AVZHIA – DARK EMPERORS LP (Werewolf Records)

Recorded way back in 1996, ‘Dark Emperors’ is a masterpiece of mercurial, medieval, Mexican Black Metal majesty. Conjuring wicked, nocturnal deeds in ancient woodlands and an unswerving Satanic devotion, there’s almost an hour of music here, dispersed across a 12″ and a 7″, a timeless alchemy of blazing, distant, atmospheric Black Metal with a hint of the creepiness of dungeon synth.

Excavated from the vaults by Werewolf Records, this stunning album captures a moment in time and is mandatory not just for nostalgic reasons but more so due to the quality of the ageless Black Metal on display.

If you pine for a return to the days of yore when Black Metal was genuinely dangerous and underground, then this quantum leap back through time to the glorious, seminal, mystical, magical formative years of metal’s most-evil subgenre should be right up your street (or forest path). From the raw delivery and faithfully depraved nature of the music to the charm of the spoken-word vocal delivery juxtaposed seamlessly with bloodcurdling vampyric shrieks, everything is in its right place, the thin, tinny production of the era ensuring absolute, inimitable authenticity.

Dark Emperors’ embodies the very essence of occult Black Metal, capturing and channelling the naked, untamed spirit of a particular time and place; summoning a mood that cannot be reproduced today. Despite the generous length of the album, with many of the songs wandering into epic territory, the quality and enjoyment levels are so consistently high that time passes by quickly.

This is a landmark release of raw, eerily atmospheric malevolence – scorching, soaring, sublime, divine and decayed – imbued with an intangible something that sets it apart. Credit to the label for resurrecting an unheralded classic from the tomb of obscurity (the vinyl edition looks and sounds fantastic), Avzhia’s obscure, reverberating call from the past unquestionably a beckoning that should be heeded.

Evilometer: 666/666