Most reviews and articles concerning Norwegian dark hearts Okkultokrati seem to contain slightly differing classifications of the band’s sound. I’m no different: if you’re going to mould the likes of Motörhead, Emperor, and Sex Pistols into a ball of spewing hate, you’re playing Punk / Black ‘n’ Roll as far as I’m concerned. Anyone care? Of course not. More interesting is the decision of certain band members to change their stage names in a move that seems purely designed for new album La Ilden Lyse (Southern Lord Recordings), and which corresponds with a further evolution of the sextet’s direction.
Keyboards have added an extra dimension to the band’s later albums and …Lyse is no different. To set us off, however, a skewing Punk riff leads into ‘Thelemic Threat’: the pounding beat of drummer Verminscum underpinning the shimmering, emetic rasp of Dionysiac; the whole resembling an echo chamber of chilling sonic violence. This is followed by the hostile, frosted buzz of ‘Grimoire Luciferian Dream’, a real screamalong with a rhythmic bluster that evokes those Motörhead comparisons. In turn, Azoth‘s keys give an element of emotion to the rampant, ‘Ace of Spades’-esque ‘Loathe Forever’, and with that obsidian edge, it gives a feel similar to 80s Gothic Metal while creating a musicality that sticks in the mind.
There’s a big, beefed-up sound to those drums which is really to the fore on ‘Freezing Vortex Death Dreamer’: the deliberate, metronomic beat smashing holes in walls assisted by huge, catchy riffs and Dionysiac’s phenomenal icy roar. ‘Cold and Cruel’ is exactly that, its buzzsaw riff hurting the ears while the accompanying lead riff chimes with a high atonal pitch, those keys adding a further chill to the air. It’s back to Black ‘n’ Roll energy for the monstrous ‘Kiss Of Death’, delicious elements of melody coursing beneath a cacophonous wall of barrelling euphoria and howling solos: a path that the ensuing ‘Mother Superior’ continues to tread, albeit with a slower, slightly more Doom-laden step.
Verminscum’s brutal sticks issue forth the penultimate ‘Lunatics-Mondsüchtig’, a terrifying yet triumphal-sounding Black shimmer again devoid of blastbeats but seeming more powerful because of it. Seven-minute closer ‘The Dying Grass Moon’, meanwhile, has a suitably massive sound enhanced by that evil scour and subtle but effective tolls of lead guitar. It’s this blend of crushing weight, NWOBHM rhythms, and frostbitten animosity that make Okkultokrati so unique and magnetic, with La Ilden Lyse being another fine album to add to their impressive canon.
7 / 10