Sacred Son – The Foul Deth Of Engelond (True Cult Records)

Using happy holiday pics as your album covers is a curious move if you’re a black metal act… to put it mildly. It probably won’t endear you to kvltists who approach the Transylvanian Hunger aesthetic with religious reverence. But it did draw a hell of a lot of attention to Sacred Son main man Dane Cross, his 2017 self-titled debut and the band’s medieval-inspired, Arthurian Catacombs opus.

And despite Cross admitting to Kerrang that his music had been labelled “fucking hipster trash” by some decriers, Arthurian Catacombs was one hell of black metal record, rich in atmosphere and raw emotion.

Multi-instrumentalist Cross, plus guitarist/vocalist Mark Norgate, six stringer Stuart Gardham and drummer Jamie Tatnell, have taken that sound one step further with The Foul Deth Of Engelond.

Focusing on the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt, the London outfit’s third BM opus (Cross has also released an ambient album, Levania) is a portal to that tumultuous time, a sonic embodiment of revolutionary fervour.

There’s no sunny snap of Cross this time out. That has been swapped for a painting of fourteenth century carnage. Chris Fullard and Randall Dunn have ensured the production job is as sharp as a peasant’s pitchfork. And Sacred Son have seemingly honed their musicianship too: there’s a clear progression from Arthurian Catacombs, yet Cross and co. have lost none of their infectious bite.

Le Blakheth is the standout track. It’s a dark, tense affair, with barbed blast sections woven into mid-paced, medieval tapestries… and the sense of dread is ever present. Spoken word passages nod respectfully to Cradle Of Filth, and add to the drama.

The title track is similarly impressive. A 13-minute odyssey, there are seams of US luminaries Wolves In The Throne Room and even Obsequiae in its festering depths. But this is UK black metal in both sound and lyrical inspiration, and its dynamism easily matches that of Wode and fellow medieval plague bearers, The Infernal Sea.

However, The Foul Deth Of Engelond deserves to be listened to as a complete, immersive experience. Cellist Artem Litovchenko and pianist Tetiana Franchenko help to entwine the album’s black metal segments, and from the opening aura of Pestilence to the cataclysmic climax of Vengeance I & II, you’re drenched in the blood of England’s past.

Another immense contribution, then, to the burgeoning UK black metal scene… and a triumph for Sacred Son.

Band photo: Kat Ciemiega.