Written By: Hell3

Ninkharsag - Blood Of Celestial Kings 01Reaching the fourth decade of living can be a somewhat stressing time in anyone’s life. Yourself, friends and family start to be affected by an almost insurmountable amount of maladies of body and mind. One may be what could only be defined as chronic musical disappointment. Warning sides include hearing promises of bringing back the sound of a nostalgic past, and disappointment with the actual delivery. And believe me, there can only be so many broken promises until you start eyeing every band making such assertions with cautious suspicion. Ninkharsag is one such band, and they’ve allegedly eschewed the Liturgy-like trappings of the ego and the siren chants from the Oregonian Cascades and decided to ride the aesthetics and ethos of the mythical Second Wave of Norwegian Black Metal into this new millennium. Now, before you start moaning and clicking away looking for the next Jörn approved slab of musical wankery and orbs, let me ask you, what was the last black metal record you thoroughly enjoyed? Are you one of those who believe trve black metal can only be crafted in the Scandinavian mountains with instruments made of damp wood and recorded into a tin bucket during a full moon in between the years 1991 and 1998? Then boy, do these Liverpool chaps have a black-as-charcoal surprise for you!

Knowing nothing about this band, I was briefly shocked when I clicked play, wondering if I mixed up my playlist with some obscure Absu release. I mean, you would believe it was Prospector himself snarling at you almost from the get go, without so much as a warning nor any nansy pansy atmospheric intro. Make no mistake though, Ninkharsag will eliminate any confusion you may have at this point. There’s enough Emperor, Mayhem and Dissection worship to nibble on, but while the nods to the past are evident, Ninkharsag is clearly not satisfied to merely stand in their shoulders. From here, Ninkharsag skips the pleasantries and engages in blazing hostilities for the next 21 minutes and leaves you roughly spent and wondering why you never heard of the band before.

With a total running time of just over 31 minutes, there’s still enough riffery to tide you over for the rest of the year, and “The Sicarii” and “Pastoralis Praeeminentiae” showcase some wicked basslines to get your noodle working. There’s some blackened thrashing not unlike the best work of the aforementioned Absu, along with modern guitar work reminiscent of Ludicra at their fiercest on “Dawn of the Age of the Aquarius.”

No song overstays its welcome but each is rife with musical proficiency and the songs possess really solid structures with nice builds, proper climaxes and it all resolves itself so quickly that  it left this reviewer a bit dizzy.

Ninkharsag - Blood Of Celestial Kings 02

Evaluating all this leaves me in a bit of a pickle. I’m loathe to sound like a sycophant by pouring my heart and soul into praise mode for this slab of second wave worship, and perhaps it should be panned for its unoriginality. But the thing is, if we are to believe the bylines, the whole purpose of the album was to bring back the primal strength and rawness of those bygone times. It seems dastardly to punish them for doing exactly what they set out to do with such flying colors at that.

Quality music aside, the production is an issue. Even if it’s good enough to give each instrument its own time to shine, it would be so much better if it was less loud and  gave more breathing room to the music.

So having lived long enough to become a musical pessimist with new releases that set lofty goals and make promises of nostalgia, I’ll admit Ninkharsag embodies the nourishing nature of their namesake Babylonian goddess while providing a fix for your classic black metal cravings. They have the potential to become one of the more interesting young acts in black metal scene, and that’s far more than I was expecting from my first review here at AMG [Don’t worry, we have plenty of metalcore and slamcore for next time.Steel Druhm].


Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Candlelight
Websites: NinkharsagOfficial | Facebook.com/Ninkharsag
Release Dates: EU: 2015.04.27 | NA: 05.19.2015

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  • BarryLeFreak

    Congrats Hell, I’ve seen you in so many comments man. Good review too :D

  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    Great review dude. Now for the metalcore!

    • Thanks! And YAY! (I think)

      • Dr. A.N. Grier

        No, that’s a bad thing :)

  • Wilhelm

    I’m also detecting a little …And Oceans influence, too bad about the DR5 as the sound begs to be opened up.

