January isn’t known for being a break-out month for music, let alone for the selection of genres. In fact, solely going by our promo list, the month practically bleeds black (metal). Not only that, but labels pepper the month with releases from artists who either never released an album before, or albums from long-dormant groups. Norway’s Shaarimoth fall into the latter camp. With their sole output being 2005’s  Current 11, they return after a lengthy period of inactivity with Temple of the Adversarial Fire. Can their rituals hold up after a lengthy lay-off, or are we best to move on to darker, bleaker passages?

After a short intro, “The Hungry Omega” lurches with pummeling drums, atonal melodies, and a crazed, multi-faceted performance by vocalist R1. Switching between growls, howling shrieks, and atmospheric chants, R keeps the listener guessing throughout the song and the album. Thankfully, guitarist/bassist F2 and new drummer J3 also impress, taking pages out of many classic handbooks to craft their own sound. Somehow marrying the ferocity of early Morbid Angel, the atmosphere of Behemoth and Nile, as well as the weirdness of AbsuShaarimoth develops an uneasy atmosphere rife with bizarre clean melodies, brutal riffing, and frantic drum work. Impressive.

As the album progresses, the further the heft and weirdness gestates. Immediate follow-up “Elevenfolded Wrath of Sitra Achra” opens with R chanting like a madman, shouting and screaming with F tremolo-riffing away, conjuring up melodies that would make Nergal red with envy. “Fires of Molok,” one of the more straight-forward songs on Adversarial Fire, bulldozes with J’s double-bass murdering, closing with a morbidly uplifting keyboard melody. But it’s late album highlight “Faceless Queen of Bloodstained Dreams” that leaves the biggest impression. The opening tremolo melody catches the ear, and from there the song refuses to let go. J establishes a nice mid-tempo groove, with riffs and melodies building over each other, climaxing into a good breakdown around 3:40, with R  seething repeatedly to the song’s satisfying end.

Kudos also goes out to Thomas Tannenberger (Abigor) for the warm, Gorguts-like dynamic production and mix. Despite all that’s happening in the music, not once does Adversarial Fire feel fatiguing or painful. Not an easy feat by any stretch of the imagination. The guitars feel heavy yet sharp, the bass feels thick and grotesque, and the drums sound powerful. Adversarial Fire does suffer from a weaker back side. In fact, closer “Point of Egress,” with the comparatively lighter clean vocals and unnecessary atmospheric second half, feels out of place. Leaving this song off the album wouldn’t have hurt at all. Also, a bit of a tracklist shuffle could help vary the moods between the first half’s tremolo-heavy riffing and the second half’s more atmospheric side.

Despite my criticisms, Adversarial Fire impressed the hell out of me. We just entered the new year, and already we have a potential Record o’ the Month contender. I’m just hoping that Shaarimoth takes considerably less time to craft their next one. Welcome back, and stay awhile.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 224 kbps mp3
Label: World Terror Committee Productions
Websites: www.shaarimoth.com | facebook.com/shaarimoth
Releases Worldwide: January 13th, 2017

Show 3 footnotes

  1. Yes, another band with members utilizing single letters to differentiate themselves.
  2. I know.
  3. know.

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  • Ta2dlam

    Just listened to Faceless Queen of Bloodstained Dreams and it it bad ass! Now to get the whole album and dig in.

  • Zach Ward

    Man, what’s with all dis black metal in January?

    • Dudeguy Jones

      Accept the frost into your life.

    • Borealian

      Darkest, coldest month of the year! Ok so December is technically darker but the evil atmosphere is ruined by the [email protected] festive *&%$ season.

      • Zach Ward

        But at least the festivities of December make it a fun month, ain’t nothing interesting happens in January, it’s just a boring month. Maybe that’s why all this black metal comes out in January hmm??
        Ha ha ha.

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    While I still think Current 11 destroys this album, there is so much to love here. Definitely a highlight for the year thus far.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    “marrying the ferocity of early Morbid Angel, the atmosphere of Behemoth and Nile, as well as the weirdness of Absu” sounds like a lot of inbreeding going on.

