At no point has Moribund ever been home to a truly eclectic array of artists, but I can’t help but feel that many of the recent albums released under their tutelage have been quite middling even by conventional Black Metal standards. The cover art adorning PACT’s “The Dragon Lineage Of Satan” left me with little doubt as to what kind of music to expect, but it was good enough to pique my interest quite a bit.
Sadly, the music doesn’t quite live up to the curious coolness of the cover art. Very dense, fast, and aggressive, “The Dragon Lineage” comes off as an uglier version of GORGOROTH’s “Destroyer” (though the relative simplicity of the songs ultimately steers it closer to PROFANATICA territory). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, but the rudimentary guitar work and overriding emphasis on aggression cause the album to lapse into periods of prolonged monotony. The lifeless production job doesn’t help matters either, as the guitars are not at all well accentuated in the mix and the drums have this annoying ‘popping’ sound to them that just grates the senses.
The guys do redeem themselves with a few scattershot highlights, however. “Flowers Of Evil” benefits greatly from a distinctive drum pattern (that sort of mimics GORGOROTH’s “Carving A Giant”, but not quite), “The Middle Pillar” boasts lots of speed and some really eerie leads, and “A Vast Eternity” immediately stands out on account of its slower, doomier tempo. These moments, while nothing earth-shattering, do at least provide evidence that the guys in PACT have the potential to re-animate the sound KRIEG was going for on “The Black Church”. It’s just a shame that on this album aggression always seems to trump atmosphere. It’s not a complete train smash, but if someone were to ask me to recommend some quality 2012 US Black Metal I would much rather punt something like OBSIDIAN TONGUE’s “Volume I: Subradiant Architecture.” Now that’s a great album!
(Online July 3, 2012)