Although St. Louis, Missouri hardly has a thriving metal scene, it does have a handful of dedicated and consistent metal bands that always seem to surface when a national tour comes through. Such is the case when I covered a recent Dismember/Vital Remains/Grave/Withered show at the Creepy Crawl where one of the opening acts and one of the surprise bands of the night was Harkonin, who I had heard about, but had just never caught at my local metal haunt.

Playing an incredibly competent form of tight, thrashy blackened war metal that has tangible influences (both musically and production wise) somewhere between Angelcorpse, Darkthrone (as their rendition of “In the Shadow of the Horns” that night showed), Forest Of Impaled, Epoch of Unlight, Aeturnus and and Celtic Frost/Hellhammer, this Mid Missouri four piece shows they are able to play with the big boys on there third full length record.

With the high pitched but restrained rasps of Jason Barron spewing forth titles like “Firechrist”, “Dogs of Lucifer”, “Sons Of War”, “Hellspawn”, “Cult of Sin” and “Mystic Gates of Sorrow”, black metal is the over arching permeating presence, but the guitar work of Matt Coyle and drums of Clayton Gore belie a much more thrash based attack which blends well altogether. The song writing does a good job of mixing Occult black metal (“Mystical gates of Sorrow”) and primal blasts (“Nocturnal Birth”), but Harkonin is more effective when delivering one of their more varied, many lurching war marches such as the epic “Caligula” or “Sons of War” which show at their best, Harkonin are a far above average underground American black metal act.

As a bonus, Ghanima comes with 7 re-recorded tracks from the band’s Sermons of Anguish self released effort including a cover of Whiplash’s “Last Man Alive” and one of the band’s best tracks (and fan favorites based on what I saw in concert), “Destined to Conquer”.

Not only is it great to hear a promising, quality American black metal release that isn’t one man droning, but a local band at that. Good stuff, and nice blokes too. Thanks for the shirt lads.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
November 5th, 2006


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