    • The most inbreed bands out there are even regard as “super groups”. Now that’s what I call encouraging inbreeding.
      Also, there’s this example:

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        I meant inbreeding regarding similitude in sound. Now, if we take inbreeding to mean shared members, the Norwegian and Swedish scenes are obscenely inbred. Some of these guys might show up for rehearsal and don’t even know which of the bands they’re together in the rehearsal is for.
        I think there might even be a quota law in Sweden for Rogga participation in metal releases.

        • So if Grymm had made use of the cliche way to say it; “if Morbid Angel, Behemoth, Nile, and Absu had kids”, you would think of their musical expression rather than generating ugly pictures in your mind? Interesting. I should try that approach one day :P

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            What can I say, I’m weird like that, I don’t like generating ugly pictures in my mind. ;)

    • sir_c

      so one day they may become president :-)

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Regarding that album cover: Am I the only one who sees the bobblehead doll of a toga wearing bald guy with a goatee and sunglasses (Kerry King?) holding a torch?

  • John

    Hey guys, I’ve visited the site quite often and have seen some articles about the recording quality of albums. My question is this: If I buy my albums off of Bandcamp, will the FLAC files sound significantly better than off of ITunes or do you pretty much have to be an audio geek to notice the difference?

    • AlphaBetaFoxface

      Depends on your equipment. Based on your comment, I’d assume your audio set up is either a set of decent quality speakers or a decent set of headphones but nothing else (soundcards, DACs, etc). You might be able to notice a difference but it will be subtle at best with those sorts of set ups. Pop over to the Metal-Fi site+forums, there are plenty of threads and articles that’ll clue you in to the nitty-gritty details surrounding audio quality and gear. The dudes who run the Metal-Fi shtick and the forum community members are super awesome and will help with any questions.

    • Borealian

      Also depends on the original recording. FLAC is lossless but that won’t help you if the master is compressed to begin with. For a lot of metal, mp3’s at 320kbps are almost indistinguishable from lossless formats. You can learn a few telltales, such as hi-hats, that always sound more compressed in mp3 but generally speaking there is very little difference (if the master is very compressed, mind).

      Higher DR means there is a greater chance that lossless will sound significantly better. Like AlphaBetaFoxface already suggested: the ones really in the know are over at Metal-Fi.

      • tomasjacobi

        “Higher DR means there is a greater chance that lossless will sound significantly better.”

        I actually find the exact opposite to be true:
        Dynamic masterings with amble headroom translates great to lossy formats, whereas highly compressed masterings where everything is peaking close to 0 dBFS, will often be pushed “over the edge” by lossy encoding and clip like a motherf*cker :-)

        • Borealian

          That is very interesting! I’ve done a little testing at home and thought I found it slightly easier to tell formats apart when the source was higher DR. But then I don’t have the best setup and I couldn’t blind-test so it was more bias than anything.

          • tomasjacobi

            Well, I’m certainly not an expert in these things, but as I said above I can only tell lossy apart from lossless when the lossy version clips because there wasn’t enough headroom to begin with.
            You definitely need to do double blind testing though. Otherwise your brain will trick you into thinking the lossless sounds better…

    • tomasjacobi

      The difference between lossless and good quality mp3 (256 kbps or higher) is very subtle and I, for one, can’t tell them apart (and yes, that includes 24-bit). How an album is recorded, mixed and mastered is much more important IMO.

    • John

      Thanks guys for the responses. I will read up a bit more on Metal-Fi as Alpha suggested, but for now I will stick to buying CD’s when readily available (at concercts) and ITunes for the others. I just really don’t think I’ll be able to tell the difference. I listen mostly from my IPod, my computer on some cheap speaker, or in my car that has a decent system.

      • Borealian

        I don’t mean to tell you how to best enjoy your music but Bandcamp seems a better way to support the musicians than iTunes (they do streaming and mp3’s as well as FLAC).

        Otherwise my only advice is trying out a really nice pair of headphones. It WILL bring another dimension to the music and while expensive probably won’t ruin you.

  • Kalsten

    So this is how Behemoth would sound if they did not brickwalled their albums…

  • AjmsaenZ

    Another good release from the guys of Men In Black (metal)

  • Kronos

    Wow this preview track is awesome.

  • hallowed

    Wicked stuff. There’s a full album stream over on NCS.

  • ashcindersmoke

    Lord of Putrefaction is an absolute monster of a jam

  • sir_c

    This sounds both chaotic and sinister, in a good way. The suffocating sulfuric production does work here.

  • This is the real thing.