Naxen – Towards The Tomb Of Times (Vendetta Records)

Naxen’s debut EP, To Abide In Ancient Abysses, sent more than a few ripples through underground when it was released last year.

But those ripples will turn into torrents as Towards The Tomb Of Times starts to flow across the blackened earth. For the Berlin act have created an enthralling record that draws from across black metal’s global grid, from the Cascadian forests and the backstreets of Chicago to the plains of Eastern Europe and Scandinavia’s snow topped peaks.

Its four lengthy passages weave moments of seductive melancholia into ice burn riffs and savage melodies, and if you plunge into A Shadow In The Fire Parts I and II, you’ll hear strains of Wolves In The Throne Room’s deep rooted, organic pulse, MGLA’s arcing chord progressions and even Watain’s sky-splitting, sonic barrages.

To Welcome The Withering, meanwhile, plunges into a similar, claustrophobic darkness as USBM trailblazers Nachtymystium. It’s unnerving and thrilling in equal measure.

However, Towards The Tomb Of Times is a long way from being a mere pastiche: Naxen vocalist/guitarist LN has proved himself an accomplished songwriter here, capturing BM’s primal energy and sculpting it into finely honed death hymns, where frozen splinters erupt from a cold yet eternally beating core.

The Odious Ordeal is where LN’s deft touch makes its most powerful connection, but in truth the trio’s debut is captivating throughout… and sees Naxen live up to their early promise.

It’s one hell of an opening statement.