HIGHLAND (USA / Armenia) – “Loyal to the Nightsky” 2017

Black Metal

I remember I’ve heard the band first time in one of the Negura Bunget / Grimegod tours, when the drummer of Grimegod, with a strong Armenian heritage via Lebanon as well, promised me I’m gonna listen one of the fastest bands in the world and then played the Highland self-titled debut EP released in 2013. Yeah, it was fast as fuck, energetic, but also boring after a little while, it was like listening “Panzer Division Marduk” when you’re looking to hear “Heaven Shall Burn…”, too fast to feel any real groove. Some weeks ago, the same guy advised me his Armenian friends living in Los Angeles just released their first full-length album, a black metal compendium including 11 songs in almost 60 minutes of music, “Loyal to the Nightsky” and released directly by the band in a precious de-luxe gatefold double LP with a killer fat 24 pages booklet insert and black / white / splatter wax and limited to 500 copies, a digital version being available as well via the official bandcamp profile of the band.

Fucking hell, 60 minutes of black metal played in the most traditional way and heavily inspired by the Nordic masters of the genre, with Emperor and Immortal being the most obvious influences, but also adding some American insa(ta)nity like you can find on the records of Kult ov Azazel for instance. “Loyal to the Nightsky” is a generous collection of total black metal riffs and even melodic or melancholic harmonies, while the drums’ parts are excellent, always in fast and middle tempo, but played with a lot of tempo changes and much more diverse than on their debut. Of course, the bass parts are almost inaudible, like on any early Scandinavian black metal record that passed the test of time, as about the vocals, expect the usual throat-infected screams. Surprisingly, the production is clean and clear, but also raw, like a HD hardcore porn scene by Bryan Gozzling.

Lyric-wise, the album is malign, involving all the details against any organized religion, plus the usual goat worship and Luciferian doctrine. If the rant against Christianity is so used and abused by the black metal bands since forever, a rant against Islam is rare (I remember the Taake singer and his infamous against the crescent moon t-shirt at Brutal Assault last summer), but each and every organized religious doctrine got its share: “Crosses turning, synagogues burning / Piss on the star in the crescent moon / Reveal the face of mohammad / Set a flame the path to zion”.

I don’t know if this album can be relevant in 2017, I mean if you’re looking for anything complicated, precious or avantgarde, you’re not gonna find it on this record, but it’s authentic and it has a lot of the old forgotten spirit of the 90s. For conformity check the band on facebook and listen to their album in full on youtube:

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