Review: “A Fate Unbroken” by Ninth Realm

Maryland might be known as a hotbed of Death Metal but variety is the spice of life and so in 2018 Crossover Thrash quintet Ninth Realm formed, inspired by the likes of Slayer and Demolition Hammer era Thrash Metal. The twist in the tale is that their lyricism is in a quintessentially raw fantasy style as depicted by their cover artwork with themes which harken back to a Frank Frazetta or Ralph Bakshi age of pure sword and sorcery. 2019 saw the group release their first demo in “Gates of Tythorin” before following up with 2020 EP “All Hail Treachery“, both of which find them forging an unholy union between the Worlds of Hardcore Punk, Thrash and Traditional Heavy Metal as twisted vines grow from Old School roots to usher in an era where Conan the Barbarian is King…

Mixed by Will Killingsworth (Kill Your Idols, Prowler, Tortured Skull) of Dead Air Studios before being mastered by Jared Stimpfl (Controller, Scuzz) of Captured Recording Studios and adorned by cover artwork from Jerry “Wyrmwalk” Hionis (Celestial Sanctuary, Iron Age), the debut album from Ninth Realm takes place in the fantasy realm of Tythorin. The stage is set by a windchime like flute style introduction piece which has a certain eerie quality to it with a slightly off kilter nature to the melody but “Gates of Tythorin” does nothing to prepare you for “Plea to the Heavens“. After a majestic pre-Thrash era introduction of its own, enter vocalist Ben Hageage who tears through the lyric sheet like a rabid dog with enough bark and bite the sever flesh from bone. To say his uncleans are harsh is like saying coffee is black, the understatement of the year and in some ways his vocals are the polar opposite of the bands music, which sounds like it was recorded in the mid-1980’s with a nostalgic quality to all, even if the drum sound it a little high in the mix for the average Joe’s liking. The Blackened Thrash continues at pace with “Witch’s Choir” as Hageage beings to sound like Barney Greenway from Napalm Death, his vocals being the single heaviest part of the bands sound, giving it the cut and thrust it needs. Sonically masterful “Ondreis” has a warmth to it after a stomping introduction with a few sinister riffs thrown in for good measure, before a grand finale that will probably be a little more drawn out when the band take to the stage.

Black Metal kit work and pre-“Master Of Puppets” era Metallica riffage set the barn on fire with “Evoke Thy Wrath” which has a plenty of old school style in it as it thunders along with a couple of whammy bar moments adding a little flair to proceedings. The lyrical narrative maybe one you might expect to find in Traditional or even Power Metal but here the band skilfully avoid the need for any high pitched warbling and instead dial down the darkness with a far more blunt force trauma like approach.¬†Both “Armageddon’s Howl” and follow up “The Burning Wanderer” appeared on the aforementioned 2019 demo “Gates of Tythorin” however both have been refined in the fires of Valhalla. That being said they both remain raw and powerful, the runaway leads of the former a masterstroke that refuses to muddy the water of the pure carnage that even has time for a downtempo breakdown closing of epic proportions. The latter of the pair has striking Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden vibes while giving up none of its fierce aggression, like a bastard child gone feral while momentary melodies in the album title track stop things from festering too much. Reality is that this probably shouldn’t work but while it’s not as cohesive as the work of Canadian¬† Death Thrash outfit Raider or Austin Texas natives Sadistic Force due to those scathing vocals, it has an awful lot more going for it than first meets the eye [7/10]

Track Listing

1. Gates of Tythorin
2. Plea to the Heavens
3. Witch’s Choir
4. Ondreis
5. Evoke Thy Wrath
6. Armageddon’s Howl
7. The Burning Wanderer
8. Eternal Lance
9. A Fate Unbroken

A Fate Unbroken” by Ninth Realm is out 4th November 2022 via Mercenary Press with pre-orders available over at bandcamp.

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