The Tyrolean Black Metal quintet Asphagor return with their fourth studio album, Pyrogenesis, which follows their 2018 release, the blisteringly superb, The Cleansing. A potentially hard album to follow, as they set the bar so high for themselves with that offering. However, they don’t seem to have had any difficulty matching those standards. Pyrogenesis is yet another blistering slab of impressively complex and sophisticated Black Metal.
Asphagor – Pyrogenesis (MDD Records)
Release Date: Out Now
Words: Jools Green
Pyrogenesis delivers eleven captivating tracks spanning a girthsome sixty-three minutes. Opening with Ex Cathedra, a haunting instrumental opener, building into something altogether darker. This is a mid-paced offering, richly layered, ebbing and building in fluid waves. In the final minute, the speed becomes frantic, ending with screams.
Ex Cathedra merges into Nine Moons, which continues with more screams and the sound of a knife plunging into flesh. A driving blackened beast of a track as it opens, developing complex twists and ebbs to the sound, the vocals raw and scathing, with eerie backing choral vocals, riffs and subtle melodic elements that will utterly surprise you. A superbly composed and delivered track.
The Mizaru Doctrine continues with a blackened drive at its core, another hugely engaging up-tempo piece that packs a massive punch, with a superb burst of leadwork just before midway, after which the pace drops back and the direction shifts. But it continues to be punchy and impactful, and I love the pounding drum rhythms that come to the fore in the second half.
The next piece, the hauntingly dark Matricide, features guest vocals by Lady Perchta from the Black/Folk Metal duo Perchta. Here, the haunting leadwork is complemented by bursts of pounding drum rhythms, and when it ebbs back, the level of sinister is off the scale. A track that has the hair standing on the back of your neck, especially when the second-half scream kicks in.
The Great Erosion is an intense blackened driver which, despite its engagingly brutal tone, harbours a melodic undercurrent and superb soaring second-half leadwork that is as complex as it is engaging.
Taking on an altogether different atmosphere than its predecessors, Scales Of Retribution has a sombre, reflective mood but is also up-tempo and driving, with superbly protracted, dramatic rasping vocals. A hugely complex track that repeatedly changes direction unexpectedly but seamlessly. Another brilliantly composed and delivered piece and I love the hauntingly reflective second-half lead work.
Title track, Pyrogenesis, opens with a superb dark groove and an incendiary drive. Overall, a complex, eerie and addictive listen that packs a punch too. The next piece, Summoning, takes the pace and mood back to an eerie reflective one initially, building slowly in pace and intensity, developing a sinister atmosphere. There is a very reflective, subtly melodic undercurrent and impressive degrees of complexity in the direction switching and timing, completed by hauntingly reflective second-half leadwork.
Also haunting and eerie to open is Pavor Nocturnus, where the initial phrasing and poignant pauses alongside coral backing vocals make you wonder where this next aural journey will take you. Into the darkened realms of fear, dread and terror, that’s where! A superbly dramatic piece that gives you the chills, especially the acidic scream from Morgoth towards the close.
Penultimate offering, The Architect, has a very solid dark feel as it opens, driving forth with determination. I love the busts of leadwork that soar out of that solid driving core as well as the eerie clean passage that emerges in the first half, the pace paring back in the second half, taking on a more sinister aura, allowing space for some sublimely eerie leadwork.
The final piece, Ghost Of Aphelion, as the title suggests, is an eerie, haunting beast of a track as it opens, developing a militaristic rhythm, then levelling out into a dark, intensely suspenseful listen. Morgoth’s vocals are particularly well-intonated here, but like the rest of the complex pieces on this track, the pace quickly escalates, maintaining the dark, eerie aura throughout. It continues to ebb and build with dark fluidity. Needless to say, the leadwork is superb again.
Asphagor once again takes Black Metal to a whole new level with Pyrogenesis. It’s a gripping listen from end to end. No favourite tracks here!
The dramatic and eye-catching artwork was designed by vocalist Morgoth and should have massive appeal to all Black Metal fans, especially if you enjoy the work of bands such as Dark Fortress and Naglfar.
It will be available as either a CD, limited edition double vinyl in black or orange or digital download. Find out more at their Bandcamp page.
The Cosmic End Tour
With Dark Fortress and The Spirit
03.05.23 Germany Saarbrücken @ Garage
04.05.23 Switzerland Aarau @ Kiff
05.05.23 France Paris @ Backstage
06.05.23 Belgium Gent @ Asgaard
07.05.23 UK London @ Boston Music Room
08.05.23 Netherlands Rotterdam @ Baroeg
09.05.23 Germany Bochum @ Matrix
10.05.23 Germany Berlin @ Hole 44
11.05.23 Germany Leipzig @ Hellraiser
12.05.23 Poland Wroclaw @ Lacznik
13.05.23 Austria Wien @ Viper Room
14.05.23 Germany München @ Backstage