When veterans from legendary black and death metal bands that include Mortification, Frost Like Ashes, and Sympathy get together expectations are high and Uriel from Ninth Sphere does not disappoint. Combining band members from Canada, the US, and Australia to form a death/black metal project, Jason Sherlock (Horde, Mortification), Nyk Edinger, aka Azahel (Frost Like Ashes), and Derek “Dharok” James-From (Sympathy) have created what can easily be described as a supergroup as their previous bands were notable in their own right and influenced so many other bands over the years.
Given the pedigree of the band, I had an idea of what to expect but even with that I was literally blown away by this ep. This is one of those releases that you simply must hear if you are a fan of black metal or blackened death metal. In strict terms, one could argue for both on the album depending on song or even parts of songs. Nyk Edinger’s vocals are instantly recognizable as similar to what he’s done with Frost Like Ashes in the past, the black metal shrieks are there as are the deeper raspy growled vocals. Derek James-From’s guitars really provide a soundscape with multiple parts layered in the mix and Jason Sherlock’s drumming includes everything from the expected blast beats to hyperfast double bass parts.
What struck me immediately about the album is the intensity in the performances as well as the quality of the production, which if we’re honest, is usually not associated with many black metal projects. Every instrument and vocals are clear in the mix and it has a full, deep sound that really hits the listener, especially in “King of Tyre”. That song has an unmistakable drive to it, features some amazing drum fills and pounding beat, which leads into a heavy groove. The shift from the somewhat droning black metal guitars to more straight ahead death metal groove riffs works very well and when you add in some great guitar solos, the song becomes a perfect showcase for the band and what they can do.
As for what to expect, which is always a challenge when reviewing a new band, I hear bits of Mortification, Frost Like Ashes, and Sympathy as expected given the members, but also some of the arrangements bring to mind other bands in the genre like Antestor and A Hill to Die Upon in particular, and that being said, there are the unexpected parts in songs like “King of Tyre”, “Burning as a Furnace”, and “Heaven Scoffs” that surprise the listener as the songs go in different directions.
The ep closes with the epic “From East to West” which clocks at over seven minutes describing Judgment Day and giving instruction and encouragement to the apostle and the prophet about their roles. The intro portion of the song features some nice guitar work layered over a somewhat ominous slower part somewhat reminiscent of “Black Sabbath” that moves into a heavy chugging riff backed by the initial slower intro. Deep and shrieked vocals come in for the verse sections as the song chugs along highlighting some great drum work by Jason Sherlock. Clean, soaring vocals come in to provide the encouragement to the apostle contrasting perfectly with the themes of judgment conveyed by the black metal growls and shrieks.
Supergroups often fail to live up to their potential but that is simply not the case with Ninth Sphere. The music is dark, cold, and foreboding as one would expect from black metal/blackened death, the performances are incredible, production allows the power of the music and vocals to come through, and the songs themselves are intricately arranged and powerful. This is what black metal can be.
Written by John Jackson
- Baalam’s Error
- Exaltation of the Afflicted
- King of Tyre
- Burning as a Furnace
- Heaven Scoffs
- From East to West
Jason Sherlock – Drums
Derek James-From – Guitars, bass, keyboards
Nyk Edinger – Vocals
Release Date: 28 October 2022
Record Label: Rottweiler Records, 2022
Weblinks: Bandcamp / Official Facebook page