No respite from Funeral Winds. If anything, the ferocious offensive against the holy trinity is becoming more fearsome with the passing of time. Hellchrist Xul has been conjuring Satanic Black Metal under this banner since 1991 and ‘Stigmata Mali’ is the latest proof that he has become a master of his chosen craft. His convictions are intensifying and here we have another 35 minutes of traditional, overtly-antichristian Black Metal done the old way and with a touch of class.

The ominous funereal chime of a church bell opens proceedings before the malevolence commences in earnest and pious figures are sent scattering, across the apse, scrambling and ducking desperately for cover from the barbaric assault. The lyrics to ‘Open the Wounds’ and the ensuing title track are delightfully graphic and leave little to the imagination. On the third full-length Funeral Winds offering to materialise in little over two years, the Dutch demon – who creates his music in solitude in the sanctity of Necromanteion Studio in Prague – means business.

At this point, it is probably patronising and condescending to reference the no-frills nature of Funeral Winds’ music or the fact that new ground is not being broken. This is pure homage to Satan and is not an attempt to rewrite the idea of what Black Metal is and can be. Through decades of dedication, Hellchrist Xul has fine-tuned the art of invoking grim, raw-yet-melodic Black Metal, composed and executed in His name. I can confidently state that ‘Stigmata Mali’ is everything he wants it to be.

Confidently relying on the creation of darkness through a foreboding atmosphere, often operating at mid-pace rather than deploying aimless aggression or speed, the seventh Funeral Winds full-length collection of curses is very much the culmination of a journey that began 32 years ago – a timeless presentation of Satanic Black Metal that overflows with disdain and contempt for the human condition and in particular the Christians amongst us. What’s not to admire about that?

Evilometer: 555/666