Four years after 2016s “Earthless Pagan Spirit” Dutch blackened Death Doom Metallers Soulburn have returned with their fourth studio album “Noa’s D’ark”. Originally rising from the ashen ground of the demise of Death Metal masters Asphyx in 1996 with a desire to create stripped down Doom soaked Black Metal with influences from Bathory, CelticFrost and Venom, they began their journey to Hell with the critically acclaimed “Feeding On Angels” two years later. Line up changes have been a consistent thing during the bands existence but now consisting of founding member and guitarist Eric Daniels (ex Asphyx, Grand Supreme Blood Court), vocalist and bassist Twan van Geel (Legion Of The Damned), second guitarist Remco Kreft (Graceless, ex Grand Supreme Blood Court) and newest addition Marc Verhaar (Graceless) on drums, they have once again arisen to raise hell.
The dark majesty of the opening strains of “The Morgue Of Hope” see Soulburn rise from the grave once again to sail the seven seas of misery with with some slower pummelling groove that sits below that all out attack pace with sinister churning menace that sets the album up nicely, especially for anyone who hasn’t heard of the band before. Effectively the title track, “Noah’s Dark” plays on lyrical themes usually found in Black Metal, speaking in blasphemous tongues. Twan van Geel’s vocals are clean enough that all the lyrics are perfectly audible and his accenting gives the whole album a charm that is often lacking when vocalists try and mimic American stylings. “Tempter ov the WhiteLight” takes a left field turn musically with some Motorhead esq riffs and higher in the mix bass lines which make for a sonic break from the earlier onslaught but not too far away as to sound out of keeping before the opening strains of “Anarchrist” slow things down to the kind of atmospheric Funeral Doom quality. That then breaks back into Black Metal with a ferocious venom spitting lyric from Twan van Geel as the injured Monster turns to fight, enraged.
In keeping with its predecessor, “Shrines of Apathy” rumbles along like a Sherman tank accompanyied by tales of the undead rising from open caskets. The mid track step up into artillery bombardment rhythms and speed riffage is a well executed gut punch that is a bolt of lightning up the ass which energises the whole thing masterfully before another left field move in “Assailed by Cosmic Lightning“. No introduction before the vocals come into play with a different voice from Twan van Geel that makes him sound like he was in a Noise Metal band in the early 90s. Fortunately he switches back to his usual voice for the most part and the thunderous musical backdrop of a vast apocalyptic wasteland saves the day before the short “Triumphant One” appears for a single verse as a chink of light through the black clouds.
The sacrificial Lamb “Anointed – Blessed – and Born for Burning” roars like a Demon Goat with the unhinged lyrics with a particularly deranged chorus vocal delivery that adds a spice to one of the stand out tracks while the bleak spoken word of the vicious “The Godless I” proves that Soulburn can still match the ferocity of old, those fires of inner rage are still very much burning. Gasoline is poured on the funeral pyre for the slow burn of “From Archaeon into Oblivion” which completes an opus of an album. The middle pairing maybe slightly at odds with the rest of their work here but you have to take a risk if you want a reward [7.5/10]
The Morgue of Hope
Tempter ov the White Light
Shrines of Apathy
Assailed by Cosmic Lightning
Anointed – Blessed – and Born for Burning
The Godless I
From Archaeon into Oblivion
“Noa’s D’ark” by Soulburn is out 13th November 2020 via Century Media