Their first release in 16 years, 2014’s The Suffocating Darkness was a mighty effort from the reactivated Soulburn… and Earthless Pagan Spirit proves that release was no fluke.
The former Asphyx duo of guitarist Eric Daniels and drummer Bob Bacchus, joined in Soulburn’s new incarnation by vocalist/bassist Twan van Geel and axe slinger Remco Kreft, are a fearsome prospect: the band are dripping in extreme metal history, and they can drag pure, cold evil from the depths of death, doom and black metal.
Songs like Howling at the Heart of Death are the very embodiment of Soulburn: the track crawls into life, setting a sinister tone before morphing into a full force, crushing stomp topped by van Geel’s grisly vocals and then slithering back to its fetid pit. Another highlight? The melancholic Spirited Asunder, a song where the quartet’s BM influences come to the fore, largely in the shape of Daniels and Kreft’s hypnotic, frostbitten riffs.
The Blood Ascendant is admittedly a weak link – it feels lumbering and unimaginative alongside the likes of As Cold as Heavens Slain – but Earthless Pagan Spirit is still a rich seam of darkness… and a fine way for its creators to continue their resurgence.