03. Gray Twilight: A Traitor's Redemption
04. Endless War on the Bridge Between Worlds
05. Carry their Bodies to the Horizon
06. The Wretched Ones
The duo of metal writers Marty Rytkonen and S. Craig Zahler have returned with a second release from primal black project CHARNEL VALLEY. The follow-up to "The Dark Archives" is a darker, more varied album that its predecessor, although I still prefer the debut. Nevertheless, "The Igneous Race" is another demonstration of what can be done with guitar, drums, and vocals in creating a moody and savage experience.
"The Igneous Race" is about the creation of feeling, not simply blast-beaten black metal. In fact, these compositions are rife with tempo changes and obsidian atmospheres, each riff obviously written for maximum impact. Dirty and stripped to the bone, the duo's style is about as far from polished and/or symphonic black metal as it gets, and that's the way it should be. Though the mix is a raw one, I wouldn't call it lo-fi; the vocals, drums, and guitar are clear and razor sharp. Song-wise, the seven-song batch is decent across the board. From the up-tempo war metal approach taken on "Blackfist" to the pummeling, drum-led attack of "The Wretched Ones", the duo mixes things up nicely and provides the listener with a variety of cool riffs to enjoy. The first part of "January" features an almost BOLT THROWER style groove with effective stop-start riffs and tempo variation. A slow pace and morose feel describes "Gray Twilight: A Traitor's Redemption" before moving into a tough groove. In keeping with the changeups, "Endless War on the Bridge Between Worlds" includes a melodic harmony and riffs that come off like stabs to the chest. The act definitely keeps things moving along.
So if you're a fan of bullshit-free black metal, then there is no reason to avoid "The Igneous Race". It is refreshing in its back-to-basics approach and should provide the discerning fan with many pleasurable spins. Sure there are better releases, but there are a hell of a lot more that are not worthy of your time or money.