This is straight up metal with black metal vocals . The guitar sound is a great deal warmer than what you expect from black metal. More melodic as well. It is clear from the playing on the first song these guys are talented players. The second song finds them more in the bounds of traditional black metal. I do not need them to be black metal, but I am always keeping an ear out for cool black metal bands. This is their 7th album so they are very confident in what they do. I like when things slow to a slower more melodic throb on "Thaw". The vocals stay very caustic. It gives this a cold sound that black metal, needs which is why I tend to listen to it more in fall and winter.
There is a a great deal of very nuanced playing on this album. Some of the guitar work really goes above and beyond. Some black metal tends to take on an almost punk feel in the way the guitar is handled, so they are really bringing playing that stands up against any metal band to the table .. The vocals keep things hateful, thought lyrically I am not really picking up the message. "Bath the Stone in Blood' highlights this. There is a more dynamic melancholy to "Harvest" that sticks enough to the metal to remind you they are in fact playing black metal. There is a hint of Western feel to it that recalls bands like Wayfarer, as well as a trance like gaze of Jesu.
While it sticks closer to what we expect from black metal with the sweeping atmosphere, they still avoid sounding like every one else by taking the easy way out with blast beats. They let the guitar song of misery rather than just pounding you. I will give this album a 9.5, it is not perfect, but comes really close to being and might just prove itself to be one of the years best black metal albums as time tells how it grows on me. If you are looking for fresh new black metal with the ghost of the old haunting it , this album is a wonderful listen ./