Album Title: 
The Immortal Cult
Release Date: 
Monday, August 31, 2015
Review Type: 

Blåkulla are an outfit by a French guy who calls himself Surtr Blackmoon Emperor aka S.B.E. (sometimes also active as Sveigdir Bölverks Einherjar). He released two recordings before, Darkened By An Occult Wisdom in 2011 and the EP Hymns To The Past Glory in 2013. Now he returns with his second full length, which gets released in an edition of 1,000 copies via Lower Silesian Stronghold, the label of Dark Fury’s band leader K.

With Blåkulla, S.B.E. brings a straight-forward, uncompromising form of rhythmic, epic and traditional Pagan Black Metal, quite melodic in riffage, and extreme in rhythm section and voice. The extremity of that rhythm section that I just mentioned, well, that has to do with, for example, extractions like towards the end of Pagan Baptism; but actually, throughout the whole album the whole album gets sort of pushed by heavily beating drum patterns and masterly executed bass and rhythm guitars in order to strengthen the epic soul of the songs. Melody-wise, here too the basics of the Pagan current are gloriously present, being structurally based on melodious riffing (everything from Desaster over Mordaehoth to Pagan Assault come up with comparable initial elements). Especially the leads are exceptionally persuasive right here (an example: check out the creations in The Eternal Quest to find out what I am writing about). The vocals too are quite specifically related to the ‘core’ of the Pagan-trend, and then I am totally ignoring the purity of the Nordic scene, yet rather pointing towards the essence created and brought by trans-European acts in general (from the Iberian Peninsula over Germanic soil to the Baltic lands, and back, more Northern, more Southern, and even crossing the Atlantic towards the shores of Canada and… oops, I have to calm down…).

I have one issue and that is the sound quality. This album isn’t just lo-fi; it would be too easy to say that ‘underground’ takes over the principles of sound. No, to be honest, the production sucks, and I am disappointed. Blåkulla come up with such fine tracks, but the infantile mix and even boring production are like a denigrating aspect. This isn’t ‘underground’; this is insulting! Seriously, I feel a sense of irritation, for such qualitative material (there are such a fabulous, honest and pride ideas going on) fades away in oblivion because of the dull recording skills. That’s truly disappointing, and it does influence my (totally subjective, and unimportant) score [imagine the score if the sound was more like a Grieghallen production, for example]…