Aosoth - V: The Inside Scriptures 01I hadn’t paid much attention to France’s Aosoth until they dropped the captivating IV: An Arrow in Heart LP in 2013, a dark and crushing affair of malicious, dissonant black metal. Admittedly I have only flirted with the remainder of their back catalog since, with nothing much, to my ears, standing up to the colossal An Arrow in Heart. The album’s hefty production and outside elements almost made it sound like Aosoth were a black metal band, in a particularly evil and hulking death metal body, with the songwriting smarts to craft an equally punishing, challenging and addictive opus. Now, after four years, Aosoth return hellbent on continuing their twisted conceptual mission and hammering home the fact that no-one does black metal quite like the French. Initial perusal of The Inside Scriptures track-list may induce brief pangs of disappointment, with only six songs written in the four-year gap between full-length releases. But like its predecessor, Aosoth embrace the longer song format, with three of the cuts breaking the eight-minute barrier across an otherwise efficient 46-minute runtime. So can the weight of expectation, amplified by the lengthy spell between albums, prove too much for these Satanic ghouls of innovation and brutality to deliver the goods again?

Much like its predecessor, The Inside Scriptures features a prominent death metal influence, but it doesn’t interfere with their trademark blackened overtones, off-kilter riffs, shrewd use of melody, and cavernous bursts of aggression and grim heft. Although their pacing is often deliberately measured, there’s little in the way of subtlety when assessing the barnstorming fury of Aosoth at full throttle. Few bands can muster the kind of tremolo and blast fueled intensity or bleed as much seething malevolence as the band does with apparent ease. Atmospherically, it’s a stirring statement, especially when they allow their melodies to breathe the fetid air and in sections when Aosoth shift gears into a foreboding mid-paced crush. Blistering and terrifyingly intense opener “A Heart to Judge” wastes little time raising the stakes, but despite its unrelenting savagery, overall it lacks variety and anything particularly memorable to latch onto across its nine-minute duration.

Pleasingly, follow-up track “Her Feet Upon the Earth, Blooming the Fruits of Blood” is an equally brutal but more efficient, dynamic composition, wielding blazing speeds and foreboding atmosphere with pulsing tempo change-ups and lurching slower passages. The imposing growls of vocalist and lyricist MkM (Antaeus) are slightly pushed back in the mix but still form an intimidating presence, while guitarist mastermind Bst (The Order Of Apollyon, VI) along with fellow axe wielder Saroth (Hell Militia, Temple of Baal) merge black and death metal influences into an impressively diverse and imaginative combo. Some of the album’s more warped riffage and tweaked melodies recall Inquisition’s inventiveness, and that can only be a good thing. The first half of The Inside Scriptures features strong moments, dragged down by less memorable and monotonous passages, but during the second stanza, the album really hits its stride. Tightly wound blasting and dark churning grooves illustrate the devastating blackened death heft of “Premises of a Miracle,” while the lengthy duo of closing songs get the job done superbly. The penultimate song, “Contaminating All Tongues” is a harrowing and brilliant composition, carrying its weighty length with aplomb and skillfully welding Aosoth’s infernal black metal with charred doom-death, memorable riffs, and sick, immense vocals.

Despite its considerable strengths and gut-punching power, The Inside Scriptures doesn’t strike a chord quite like the exceptional and tough to follow An Arrow in Heart. Aosoth sometimes struggle to maintain interest during the sporadically engaging but flawed first half, while astute trimmings here and there in the editing department could have tightened up the end product. Another issue relates to the production. While ever-so-slightly more dynamic than An Arrow in Heart, and appropriately thick and suffocating, I’ve found it oddly ear fatiguing and the mix occasionally sounds unnecessarily muddied and out of whack, especially during the band’s speedier, blunt force bludgeons.

Flaws aside, V: The Inside Scriptures is a gratifyingly savage and atmospherically enveloping listening experience, requiring detailed listening sessions and considerable time to unlock its evil charms. And while I admit to being underwhelmed on early impressions, the album has gradually revealed its finer qualities, even though the song-writing and production inconsistencies limit the overall impact. Aosoth remain a top class black metal act and The Inside Scriptures is a fearsomely executed and artfully constructed weapon of deathly blackened destruction, despite the chinks in its armory.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Agonia Records
Websites: agoniarecords.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/aosoth
Releases Worldwide: November 17th, 2017

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  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Black arrows ov death? That surely was Steel Druhm!

    Let each note I know play
    Be a black arrow OV death
    Sent straight to the hearts
    OV all those who play false metal

    YEE-HAW!

    • I’m predictable in my olde age.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        I’m trying to come up with a TRVE and KVLT spelling for predictable, but for the life of me, I just can’t, they all just look wrong.

        • Nukenado

          Predictvble.

        • IBlackened

          “Amon Amarth”. Ok, that’s not trve or kvlt.

