Shadowflag – In Asylum Requiem (album)

Release date: 19th June 2020||Genre: Black metal||Label: Clobber Records

Stomping black metal, tied to the genre’s origins, is what you get for most of Shadowflag‘s latest offering. Blast beats, tremolo picking, ghoulish shrieks: check, check, and check. It is in the murky experimentation that this release fully comes to life.

Through the sea of sawing guitars, seething dramatics surface repeatedly, in a kind of blood-steeped opera, and offer just a hint of Gothic pomp. Orchestral threats and latin chants. Unsettling, hissing feedback. The audio imagery is far more encompassing than that of standard fare extreme metal instrumentation. I have to say, these theatrical movements really lift In Asylum Requiem out of the “tried and tested” category, into “something to write home about”.

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Shadowflag have always incorporated this kind of approach in their writing. It will sound familiar to existing fans, particularly those who have spent some time with third album, The Delusion Machine. Whereas their first two releases were heavy on the verbal storytelling, TDM moved away from that, allowing the band’s broken-clawed hands to do the talking musically. IAR picks up that banner, and marches deeper into the same territory.

With splashes of crimson bombast, this short album brings something intangibly menacing into light. It’s interesting to note that the message seems to be more effectively conveyed with less words and more music; an achievement not always attainable.

Grade: A
Slow Dragon


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