Though each of the songs on Shrine Of Insanabilis’ sprawling, reflective sophomore full-length ‘Vast Vortex Litanies’ represents a worthy offering capable of standing on its own merits, it’s only when consumed and embraced as a whole that the album fully reveals its true potency – an intriguing 47-minute labyrinthine journey into bleak, contemplative Black Metal terrain, where the Germans display an innate understanding of dynamic and variety and potency to more than match the sensibilities and creative prowess of their more-celebrated French and Icelandic counterparts.

Power and passion permeate ‘Vast Vortex Litanies’, every detail prominent in the mix, ferocious vocals, frenetic drums and jagged riffs battling for ascension, Shrine Of Insanabilis finding that perfect balance between a clear production and heavy sound, their pragmatic, occult and oftentimes cosmic lamentations striking with accuracy and impressive flexibility. Amid the changes in pace and tempo and tone, matters remain ominous in keeping with the general theme of the music, that all human efforts are futile as we will ominously, inevitably be consigned to dust and forgotten.

While the album holds the listener’s attention from start to finish, there’s no doubt that it becomes more compelling as it progresses and unfurls, ‘Mother And Executioner’ providing a stellar, poignant introduction to Side B, merging the bleakness and nihilism of Mgła with the cold intricacy of Misþyrming, before ‘Invisible. Infinite. Inexorable’ demonstrates in seven minutes incredible ambition; ambience, aggression, restraint and anger all crafted together into a maelstrom of negativity. It’s thus left to the ten-minute denouement, ‘Verdict’, to offer a suitably stark and sobering finale.

The band and label have pulled out all the stops with the vinyl edition of ‘Vast Vortex Litanies’, which comes in a trifold jacket, includes a poster and booklet and is graced with sumptuous artwork. It’ll cost more than a standard record but is worth the extra outlay as it fully encapsulates Shrine Of Insanabilis’ single-minded vision. All in all, this is really excellent.

Evilometer: 666/666