Azrael Into the Shadows Act I: Denial

As the title suggests, Denial is merely the first part of a larger work — Act II bears the longer name Through Horned Shadows Glimpse. Although Azrael has been releasing material in one form or another since their 2000 demo, this is their full-length debut and first for Moribund Records. Along with the expected black metal grind and speed and the reverb-drenched production, Azrael throw in eerie, ghostly strings, giving their work the feel of a gothic horror or a medieval haunting. When it’s raw, Denial is laid bare like a body robbed of skin. Yet when the band breaks into orchestral grandeur or slows down to a semblance of doom, the sonic textures and spaces more closely resemble thick velvet, heavy wooden doors and vast buttressed chambers. Thoroughly disturbing and nightmare-inducing, Denial stands on its own as a work of art — I’m curious to hear where Act II will lead. (Moribund)