I’ve been on a bit of a black metal kick of late, and one band that has scratched that particular itch is German trio Stiriah and their third album, Portal, released back in February.

Lying squarely in the 90s second wave, with a semi-melodic and symphonic sound (there are keyboards here and there but it’s not full tilt/bombastic) there are a lot of recognizable influences here from early Emperor (especially the absolutely feral screams of Tyrann, which admittedly do grate after a while), Dark Funeral, Dissection, and many others.

The production is crisp and razor-sharp while the 9 songs make for a bit of an overly long 52 minutes, there is some blistering stuff here. That said the album takes a song to get going with ferocious but forgetful opener “Sterbend im Nebel”, and it’s not until the second track “Portal” that the early symphonic Emperor-isms come through in throttling fashion, including some distant clean croons. The next 7 songs through ” In Der Nacht”, “Schwarzes Nass” to seething closer  “Tempus” all deliver the same relentless, shrill take on scathing black metal with a few subtle keyboards and clean vocals here and there. And at times it hits pretty fucking hard such as “Ein ewiger Kerker” or “Die letzte Ebene” (where the Emperor-ish keyboards return). But at about 7 minutes each on average they start to outstay their welcome.

However, when all is said and done, what the album has in pure viciousness, it lacks in some dynamics. The songs generally have the same pacing even when they do take a breather. I wish the band’s songwriting matched the intensity. And around song 4 or 5 Tyrann’s vocals, make my ears ache a little.

Still, the album does scratch that black metal itch I have, though fellow Germans Dauþuz should make it go away completely with what I’ve heard from the upcoming Uranium.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
March 28th, 2024


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