Considering their debut release “As Time and Tide Erodes Stone” lasted a mere 32 minutes, it’s evident that Los Angeles black metal darlings Lake of Blood have decided that the old maxim ‘less is more’ doesn’t apply anymore, as sophomore release “Omnipotens Tyrannus” tips the scales at a hefty 79 minutes, spread across seven expansive and furious tracks. This is black metal with a dark vision, a malign spirit that wants to sink into your subconscious like a suffocating miasma and corrupt your soul for eternity. By and large it succeeds.
Opening track ‘Blood and Mercy’ hits like a tidal wave with a barrage of freezing tremolo picking, clattering blastbeats and demonic shrieking. Remember that scene in The Shining when the lift doors open, the blood rushes out and you are instantly engulfed in horror? That’s the feeling Lake of Blood are aiming to inspire and boy do they hit home. There’s a tremendous sense of loss, vastness and isolation in the sweeping noisescapes, yet the full-blooded presence is amplified by the crystal clear production that enables each instrument to stand out, even the clanking, rapid-fire bass guitar.
‘He Who Becomes’ is bolstered by the lupine howls of guest vocalist and all-round tinkerer Wrest of Leviathan whose eerie exhalations lend an even more sinister feel to the raging torrent of noise and hate that steadily pours from the speakers. An obvious comparison to draw is Weakling and their sole, seminal album “Dead As Dreams”, a record that single-handedly changed the face of black metal with its lengthy, spellbinding journeys into the starless night and its influence is stamped charcoal black all over “Omnipotens Tyrannus.”
The extensive blasting sections are occasionally broken up by passages of droning ambience that could perhaps have been trimmed slightly but don’t detract from the feelings of coldness and hate that run through the veins of this daring and dense listening experience. Like the latest Ruins of Beverast release, there will be those that are put off by its scope and oppressive atmosphere, but there is so much to discover here that will only manifest through repeated listens. The melancholy chords that open up ‘Tyrannus’ are a prime example; achingly sad yet strangely beautiful notes that soothe the way for a corrosive guitar attack that sears like cleansing fire.
An emphatic and undeniably intense listening experience, “Omnipotens Tyrannus” is one record you should immerse yourself in again and again.