Three years on from the expansive and audacious self-titled debut and two after the majestic collaboration with Pan-Amerikan Native Front that was ‘Immortal Ceremonies’, Kommodus returns with ambitious and rewarding second full-length ‘Wreath of Bleeding Snowfall’ and it’s fair to say that this one has been more than worth the wait. Kommodus has deservedly earned a cult reputation in the Black Metal underground and The Infernal Emperor’s latest offering should serve to embellish that legendary status even further.

The most predictable thing about Kommodus is its unpredictability. Far from being your typical raw Black Metal act, here is one that thrives on oddities and anomalies that simply should not work, delivering adventurous and engaging music that almost defies categorisation. The energy and immediacy evident on the voyage of spiritual rebirth that is ‘Wreath of Bleeding Snowfall’ is a joy to behear, with each cascading creation highlighting subtleties and nuances that one would not readily associate with primitive underground Black Metal. Is it black or is it death? Does it matter?

The shimmering radiance and ferocious intensity of ‘Sky Fortress’ captures a songwriter and musician at the top of his game, the album’s opener ‘Birthed from a Chrysalis of Ice’ – complete with ominous martial intro –  having already delighted by merging doom, death and black into a frozen tempest of undulating, ulcerating analogue delirium. At times, the riffing and overall delivery can be infectiously catchy but the dense and muddy production make sure the album does not escape the bowels of the underground, not even when it soars and pleases the senses (which is often).

Without Lepidus’ hoarse wolfish growls, ‘In the Moonlight’ might veer close to stoner or blues territory but with those vocals in place and of course the unforgiving, bordering on hostile production, it is a powerful eruption of crude, inimitable Black Metal wizardry.

If feels like Kommodus has really taken things to the next level on ‘Wreath of Bleeding Snowfall’. Every song is memorable and they are all different. Each one is bubbling with ideas and extravagant execution. A horde of helping hands was enlisted to make the album everything it could be, yet this is clearly the creation of an inspired individual whose trademark is that you are never sure what’s going to come next. But you know it will pack a punch; you know it will be memorable and you know it’s going to be different than anything else. Beware the reborn wolf.

Evilometer: 666/666