The inimitably-evil enunciation of Mark of the Devil dovetails demonically with the macabre musicianship of T. Kaos to startling, inspirational and devastating effect once more on ‘Benediction Part 1’, the sinister second full-length from one of Black Metal’s most remarkable entities, Sodality. The follow-up to the duo’s debut of Derelict Black Metal Ritual comes as a welcome and reenergising surprise as it was assumed (by me, at least) that ‘Gothic’ was a one-off. However, be it as a twisted continuation or co-existing basement-dwelling brother of Death Like Mass, it appears that Sodality stands now as an enduring manifestation of possessed, occult Black Metal mania.
Between them, the demented duo has herby crafted a monumental offering of utterly-decrepit and organic-sounding ritualistic Black Metal, conceived in the pits of hell and channelled with care and reverence by artistic alchemists of the highest calling. The commanding, unnerving voice always stands out on everything the Cultes Des Ghoules frontman lends his tormented tongue(s) to, but the vocals would not be as effective were not they complemented and embellished by equally corrupt and contagious musicianship.
Nothing is left to chance as a haunted procession of suitably serpentine, psychotic riffs and baleful bass accentuates, nay leads, the choir of the damned along the path to perdition, the haunting nature of each of the four lengthy spells cast such that they linger long in the memory. As well as enriching the senses, the best Black Metal works on a subconscious or unconscious level, digging into and penetrating the psyche of the listener, and ‘Benediction, Part 1’ certainly succeeds in this regard.
Eerily unsettling and darker than the devil’s most sordid fantasies, this is a powerful, fluent and clear communication of pitch-black ritualism, a masterpiece of occult Black Metal surrealism brought to life by two of the genre’s most gifted individuals, drawn together time and time again by some hidden hand. The record comes with a full-sized, four-page booklet, including the lyrics, which are well worth reading. All in all, a wonderful album, masterfully crafted and demonically delivered.