‘All Virtues Ablaze’ is the second album by Canadian Black Metal band Liminal Shroud, the first album, ‘Through The False Narrows’ (2020, Hypnotic Dirge), had escaped my attention, so I had some homework to do. And, good boy as I am, I did and I can’t help but conclude that I missed out on a good, interesting band over the past few years. Fortunately, I have now more than made up for that damage.
Liminal Shroud’s take on Atmospheric Black Metal is much of a melting pot of different influences and takes inspiration from various angles. This results in quite an adventurous ride past fierce and blasting Black Metal, folksy acoustic interludes and shoegaze humming. With this, music-wise Liminal Shroud places itself somewhere in between Saor, Agalloch and Alcest. But although it never reaches the artistic, creative or inspiring level of a band like Saor, these Canadians do deliver a rather interesting piece of work with this second album – which is in fact a continuation of the sound they already had on their debut. Yet, they have clearly developed a stronger sense for exciting song writing, allowing them to offer a more daring listening experience than their previous endeavours. Although a word like ‘colourful’ and Black Metal might seem to be a little contradictory, it fully implies here. The patchwork of different kinds of music and wide range of dynamics, however, also means that it is sometimes a little hard to digest. The lengthy tracks, with an average of 10 minutes each, do not contribute to an easy-listening experience either and requires a bit of perseverance as well. It therefore might take a couple of spins to let it fully reveal its colourful nature. But the overall feel of a slight lack of coherence is hard to completely shake off. Also the drums, the kick especially, do sound a little off to me, a bit too mechanic and digital in comparison to the character of the rest of the music and perhaps they are a little too loud in the mix too. But that might only be experienced as detail, as I am quite impressed by what this trio pulls off and looking back to ‘Through The False Narrows’ they have outdone themselves, not only musically, but I really love this great cover art as well.
That Liminal Shroud managed to escape my attention earlier is of course a shame, but the question is whether we Europeans will now get more of the band with the move to Willowtip Records. Willowtip’s distribution in Europe leaves something to be desired and that, especially for Liminal Shroud, is a real shame. The current musical climate is perfect for a band like this. (FelixS)