Denial of God is not the typical HHR release, but still fits the labels reputation for finding the best in the extreme metal territories and bringing them to our attention. This Danish band started out as traditional black metal, although even early on there was still something definitely powerful brewing beneath the surface of the raspy and buzzing tones of 1996’s The Ghouls of D.O.G. that would begin to appear on such recent releases as The Horror of Satan, The Red Terror, and their ’09 split with Abysmal Grief on Horror Records, a label that is actually owned by Denial of God guitarist, Azter.

Death and the Beyond is the second full-length for these Danes and is an entirely analogue recording, which is well suited to capturing the bands heaviness and all of the subtleties and details that really make this album a masterpiece of gothic horror told through black metal. They’ve also been around since 1991 so they are metal veterans and proudly do their influences justice as Denial of God utilize elements from traditional metal and horror metal styles, so expect some Mercyful Fate/King Diamond sound in the instrumentation, especially the guitar tones and the narrative horror lyrics blended precisely with traditional black metal. The melodic and explosive buzz riffing intertwined with crunchy metal rhythms on “Black Dethe” are a perfect example of this combination working together to create something that really does almost freeze your blood solid. The repetitive majestic undercurrent of pagan melody throughout much of this song serves to hypnotize the listener into forgetting their reality and existence until it’s over, or at least that’s the effect that it has, thus dropping your “being” back into your body.

There are also a lot of well thought out arpeggio and instrumental melodic passages that balance the dense tornado whirling chaotic feel of the songs building a sense of gothic horror and ancient atmospheres that really come to the forefront on “Bones Turn To Dust” and triumphant the 15-minute closer “The Pendulum Swings”. In “Bones Turn To Dust” the rhythms lead you in a sort of pagan ride to battle (Windir, Kampfar style pagan) that for me, just instantly scream classic metal structure, very epic and fantastic, and that’s actually a good thing. These guys also manage to bust out some great solo shredding and dynamics across this 9 minute hymn to death and it’s virtually impossible to ignore the natural way that the band members play off each other. The overall production and blending of melodic, epic and black metal, is along the lines of Dark Fortress’ Eidolon and this years Abazagorath release, so for those skeptics of the cleaner sounds in black metal that is hopefully an indication that Denial Of God sacrifice none of their ominous and aggressive energies in efforts to “mature”.

“The Cursed Chamber” is more of a black metal anthem that brings to mind the spiraling chainsaw abrasive guitar of early Darkthrone with the sudden bursting into chaos of chords like an ancient door breaking down and a massive swarm of bloodthirsty bats explode out and screech as they feed. Whereas “Behind The Coffins Lid” is more of a rawer jagged melodic black metal approach, and while not as dynamic or absorbing as “The Cursed Chamber”, still shows the depth and versatility of the band as this one adds some emotional aspect to the album, without going too far into the emotional depth of incorporating sadness. The instrumental break in the middle of the song is honestly quite mystical and beautiful and when the full force of the band kicks back in it really carries the song into another dimension of darkness and mysticism.

Through all of its strengths and merits, my absolute stand out is finale of “Pendulum Swings”, a 15-minute saga the band saves as the best for last. The atmosphere at times is similar to that of melodic funeral/goth/death doom without the slothlike pace, just the abysmal and melodic majesty that DOG crafts into a buzzing storm of borderline symphonic black metal. The riffs are either crunchy and chugging like a freight train rattling the speakers, or buzzing like a colony of Hell dwelling hornets, even in the more cinematic breaks the band never let their guard down or succumb to overwhelming sentiments. I also get a kick out of the really great simplistic horror film like keyboard melody that plays behind the song in various parts. “Pendulum Swings” is what really brings the blood to a boil with this final nail through the heart that is Death and Beyond.

Essential black metal all around, but definitely well suited for those fans of Dark Fortress, Abigor, Bathory, Abazagorath, Windir, Kampfar and others like them. This will be out in July and on both CD and LP formats so do check this out and don’t hesitate on it, it’s a good one and a nice change from the raw and cryptic.