The biggest surprise for me when listening to this album was discovering that the band were English because, from the overarching framework of straightforward melodic Black Metal, I would have sworn that they were Swedes.
“Black Empire“ initially drives this fact home with a slight DISSECTION feel to the melodies, but more of the material is akin to old DARK FUNERAL with an atmospheric incorporation of the occasional violin or flute. Effectively, this contributes to the Swedish feel, where this is reminiscent of the atmospheric effect lavished all over LORD BELIAL’s “Enter The Moonlight Gate.”
Indeed, fans of that album should be among the first to give WORMS OF SABNOCK a listen. The aforementioned opener proper, “Black Empire“ typifies the album as a whole, with its various melodic breaks and frequent section changes, incorporating abroad spectrum of dark inspirations. It also illustrates the weaker side of the band, when the blends and changes haven’t quite mastered the seamless brilliance of an OPETH or an ULVER.
Ironically, when they do get it right and they do, particularly in their more lengthy ambitious offerings, they offer a similar spectrum of emotion oft displayed by those two abovementioned. "In The Shadow Of A Dark Genius“’ showcases great fluency with their gothic ambience, with “Nailed Across A Solemn Art” offering an occasional medieval and, typically English, folk tinge. The effect here, in the mid-paced sections is strikingly similar, in both content and quality, to ULVER’s “Bergtatt.”
They incorporate clean vocal passages, which are straddling both sides of the quality line. The vocals themselves are masterful and delivered in the confident manner of Akerfeldt’s later work. Their tonal quality is more reminiscent of Garm, thus the problem cannot be with the vocals themselves. In fact, it’s their placement. In the two lengthier pieces, this is brilliantly done, but the feeling of them is misplaced when sharply broken in from the more visceral passages in the rest of the tracks. This is a slight complaint only, but a jarring one in the emotive context of the album.
There is no real conclusion for a work such as this, save to say that if the above description of the music sounds appealing, then I can almost guarantee that it possesses the quality to match the expectation. (Online May 21, 2006)