    • Yeah it was a bit surprised about the DR score myself. It’s not in any way THAT annoying since it’s a very competent production job, but it would have benefited A LOT from a little more breathing room

  • Lasse Momme

    congratulations on the review debut good sir, this sounds pretty interesting

    • Thanks! I’m very happy to now give back a bit to AMG :)

  • Welcome to the dysfunctional family!

    • I have some experience with those! Thanks for the warm welcome!

      • OzanCan

        So, I was wondering, what does HKK stand for?
        Great review, many thanks m/

        • Thanks for reading!

          It’s an old gaming clan tag that goes back to 2003. The meaning has evolved, latest was used in a somewhat organized gathering was inside Guild Wars 2 with the Hello Kitty Krewe descriptor :P

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Great review Hell3. Nice to you have you hear as a reviewer. Congrats on the gig.

    • Thanks a lot! I’m glad to expand my role a bit, specially here, I respect this place and the writing team a lot :)

  • Tom Hardy

    The cover deserves a 4/5 and their music a 1/5. Sounds too derivative and predictable. That aside, I echo Goatom’s comment.

    • Thanks, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one, it’s not the most original style, but it was really enjoyable and I have been replaying it a lot after finishing the review. It has a strong chance to be on my personal year’s end list.

      And yeah the art is great it was made by Patrick “Karmazid” Zöller, a very talented german artist that also worked on the cover of Alraune’s Process of Self-Immolation, coincidentally one of my favorite albums of last year.

  • Iliast

    After the disappointment that was Saturnian Mist’s Chaos Magick, this was definitely Candle Light’s redeeming moment on that day for me. I think you should have to review the new Scar Symmetry, however. Hazing and all.

    • Oh new Scar Symmetry, that one’s probably already taken though. Not to worry, I’m sure there are a lot of hazing options around.

      • Iliast

        ALSO! Awesome review. A worthy addition to this pack of wolves.

  • sssgadget

    Good luck Hell3! DR5 is a pain for me though. Will check it out.

    • Thanks for the good wishes!

      And yes I would say to give it a chance besides the low DR.

  • Thatguy

    Very good review Hell and keep the good work!

    Sure this isn’t original but it is well done and enjoyable and the production makes it sound more oppressive, which is surely the point

    • Yes! You could even say it is a bit too clean of a production for a proper Second Wave feel, but they kinda compensate through loudness. :P

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!

  • André Snyde Lopes

    After a truckload of worthwhile comments, Mr. Hell finally moves on to the proverbial “other side”. Can’t say I can think of anyone more deserving, honestly. Congrats and good luck with the torrent of metalcore and re-thrash (and unicorn pictures) that are going to make their way into your life!

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Moving up the page! Well done Mr Hell.
    This doesn’t sound like my thing at the moment but a good read and I’m looking forward to more…
    Oh and one last thing, if you happen to bump into the boss at the water cooler. Could you mention that the readers are beginning to mumble about April RotM…it may have slipped his mind, i’m sure he’d appreciate the reminder…

    • Well, I haven’t yet received my proper HR induction (codename: “Brutal Hazing”) but I have overheard something about the water cooler being named North Moat and it’s only used by the boss during performance reviews for some strange reason. Apparently some wildlife is involved but my conversational English is a bit rusty so I may be way off.

      But I’ll pass the message if possible :P

      • Hulksteraus

        Small triangle shaped wakes on the water surface with just a sense of massive reptilian bodies underneath? When you did the interview was AMG stroking a cat? Is there an underground pool with sharks with lasers on their heads?

        Great review by the way and good luck!

  • Luke_22

    Nice review dude. Welcome to the team.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Finally had a chance today to give this a proper listen, and I share your enthusiasm. The DR score didn’t bother me much, as I found all instruments well defined, even the bass. The drumming is especially vibrant.

    I really like this, but I find it hard to pinpoint exactly why. It filled a hole that I didn’t know needed filling until it was filled. Great, thundering forward momentum, and vocals that reminded me a bit of Skeletonwitch. Everyone in the band sounds so committed and energized, it’s a pleasure to hear them play. I found myself wanting another 10 minutes.

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    Other folks in the comments have said all of this already, but congratulations on an awesome first review and welcome to AMG!