Humut Tabal
Dark Emperor ov the Shadow Realm

I like surprises, and a concept based black metal album from Sumerian deity named band  from the depths of Austin, Texas certainly qualifies as a surprise, especially when its this good.

The band has a couple of splits and one debut album from 2009 under their spiked belt, though this is my first exposure to them. They have a rather distinct sound, even for Texas black metal being very rooted in the classic Scandinavian black metal bands like Dissection, Mayhem Emperor, Dark Funeral and such, but they really do have a rather unique delivery with some very technical busy and melodic riffage and drumming that’s very un-black metal. With the shrill, busy and layered harmonic riffs and structure as well as a undercurrent of epic war metal and shrill vocals, I get a heavy sense of US black metal act Epoch of Unlight also.

Many black metal purists will also bemoan the drums of Njord. They have a very distinctive, rigid tone, and are more rooted in jazz polyrhythms  used intech death metal,  to the point where I actually thought they were programmed but correspondence with the band stated they were real. But once you get past it, it all comes together to form a very impressive release.

The 8 songs are mostly a decent length to convey (according to the bands’s bandcamp page) “the tale of a misanthrope in a post-apocalyptic wasteland who experiments with established occult practices before looking solely inward and transcending the physical and spiritual bonds of the world and of human preconception”. The tracks are for the most part high octane and shrill tremolo picked riffs with some very subtle keys here and there, but there is some very clver layering and melodies used on these songs that really give the band some character.

The urgency and controlled chaos that rings of Epoch of Unlight is apparent right away with the first few moments of openers “Across the Boundless Land Ov Death” and “Through the Forest and Twisting Shadows”, though both eventually settle down into more regal, restrained pacing. The fourth track, “In Purest Silence” is a reversal, starting  as a slower number showing the band’s ability to reign things in a bit when needed, then exploding into a shrill tremolo blast and back again with a really nice melodic  cantering climax at around 3:30. “The Wielder of the Demon Blade” starts off a little unstructured but settles nicely into a more mid paced moody number that is my least favorite track on an otherwise tight, energetic album. But “In the Shadow Ov Lord Satan’s Wings” atones with a blistering pace and is one of the album’s best tracks.

The closing title track aptly ends the album in structure and mood, being a well rounded at the same time rousing and somber closing piece to tie up the story and the album. Humut Tabal is  onto something here within USBM, being neither postrelated or bestial, but having a European flair and sense of dynamics that’s something relatively unique and I look forward to hearing more.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
July 25th, 2014

Comments

  1. Commented by: gabaghoul

    this is really good. great melodies and songwriting. love the old-school sound and the occasional death metal insertions.


  2. Commented by: PK

    The vocalist reminds me of Jens from Naglfar’s first three albums. Which is a very good thing.


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