A couple of years ago when Black Crucifixion reappeared after another long period of silence with the new album Hope of Retaliation, I wasn't admittedly that impressed. Although, the negative thoughts that disc evoked were mostly due to the paucity of proper studio material (and, yeah, the cover art), so now that the band is about to unleash a new album, rousingly titled Coronation of King Darkness with sweet artwork and 46 minutes of nothing but novel songs, I was more than eager to hear if everything falls into place this time. And it seems indeed that Black Crucifixion has done a lot better job this time in pretty much every department, so you may expect some syrupy hyping in the following paragraphs – beware.
As soon as the eponymous starter kicks in with a massive wall of blast beats and tremolo-laden guitar riffs, one is introduced into the kind of modern black metal that the band's country colleagues Enochian Crescent played on NEF.VI.LIM. The similarities are further added by the catchy chorus sung in Finnish, and by the band's general ability to loose the pace every now and then and let a bit of melody into the music, like the rather tranquil guitar solo tells on this very song. "What the Night Birds Sang" follows the same route and properly introduces the legendary Wigwam guitarist Pekka Rechardt via the weeping notes in the calmer parts of the song. If this fellow carried any of his prog rock influences to Black Crucifixion, it must be the most evident on the follow-up "Heroic End Up on Gallows" which, in addition to some very fine and rememberable melodies of sadness, contains a long ending of semi-jamming in utterly dark atmospheres.
"Millions of Twigs Guide Your Way through the Forest" continues the journey in a more straightforward style, fluctuating between groovy, mid-paced rumble and faster blast beat laden sections (that just almost bring Nightbringer to mind). "Threefold" slows the tempo to the level of doom metal and introduces some haunting female choral vocals in the background, and then "In the Bright Light of Night I Await the Turning Tide" picks up the speed again and ravages in raucous blast beats and tremolos. This song is probably closest to sounding like proper black metal, except that the same time it's one of the weirdest pieces on the album, for the sole reason that there is this odd flute-like synth sound accompanying the riffing, amidst all the blasting... It's weird but it works and somehow this particular song has grown to be my favorite. On "Lodestar", things get to the murkiness of doom metal again. The ominous, lurking atmosphere is corroborated by the proclamations of malicious intent ("Yössä joku odottaa..."). "Thieves", then, starts with shamanic guitar strumming that presages an epic ending to the album, and that indeed happens throughout the adventurous nine minutes.
One might wonder how I, a sucker for bedroom productions and uncompromising black metal, might enjoy such as modern piece of 'black' metal as Coronation of King Darkness. But somehow, I guess, Black Crucifixion knows how to make things work even with a professional studio sound (it doesn't sound plastic) and skillful playing (it isn't about technical wankery). With all its memorable moments and as a generally competent whole, Coronation of King Darkness is a pleasing listen. What only the listener must realize is to let go off the assumption that the band is forthright underground black metal: that it is certainly not anymore (and hasn't been since 2006's Faustian Dream). It's just because of my personal preferences that I don't think the album is worth of a higher rating, but those with a more open mind for modern and extreme black metal may add points to the score I've given.
4 / 5