Sacred Son’s second offering is bigger, broader and better in every way over the original.
In 2017 Dane Cross rose to prominence with his solo black metal record Sacred Son, infamously with a controversial cover art of the man in black sunglasses enjoying his holiday. The photo meant that the internet was ablaze in conversation over what this meant for the genre when ultimately all anyone should, and evidently did, do is scratch under the surface to find a pretty fantastic black metal album underneath in its own right. Proving that you shouldn’t judge an album by its cover.
Fast forward two years and Dane Cross has assembled a full band to play their blend of middle class black metal and the results are impressive and charming in their own right. Arthurian Catacombs starts as it means to go on with an ominous ambient piece which are continiously peppered in throughout the run time of the record.
Three dedicated atmospheric intrumental tracks to be specific, not counting the times where the blast beats and howling shrieks halt to make room for blackgaze instrumentals in the same vein as bands such as Deafheaven or Alcest have been known to do. These portions of the record are utilised in a very intelligent way and serve to break up the unrelenting black metal assault which comprises around half the album.
Make no mistake in understanding that this album’s no slouch when it comes to its riffs and savage vocal delivery. While Dane may not be the one playing a six string anymore, the two guitarists brought in for the project, Dawn Walker’s Mark Norgate, and Stuart Gardham, do an excellent job in retaining the core identity of what made the debut so fresh whilst giving the record a much grander feeling in terms of both its scope and the deeper, more well rounded mix.
ArthurCatacombs is a steady evolution on what made Sacred Son’s first album so impactful whilst innovating with a few new ideas. It’s unlikely to change the minds of those who couldn’t see passed the debut’s cover, and for those who couldn’t again, they’ll be doing a disservice to themselves because Sacred Son’s follow up is the different and original take that black metal really needs in 2019.