  • Matthew

    Honestly, this is easily my favourite album of the year. It’s the album I’ve wanted Aosoth to make for years now, has the immediacy of Ashes of Angels with the complexity of Arrow in Heart. By far the best live band I’ve ever seen as well, no competition at all in that respect.

  • Jake

    I hadn’t ever listened to Aosoth before buying the album on a whim yesterday. Since then I’ve listened to it multiple times in a row, which I hardly ever do anymore. If this album suffers from monotony, I haven’t noticed it yet. Admittedly I don’t keep up with most modern black metal so my best reference points are Blut Aus Nord which they don’t particularly sound like to me, though they occasionally remind me of Thorns or Dødheimsgard during their bleaker moments. Maybe I should check out more modern black metal. Right now this is one of the better albums I’ve heard this year along with Sinister and Immolation.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Check out Svart Crown.

      • A bit overrated IMO. Svart Crown have still not made a standout record (at least to my ears). Always on the cusp though…

        • You wot m8?

          Excuse you, what? Did you miss Abreaction? That record fucking rips.

          • Matthew

            Abreaction was okay, it was totally let down by one of the worst production jobs on any album of the year, however.

          • You wot m8?

            That’s fair, I suppose. Personally, I will continue to return to that album for the rest of the foreseeable future, since the fantastic writing far outweighed the poor production for me. I guess this is why we have full reviews, rather than just whatever/10. To each their own, friend!

    • GWW

      Try their 2nd album, Ashes of Angels. It is Aosoth’s finest album. Crank it up!

  • Brutalist_Receptacle

    I TRIED. I REALLY TRIED. IT IS OK, BUT SO OVERRATED. PARTS OF IT ARE UNLISTENABLE.

    • Eli Valcik

      I’m with you here, I wanted to like this but I really can’t which is weird because this should be something I like.

  • Thatguy

    This is very good indeed – as were their previous albums. Probably a 4.0 for me.

    • Agreed TG. Totally.

    • gus rodrigues

      This is a 4 for me as well. I love their previous album and the video for marks of penitence is one of the best in metal history! On a unrelated note: just today I found out that samael released a new album, and an extremely good one at that! I have negleted reading other metal websites so I have missed some i,portant releases…

  • Morbidly Obese Angel

    I really don’t get the hype for this album. I’ve seen quite a few comments about it being “album of the year” and I can’t for the life of me figure out how or why. Am I missing something? I mean, it’s definitely not bad, it’s solid, but I feel like I’ve heard this album before, dozens of times in fact. Pretty standard by the numbers dissonant/suffocating black metal, lacks any personality and easily blends into it’s overcrowded scene. It’s written, produced, and advertised almost indistinguishably from 90% of other modern black metal acts.

  • Dudeguy Jones

    This won’t be my favorite album of the year, nor will it be my favorite Aosoth. That title still goes to IV – Arrow in Heart.
    Still, theres few bands that sound quite like a storm of satanic hornets descending on the picnic of your life. So points for that.

    I’d say I’ll keep paying attention, but I hear this is their last record. So IV and III will have to be my go-tos when I get the itch, but Im sure I’ll pull this out again, just for that buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

  • Now that is a fucking unicorn.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      It reminds me of that shaggy unicorn story…

    • HeavyMetalHamster

      If Peter Steele was reincarnated as a unicorn…..he would look like this.

  • Frost15

    You guys need to review new Chaos Moon. It’s a 4,5 in my book.

    • I’m just about finished listening to the whole thing. Great stuff. I skipped over this multiple times on Bandcamp for whatever reason, so thanks.

  • This doesn’t sound too bad. I’ll give it a bit of a listen to see if it grows on me. I don’t know if it’ll get a review here, but RUR is the best black metal I’ve heard this year. 4.5 for me.

    • GWW

      RUR?

      • Yes. On Bandcamp.

        • GWW

          Gettin Now! 1 Euro!
          Aversio Humanitatis, Bestia Arcana, Havukruunu, Wode, and Dodecahedron are my picks in Black Metal.

          • Here’s Johnny

            I still can’t find RUR, link?

  • Choodi

    That’s an amazing cover…too bad it’s wasted on another fucking boring black metal album.

  • hallowed

    Great album. It’s more of a stripped down version of Arrow in Heart in terms of atmospheric bits which is fine by me.

  • GWW

    Still think Ashes of Angels is their best although i love it all.

  • FJ Sampaio

    III is still their best work for me, no fillers, the whole album sounds like a perfect and relentless 6 part lesson in modern black metal, the sort of experience i got from seminal albums such as Ulver’s Nattens Madrigal 20 years ago… but im old, i’ve listened to all the best black and death metal since the 80’s and these days i can only bare to listen to the likes of Leviathan, Ruins of Beverast, Lord Mantis, The Body and Throane to get a fix in evil and truly original dark music… otherwise im back to old classics… still i will give this a few listens before i discard it and probably never listen to it again, like it happened with Tanthifaxath, Bolzer, Blut Aus Nord or Amenra…