Cambridge, England's Lychgate craft black metal that's heavier on artistry and atmosphere than it is on violence and vitriol. But that doesn't mean "Sceptre to Control the World", from their forthcoming self-titled LP, won't crack a few skulls, either.
Lychgate is of the black metal camp less concerned with bludgeoning you with speed and noise (not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you) than covering you with riffs and atmosphere and squeezing you to death gradually. "Sceptre to Control the World" rolls in like a thick fog, carried by coiling melodic guitar lines that wrap around both the rhythm section and one another. While running through lumbering death metal-esque passages and bursts of agility and vocal ferocity, the track's first half is anchored mainly by the mid-paced sections where the focus shifts to the interplay of those guitars, which evoke ancient, occult mysteries more clearly than any lyric sheet could. The energy built up in those solo sections is let loose around the three-minute mark, as the band unleashes their full churning, blast-beating fury right up to the reflective, guitar-minimal finale. The song is a great indicator that intricate, musically-proficient black metal is alive and well, and Lychgate seem to be emerging as one of its strongest new voices.