Hecate Enthroned fans have endured a five-year wait for this album, and Embrace Of The Godless Aeon is also notable for being the band’s first recording with Joe Stamps on vocals. Having joined the band in 2016 it’s probably not entirely fair or accurate to describe Stamps as the ‘new’ singer, but this album nevertheless cements his place within the Hecate Enthroned ranks, which currently number six.
Longstanding fans of the UK dark lords can trace the band’s musical heritage back to the mid ‘90s since when they’ve released half-a-dozen albums ranging from a death metal powerhouse to more blackened assaults. Their 1997 full-length debut, The Slaughter Of Innocence, A Requiem For The Mighty, was a seminal release very much at the forefront of the then emerging orchestral black metal scene.
The extremities for which Hecate Enthroned are renowned still stand tall on Embrace Of The Godless Aeon, the fires stoked ferociously from the off with “Revelations in Autumn Flame” and “Temples That Breathe,” on which Stamp’s rasping strains come wrapped in a barbed wire basket of sharpened riffs.
Not all the songs threaten to rip your eyebrows off and the atmospheric “Whispers of the Mountain Ossuary” allows the tempo to soften in the early stages before the pace is one more whipped up. “The Shuddering Giant” threatens to crush you underfoot with its vast sound with just occasional breaks before the sonic stormclouds burst through once more.
What really gives this album a touch of genuine black magic is the presence of Sarah Jezebel Deva (Cradle of Filth, Therion and Mortiis) who brings a theatrical gothic flourish to three of the songs, first making her mark first alongside Stamps on the rollercoaster ride contained within the bewitching contours of “Goddess of Dark Misfits.”
Her impact is perhaps felt most deeply on the epic “Erebus and Terror,” a sprawling 10-minute voyage that tells the unpalatable story of the ill-fated Franklin Expedition in 1845, in which the sailors who were stranded in the Northwest Passage were driven to cannibalism through their sickness and desperation.
This is a bold return from Hecate Enthroned. Stamps has things licked at the head of affairs and despite the dark mood that encases these nine songs, the future is definitely looking bright.