A lot of water has flowed under the sonic bridge in the 13 years between Skullflower records. The sustained, blistering industrial drone that kicks off “Shivering Aurora,” the opener of the 12-song, two-disc set Strange Keys to Untune God’s Firmament, reminds us that this band sat at this musical chair first, or at least close to it. This album marks Skullflower’s return with style and massive gusto.
The highlights of the first disc include “City of Dis,” which begins with soft haunting tones that extend into a pulising wall of black metal. “Gateway To Blasphemous Light” is impossively piercing and majestic, a word overused in reviews of this type of band but here is more than appropriate. This one belongs on any essential Skullflower mixtape. “Basement of an Impure Universe” is all industrial horror, underground steamy goodness.
On the second disc, Matthew Bower just about exclusively relies on pure noise, especially on “Nibelungen” ( a nod to the Nordic gods is always welcome). Though on tracks like “Blackened AngelWings Scythe the Billowing Void” and “Chaotic Demons Fly in to my Eyes,” it is the churning, feverish squeal beneath the noise that gives me the willies.
Strange Keys to Untune God’s Firmament is classic Skullflower, a set of tunes that pays homage to the band’s history while still finding new inspiration in feedback, drone and monochord assault. This record puts them back in the game, and at the top of the class.