NEGATIVE PLANE – THE PACT (Invictus Productions / The Ajna Offensive)

How many contemporary Black Metal acts are there who have successfully forged their own distinctive sound whist remaining relevant (i.e., worth actually listening to)? One very obvious outlier from the oftentimes monotonous, derivative pack is Negative Plane, a unique force of nature who have arguably scaled new heights on their exceptional third full-length, ‘The Pact’ – an album which constitutes a truly remarkable accomplishment on myriad levels.

Woven together by an immaculately written and narrated overarching story of unholy deeds taking place across the centuries on the consecrated (ha!) grounds of a doomed-to-hell church – a tale where the pious (blinded and betrayed by their own faith) are of course less sympathetic or powerful than the irresistible, insatiable evil that consumes and ultimately destroys them – the seven curses that constitute ‘The Pact’ are both lyrically and musically immense.

On a par with the very best of Cultes Des Ghoules on the epic, stage-worthy ‘Coven, or Evil Ways Instead of Love’, Nameless Void’s lyricism throughout this broad tapestry of work is mightily impressive in terms of both scope and skill – the corrupt compositional mastery of an inspired wordsmith in complete command of his craft. How fluidly the words flow, how adeptly they are assembled, the precise placement of each syllable instrumental in how the presentation of devilish deceit and infernal chicanery unfolds.

Musically, ‘The Pact’ could only be Negative Plane. Instantly recognisable from the opening strains of ‘A Work to Stand a Thousand Years’ right through to the terrifying, monumental 16-minute denouement ‘And So It Came to Pass’, the now-four-piece skilfully executes an hour’s worth of trademark strange and quirky Black Metal weirdness defiantly delivered in Negative Plane’s own brash, wonky and inimitable style. This is a recording that shamelessly demands your time, as it needs to be digested as a whole, in one uninterrupted and focussed sitting. While attention spans are shorter than ever these days, the rewards offered by ‘The Pact’ are bountiful and rich, greatly outweighing any investment made (be that time or money).

A rare, left-field masterwork worthy of awe and adulation.

Evilometer: 666/666