep the noose tied around your neck, but as the album goes on, the knot only comes further undone. The melodic bluesy soloing on “My Angel” doesn’t sound darkly charismatic or impressive, but merely out of place. Everyone once in a while there are some great moments, such as the malicious melodic ostinatos during “Asphyziated Light”, but over all, and despite the attempts of calculated, musical variation, all feels flat.
For those dedicated to the genre, this may worth considering. It’s formulaic, mundane and impassionate at worst, but may still fix a craving for some dark atmospheres, once you’ve ran out of Emperor, Immortal and Burzum CDs (and I mean truly ran out). Considering this nation’s increasing confidence within the extreme metal world, I expected better.
Review by Jarod Lawley