Kringa’s ‘Total Mental Desecration’ was a pretty sensational EP. Although the band had released some demos since its inception in 2009, it was probably that specific release that gained the band a bit more attention and quite importantly, landed them on the acclaimed Terratur Possessions label. The band followed that EP up with another EP entitled ‘Through the Flesh of Ethereal Wombs’ and eventually with the 2019 debut album ‘Feast Upon the Gleam’. In part due to their intense live shows, the tension has been building up ever since for a new record, which finally has arrived in the shape of ‘All Stillborn Fires, Lick My Heart!’.
Ever since the first recordings the band has had a sense of wild and ferocious unpredictability, and from one release to another this has morphed into an increasingly diverse sound. Where ‘Total Mental Desecration’ was firmly rooted in wild old school Black Metal with fierce multiple vocal layers, it already had spun out challenging tracks with plodding bass shining through the raw riffs. With every release the rawness has decreased slightly in favor of more adventurous and atypical twists in the songs, and ‘All Stillborn Fires, Lick My Heart!’ feels like a logical continuation on this path. The Black Metal basis is still very firmly focused on an album like Mayhem’s ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas’, but the many twists and changes of rhythm carry the band further away from the Norwegian classic. Kringa is clearly a band that looks for the boundaries of the genre by incorporating atypical and dissonant passages and clean vocals, yet manages to respect the confines of the genre. That the band doesn’t confine itself to a certain formula becomes clear from several tracks.
It’s the wild and unpredictable nature of songs like ‘Ablution’ and ‘Yoke of a Mirror Shard’ that set the standard, providing a few more straightforward view of the band’s sound. But their sense of exploration leads further from their roots in a track like ‘Across the Firmament’, a filthy and sinister track with some incredibly catchy bass and guitar riffs. The almost proggy drums and bass at the start of ‘Vortex of Stillborn Fires’ may mislead the listener to what is to come in, which is an otherwise hypnotizing track with contrary riffs and rhythms and even some brass instruments. The creative peak of the album is probably within ‘Labyrinth Heirs’, a track with a beautiful fading in guitar solo and some highly memorable riffs, a creepy dissonant piano and percussion intermezzo and entrancing ritualistic layers of clean vocals. With this diversity and atypical approach to create a pitch-black album the band may not please every Black Metal soul, but they certainly provide a thought-provoking listening experience.
Not for the faint of heart and by no means standard, even more than ever Kringa provides us with a challenging listen. While undeniably a Black Metal album, the band expands further on their experimentation within songs, and it takes some time and dedication to absorb the unsettling ritual that has become ‘All Stillborn Fires, Lick My Heart!’. But when you do invest the time in it, the album unfolds as a rewarding and captivating adventure far from the trodden paths within the glorious realm of Black Metal.