Palace of Worms – The Ladder (Broken Limbs)

Genre: Black Metal

Multi-instrumentalist Balan – the man behind Oakland’s Palace of Worms – has been feeding the underground some intriguing material since 2007, and The Ladder could be his defining moment.

It’s an album steeped in black metal, yet Balan has managed to balance his infernal riffs and scolding vocals with dark atmospherics pulled from doom and goth metal… even a touch of whimsical prog rock. Delve into Strange Constellations, for instance, and you’re hit with blastbeats and sharp tremolo picking, before the track slows into the kind of gloomy crawl that My Dying Bride would be proud of. Nightworld, meanwhile, brings to mind Paradise Lost’s Gothic and the more uplifting Ephemeral Blues is a sublime piece of post-BM, a multi-hued experience that shows this guy is a serious talent.

Granted, not all of the album is this impressive – Wreathe lets The Ladder down with its weak melodic vocals, In The Twilight Divide meanders too far away from its initial promise – but Palace of Worms is nevertheless a fascinating project, and one that deserves more global exposure.