Guest review by Albert Ferkl. Photo by Rob Adamson
While claiming only 5 songs including a mindful outro, A Thorn, A Blight made a strong impression in metal and punk circles in 2015 by demonstrating just how well heartfelt black metal lends itself to expressing a pressing pursuit of political freedom. The Unlawful Assembly retains this exact approach while doubling up on length, being divided into two parts: The Wild Service and The Wild Magic. Both are concluded by a reflective folk-style song with clean vocals and acoustic instrumentation, titled “A Litany to Cowards” and “A Thought, Ablaze” respectively. The rest of the track-list is all the more fiery, featuring relentless drumbeats and dark guitar-work that engages the frontman’s bittersweet violin passages in melodic dialogue.
Lyrically, the first track “Fire Sermon” as well as the penultimate “Strike Again the Hammer Sings” and “Island of Cannibal Horses” take the form of anarchist calls-to-arms, while the others are more philosophical, pondering topics such as cowardice (“Future Perfect Conditional”), will and chance (“The Ceaseless Arbitrary Choice”) and sleep and depression (“Held in a Lunar Synthesis”).
Ultimately, the conclusions reached and the general feeling generated by the record corresponds to that stated by the band: inaction is not an option. While the apparent message here is one of social revolution, it functions also on a deeply personal level. This is a call to foster freedom as individuals and unity as communities, and it is black metal nearing its maximum emotive potential.
The Unlawful Assembly by Dawn Ray’d