Review by Fernando on September 17, 2023.
The writings of J.R.R. Tolkien have been a staple of black metal, and heavy music in general since forever, be it Black Sabbath’s classic song ‘The Wizard’, or the entire discography of Summoning, and the countless artists and bands named after Middle-Earth characters and locations. So it was a matter of time before a new black metal band would emerge that’s completely Tolkien-themed. Which brings us to One Of Nine, a promising new group out of the US, who emerged fully formed with a striking debut album titled Eternal Sorcery through Wolves of Hades.
One Of Nine are exactly what it says on the tin, they’re melodic and sorrowful black metal with a thing for the darkness of Melkor, and while many would bristle at a band doubling down on fantasy books as the foundation of their lyrics and image, what truly matters is the music, however, and to this band’s benefit, they do a damn good job of their music and image being perfectly linked since the songs truly evoke the fell presence of the most vile denizens east of Gondor and the darkest caves of Dor Daedeloth. That’s to say I don’t think the music on Eternal Sorcery would work with the usual blasphemous and satanic lyrics of traditional black metal, unless you do a lot of rewriting and pivoting.
But with that out of the way, how is this record musically? Well, this is some quality melodic black metal that’s equally depressive as it is furious. The band obviously check all the marks, pay due respect to their influences, particularly mid 90’s Swedish black metal from the likes of Marduk and Dissection, but also with the grim aggression of Gorgoroth, and the band also add their own American flavor in the form of intense riffs and desolate atmospheres. The guitar work especially is the major highlight throughout, as expected, but at the same time, the rest of the instruments are equally impressive. So if you want a dark and intense record, One Of Nine definitely has you covered. However, while the band are devout and talented adepts of black metal and were able to distill it to its most efficient and impactful elements, where this band truly shines is with their atmospheric and acoustic leanings. The major highlights of that are the intro track ‘Lurkers Of The Half-Light’ and second-to-last interlude ‘Wrathful Rebirth’, the former being a synth, riff and ambiance driven preamble to the band’s sonic darkness, and the latter being a beautifully morose palette cleanse in the form of an acoustic melodic dirge, and if that wasn’t enough, the band incorporate those atmospheric tendencies into their pure black metal songs, such as the coda on ‘The Silence Of Heaven’ and the opening of ‘Moonlit Sacrifice’, and their use of synths are perfectly applied throughout the album, making the whole thing cohesive and consistent.
The last aspect to highlight is the production, which is actually perfect for the band. Granted, this production will be a bit too clean for some folks but make no mistake, the band do an excellent job of their sound being enhanced by the production as every instrument pops. The sound of the drums especially, the sound so massive and overwhelming and yet they don’t overshadow the rest of the instruments, so yes, this is definitely a modern sounding record, but it's actually a GOOD production and a well put together record, as it not only sound great, but you can feel the intensity of the performances, which is ultimately what you would want. It's not a plastic and manufactured sound, and it also isn’t an awfully atrocious recording so as to hide subpar musicianship.
One Of Nine is frankly one of the better surprises of this year, doubly so considering how many legacy acts are putting stellar records around the same time. So yes, this one’s highly recommended and One Of Nine are a band to look out for.
Best songs: ‘Dark Magic River’, ‘Moonlit Sacrifice’, ‘God Chain’, ‘A Hunter Rides The Night’
Rating: 9 out of 10263