Nyseius Militiae

It's hard to believe Militiae is the first album from these French black metallers. Sure, they've been around since 2002, but with only a single preceding demo six years ago, one might expect a little less from a debut. Without straying from black metal, Nyseius nevertheless construct an intelligent, well-rounded album ― the icy blasts and a swift pace lend an air of perpetual chaos, while the occasional slower passages are eerily beautiful. Rather than breaking it up, the understated, intermittent keyboards only serve to heighten the darkness and increase the stern and, indeed, militaristic atmosphere. Of the six tracks, two are ambient filler intros/outros, which do serve a purpose, but they feel tacked on. The four remaining tracks ― the real meat of the album ― are all between six and eight minutes in length, yet somehow do not drag, thanks to engaging, memorable writing and heavy, dense production. Highly recommended. (ATMF)