July 12, 2013 | , | 4.5

Aosoth, IV: An Arrow In Heart

Aosoth: IV: An Arrow In Heart

Huh. Apparently, I haven’t encountered France’s Aosoth since their 2009 release, Ashes of Angels. I wonder where the hell I’ve been the past few years. At any rate, Ashes was a great album and a proper introduction to a band that I knew absolutely nothing about. The group’s latest, IV: An Arrow in Heart, is almost a reintroduction of sorts considering they’ve released a few albums since. And I’m glad to be rubbing blasphemous elbows with the band once again.

IV: An Arrow in Heart sees Aosoth combining swirling riffs, evil leads and blasting drums as praise to the Unholy God. There’s nothing beautiful or mundane about the music here. This is ugly, spiteful and hate-filled music made for no one’s enjoyment but the band’s. If you happen to get some sort of pleasure out of it, I doubt they care, but good for you.

The title track opens up the nearly hour long album with an epic course through swelling guitars, despondent tones and frantic drum work that seethes and flows like a shroud of darkness from your speakers. There’s more dynamic structure in this first song than most full albums I’ll hear this year. It’s a dark and foreboding story that Aosoth weave — one that is full of memorable riffing and an atmosphere of dread. The cold chill of the French catacombs is set ablaze with the nefarious “One With the Prince with a Thousand Enemies.” This nearly nine minute song starts off innocuously enough with a rolling bit of drums and airy guitar work before the band unleashes Hell upon your helpless soul right before the three minute mark with blasting drums and driving, vile riffs which continue on and off through the remainder of the track.

For as violent as some of these songs present themselves to be, each one flows smoothly along from beginning to end. Each stands out on its own with more than enough memorable moments stained on your memory as the cloven hoof marks along your hide when the album has come to its finale. But before we get to that point, be sure to check out more thought out and determined “Under the Nails and Fingertips.” It’s a song that starts off slowly with hypnotic, swirling guitars and a steady rhythm for the first two and half minutes — then things get amped up considerably. Both of the “Broken Dialogue” tracks are a short respite from the blackened din, consisting of sound clips and more atmospheric elements, acoustic guitar and identifiable riffs.

Album closer, “Ritual Marks of Penitence,” is a 14 minute long epic journey through time. The song begins gently enough with building drums over the first minute or so as Aosoth settle into a slow moving, churning groove. The song ecompasses all that Aosoth have in their blackened, dead hearts to offer the listener, performed flawlessly. It’s not just enough that the songs on this album are played so well, but the production is spot-on, as well, giving IV: An Arrow in Heart just the right amount of power and cleanliness as is needed. Even if you’re just a passing fan of black metal, sort of like myself, this album should still be on your must-have list.