Before black metal took off big time in Norway, there already existed a small but active Finnish scene. Lapland in particular seemed to be an inspiring environment for the young genre, with two of the most prominent forerunners hailing from Rovaniemi by the Arctic Circle: Beherit and Black Crucifixion. Both have been through long times of inactivity but have been back in business for a few years now, and Black Crucifixion´s 2006 album Faustian Dream was in fact their first full-length release ever - fifteen years after the band´s inception. It was followed by a live album, a compilation and, two years ago, a 20th Anniversary live album spiced with four new studio tracks. The new album Coronation of King Darkness, in other words, is only the second full length studio album by a more than twenty-year old band. Not much in terms of quantity, but fortunately the quality makes up for a good deal.
The most surprising advance news about the new album was the announcement that Black Crucifixion had teamed up with Pekka "Rekku" Rechardt, guitarist of 1970s progressive rock legend Wigwam. The result is nevertheless clearly black metal, if very melodic, varied and organic. Although all song titles are in English, the lyrics are partly in Finnish - the latter typically reserved for the most intense passages, e.g. in the title track. The relatively short "What The Night Birds Sang" is the "pop" song of the album, but "Heroes End Up on Gallows" returns to singing "songs of Satan" (to quote from the text). The long and meandering song strays down many paths before converging them into one of the albums catchiest riffs at the end. "Millions Of Twigs…" in turn starts out very straightforward, but its stripped-down, mantra-style middle parts needs several spins to sink in and the ending comes a bit too abrupt for my taste. "Threefold" regains the momentum, building up tension slowly through its restrained yet intense vocal work - in the course of the album, singer Forn explores his whole range from whispers to screams. "In The Bright Light…" starts with an ominous intro before coming on at full speed and with full force. Short but powerful. However, it´s the last two songs that are my favorites by this point. "Lodestar" is fairly simple but all the harder to get out of my head, and features a beautiful guitar lead; and the epic "Thieves" recapitulates and rounds off the album dramatically with marching drums and compelling vocals.
Black Crucifixion may be a late bloomer in terms of making albums, but judging from this sophomore, the band certainly doesn´t suffer from lack of ideas or creativity.
1. Coronation of King Darkness
2. What the Night Birds Sang
3. Heroes End Up On Gallows
4. Millions of Twigs Guide Your Way Through the Forest
6. In the Bright Light of Night I Await the Turning Tide