They say that if a job is worth doing then it is worth doing well. What they don’t say, is how big that job is going to be – so it is with some surprise that I venture into ‘True English Black Metal’ and discover that this is a beast of truly magnanimous proportions. Weighing in at well over an hour, this debut offering from one of the bleakest forces in the UK extreme scene twists and turns through those gruesome tunnels that are embedded in a plethora of black metal origins, and my surprise is mainly aimed at the colossal extreme interplay that has been moulded and sculpted with considerable scrutiny and, indeed, success.
If you sliced Heathen Deity open, you would find the words black metal etched into their core, so it is no surprise that every single transgression at the heart of the genre are clear as this epic creation ejaculates into existence. Past the expected suspense of a scene-setting intro, the first three tracks, culminating in the title track, are a desolate and aggressive rampage through the tested, yet still highly effective formulas of undiluted black metal. ‘True English Black Metal’ then swerves into a somewhat more experimental realm as the doomy echoes of Sabbath and Candlemass introduce ‘The Flames of Gathering Darkness’, onto the latter day Darkthrone thrash-pummelling of ‘The Black Goat Infernal’ and then a bracing trudge through the landscapes of atmospheric and folklore black metal that sit squarely in the North West of England.
This is raw and teeth-grittingly loyal to those Northern concepts of old, yet it is presented in a precise and raspingly balanced manner thus giving it that all important contemporary edge. Heathen Deity are a band for whom less is most definitely not more, and when it is clear that you have the darkest, most nihilistic forces on your side, you can essentially do what the fuck you want. Above all, this album listens, adopts and evolves but then sets out on its own and plants a flag. And it’s one they will stand by for many years to come.