Sometimes I like going in the blind while reviewing a band. The ones that come out from the left field and surprise you with something unexpected and enjoyable. In addition, I try to consume albums from artists within genres I do not normally heavily consume on a regular basis, to expand my metal horizons and to better understand various influences that osmose between subgenres within the great metal umbrella. All this to say that I am not a big consumer of Doom metal and UK’s Strigoi are wholly new to me, so I was curiously excited to give their latest, Viscera a spin.
Strigoi is a blackened doom metal project created as a side project by members of the doom metal genre icons Paradise Lost and black metallers in Vallenfyre, among others. Viscera is only their second release, following 2019’s Abandon All Faith.
Viscera is a mangled beast, with black metal fangs; jagged and menacing, coupled with doom metal hooves, stomping, and pummeling. The opening track “United in Viscera” tells us exactly what Strigoi is all about, and the songwriter’s extensive comfort with writing supremely uncomfortable music. While most of the tracks on Viscera run closer to the doomier side, there are some notable exceptions. The sub-three-minute “Napalm Frost” is a high-octane crust punk track with black metal leanings. This serves as a good counterfoil to tracks like “Hollow” which is just stomped city! These doom leanings remind us a lot of My Dying Bride in their sense of claustrophobia. The quicker tracks obviously appeal to me more, given my own genre leanings, and tracks like “A Begotten Son” is a great balance of quicker black metal with blackened death metal sensibilities and slower plodding melodies to tie it all together in a neat little bundle of rattled appeal.
However its tracks like “Bathed in a Black Sun” and “Byzantine Tragedy” properly showcase what Strigoi is offering its listeners, noisy dissonance-laden evil. “Byzantine Tragedy” is probably the most special track in just how it fuses death metal, black metal, and doom metal, held together by its own sinews, and dosed with female vocals-esque synth layers distorted to resemble nails on a chalkboard to raise our hackles and keep us off-kilter. And by all that is unholy, it is absolutely delicious!
Strigoi is the brainchild of Gregory McKintosh (Paradise Lost, ex-Vallenfyre) on guitars and vocals, backed by Chris Casket on bass along with new drummer Guido Zima and guitarist Ben Ash (Satyricon). The combination of the Paradise Lost-Satyricon one-two punch is what makes Strigoi a band to be reckoned with. The production is raw enough to keep your teeth on edge, yet not ugly enough to become a pain to consume, a line that is toed frequently on Viscera.
Strigoi’s Viscera is an album for those who like their music to challenge their psyche, who like to stare at their own personal void and be chased by the evil that lurks in the shadows. Allow Strigoi to provide the music to the evil that lurks just behind you.