Liminal Shroud – All Virtues Ablaze Review

I was first alerted to the upcoming release of All Virtues Ablaze, the second full-length record from Canada’s Liminal Shroud, in a social media post by Hypnotic Dirge Records. That post brought excitement, as I loved the band’s debut record, Through the False Narrows, which was a proper, pitch-black soundtrack to my 2020 Autumn. Hypnotic Dirge’s post also, however, brought sadness, as, in a rather classy fashion, it was promoting the upcoming release of All Virtues Ablaze, even though Liminal Shroud had moved labels (to the very good Willowtip) because Hypnotic Dirge is winding down its operations. I don’t want to get side-tracked, as this is a review of Liminal Shroud’s new record, but I will just say that Hypnotic Dirge is an excellent label, which will be sorely missed. If you’d like to read a little something about it, I can direct you to this two-part feature I penned a couple of years back. Now, back to business.

All Virtues Ablaze is another slab of harsh, abrasive atmospheric black metal, very much in the mold of its predecessor, Through the False Narrows. It’s smothering and claustrophobic stuff, with a rough and organic edge. Liminal Shroud has, however, added to the mix touches of classic heavy metal in places, giving the record moments where it can breathe and Aidan Crossley’s guitar can take flight a little. Spread across just four tracks, but clocking in at 40 minutes, All Virtues Ablaze has an epic feel to it, with each song spanning multiple moods and movements. The early sections of “Mists Along Florencia”, for example, bear an almost upbeat and hopeful air—well, if you put to one side the harrowing, rasping vocal assault from Crossley and bassist Rich Taylor—before the veil of hopeless misery descends again, like a falling guillotine blade.

With more than a little of Ageless Fire-era Vanum, as well as Noltem, particularly in the starkly beautiful Agallochian melodicism that runs through the fabric of this record, Liminal Shroud has done an excellent job of pacing All Virtues Ablaze. The second half of the album, comprising the mammoth two-parter “Transmigration I – Pelagic Voids” and “Transmigration II – The Cleansing Ash,” sees Liminal Shroud stepping up the harsh misery to NONE levels, even as more experimentation that hints at recent Midnight Odyssey enters the fray. Occasional gruff clean vocals fade in and out, as do subtle keys (also handled by Crossley), while drummer Drew Davidson adds a more progressive tone to his furious work behind the kit.

Lyrically, All Virtues Ablaze continues the bleak focus on emptiness, desolation, and despair but, pairing with the tone of the music, there are moments of solace to be found. Liminal Shroud has mapped out All Virtues Ablaze to perfection. Keeping the runtime relatively short and not getting carried away with the bloated excesses that plague so many entries in the atmoblack genre, the album goes from strength to strength, building to close on album highlight, the absolutely epic “Transmigration II – The Cleansing Ash.” The production is solid, without being stellar. Everything is in its proper place in the mix and there’s a slightly raw, fuzzed feel to the sound, lending All Virtues Ablaze a natural and immersive feel. At the same time, however, when Liminal Shroud really steps up the harsh heaviness, like towards the back end of “Transmigration I – Pelagic Voids,” the sound does feel ever so slightly compressed and flat.

Very much picking up from where they left off on Through the False Narrows, Liminal Shroud has built on, and progressed, that sound. Everything that was Great! about the last record remains present on All Virtues Ablaze but we find Liminal Shroud growing as songwriters and musicians, adding more facets and grandeur to their sound. The vision and execution, particularly for a three-piece, is stellar and I expect to find All Virtues Ablaze vying for a place on my year-end list. At this rate, though, I really am earning the C4rch4rodon name badge, aren’t I?1

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Willowtip Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: August 5th, 2022

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  1. You are earning a one-way trip to eternal non-suspicious sabbatical. – Steel
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