Review: “Epicinium” by Brotthogg

“As always we try to provide a personal approach towards the fine attributes extreme metal has to offer. Our focus is to create something brutal and aggressive, but also melodic and progressive, all interspersed with the freezing cold layers of black metal. Whether you call it back metal, death metal, or even thrash metal, we hope we have created an intriguing release well worth exploring.” ~ Kristian Larsen Moen

After a pair of critically acclaimed albums in 2019’s “Echoes of the Past” and 2020’s “The Die is Cast” the return of Norwegian extremists Brotthogg  (meaning: “The one who has to take care of the job, the unpleasant one“) is certainly a welcome one. A quartet consisting of multi instrumentalist and lyricist Kristian Larsen Moen (Subliritum, ex-Hinn Mesta, ex-Toxic) alongside vocal duo of Jonas Moen (Subliritum, ex-Hinn Mesta) and Craig Furunes (Chton, Demontera) with Stephen Carlson handling all the guitar solos, their dynamic may not be unique but is certainly a curiosity. Add to that their painting the white to grey with a combination of Progressive with Melodic Death, Black and even Thrash moments hidden beneath the veil with tales of Misanthropy and Philosophy and you get the picture…

…linguistically an album in both English and Danish “Epicinium” serves to enhance the reputation of Brotthogg once more as an absolute sonic behemoth, capable of creating strong and aggressive fast paced riffage accompanied by enthralling dark melodies with some seriously jaw dropping moments. This symphony of the wicked begins with “When The Curtain Falls“, a classic tale told with furious energy as Black Metal percussion creates a shroud of darkness around the Melodic Death Metal leads that only serve to confirm Kristian Larsen Moen’s abilities as a multi instrumentalist of supreme talent. As with most of the album, the atmosphere is oppressive but a solo from Carlson tears through the fabric of space and time like a bolt of lightening from a wrathful God as the darkness unfolds, those leads raising the hairs on the back of the neck and keeping them there for the duration of the album as a whole. Buried synths in “Forvitring” (meaning “Weathering“) enhance the haunting notes a more scathing approach to the vocals before another sublime solo, this time slower and more drawn out in keeping with the moment.

Turning up the intensity a notch, breakneck riffs and galloping drums bring “Vengeance” to life, a full on Black Metal monster with the scent of blood before a Thrash inspired solo with a little whammy bar adds the flamboyance that the earlier cuts had to them. Slowing the pace in the final third for some brooding notes gives it it a something of real class, the quality of the musicianship undisputable. Growing progressively more unhinged vocally as it plays out “Ved skumringens ytterste rand” (meaning “At The Edge Of Twilight“) feels like the darkest of these tales with more of an emotive quality to them in a raw performance, ideally placed in the centre of the album to maintain the flow and offer some intriguing touches. The solos are incredible throughout the album but the best of these have been saved the album title track which is a piece of epic majesty with enough breakneck speed riffs to threaten many a reputation, leaving this one as all title tracks should be, the jewel in the crown. There are places on the album where it’s not obvious which vocalist is performing, however “Possessed” finds them intertwining during the verse lines which works incredibly well and finishes the album on a majestic high, inspired perhaps by Emperor and Symphony X but having a real life of it’s own… [8/10]

Track Listing

  1. When The Curtain Falls
  2. Forvitring
  3. Vengeance
  4. Ravn
  5. Ved skumringens ytterste rand
  6. Epicinium
  7. Possessed

Epicinium” by Brotthogg is out 1st October 2022 with pre-orders available over at bandcamp

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