Horned Almighty / The Intense Black Metal Of Contagion Zero

Danish Black Metal outfit Horned Almighty formed back in 2002 by S. Smerte and Hellpig. They have come a long way since their debut album, Black Metal Jesus, honing their craft and building on each subsequent release. Now, they return with their seventh studio album, Contagion Zero.

Horned Almighty – Contagion Zero (Soulseller Records)

Release Date: 5 July 2024

Words: Jools Green

Horned Almighty released To Fathom The Master’s Grand Design, which looked back at the historical events leading Mankind towards its downfall up to this point. This was ironically released in January 2020, only two months before the global pandemic.

Hopefully, Contagion Zero has a positive title for us all, but good omen or not, at least this album is as engaging as it is intensely brutal. I’ll happily settle for that.

Horned Almighty - Contagion Zero
Horned Almighty – Contagion Zero

The seven-track, thirty-six-minute Contagion Zero continues, like its predecessors, to be firmly rooted in tradition and lyrically inspired, as always, by aspects of Satanism.

Opening on The Messiah Scourge, this is an ear-catching piece that assaults your senses with a driving melody melded with intense waves of riffing completed with an acidic vocal delivery. Midway ebbing back on a slower, darker, more complex path, it then ramps up to a catchy, drum-driven d-beat rhythm with blasting waves of cold black riffs.

Delivering an ominous air as it opens and packing a punch, too, Gospels Of Sickness goes on to unleash wave after wave of undulating and pulsating cold black riffs for the acidic vocals to tear their way through. A classically styled chunk of well-delivered Black Metal.

An amusing vitriolic play on words, Vermin On The Mount delivers more vicious waves of driving riffs and drum battery. This is bolstered by a protracted vocal roar before changing the pace and mood into a slightly more melodic, but still harsh one just before the arrival of the vitriolic vocals. A few more d-beats are dropped in too. This is a well varied track in pace and direction switching and the slick complexity of this piece holds your attention fully. 

Ascension Of Fever And Plague builds slowly, menacingly and powerfully, delivering sharp, jangling riffs and deep, acidic vocals that become higher and more vitriolic. Building into a black frenzied drive, it is a superbly constructed, hugely enjoyable piece that switches pace seamlessly and dramatically. 

Furnace Of Sulphur And Fire packs an ominous punch from the offset with its dark, hypnotic, repeating intro. This levels out to a classic Black Metal plod that develops an engaging ebb and build between the acidic, powerfully protracted vocal screams. A dramatically impactful track.

In complete contrast, Darken The World builds rapidly into an intense frenzy of riffs, drum battery and acidic protracted screams. There are some superb lead bursts woven in there, too. Coursing an impressively complex path as it progresses, there are several reflective drops in the second half, which serve to intensify those brutal waves of blackened riffs that follow.

This ends suddenly and dramatically, leaving the final piece, the three-minute instrumental outro, Epilogue … Of Hades And Of Death, to deliver one last eerie dose of dramatic darkness.

Contagion Zero was recorded, mixed and mastered at Hop House Studios in late 2023 with producer Andreas Linnemann. The artwork is by Belial Necroarts.

Overall, it is a superb album that holds your attention end to end. It is brutal, varied and fully engaging.

Contagion Zero will be available as CD, a limited-edition vinyl in a choice of two colours, or digital download, via all the usual distros.

Sleeve Notes

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