Premiere: Stark Denial Issue a “Stark Denial”
Ripping, hypnotic black metal with a strong emphasis on memorability and tension? Sign me up! Today I’m pleased as hell to introduce you to India’s Stark Denial and to unveil their eponymous track from their upcoming release, Covenant of Black. Prostrate yourself before your closest vessel of the underworld and take the Covenant.
At first blush, “Stark Denial” feels like a predictable, albeit quite capable, black metal assault. Guitarist Ruark D’Souza rips and tears with grisly abandon. Drummer Vineet Nair hammers and blasts as if the world may end if he ever stops moving. And above both, Kunal Gonsalves sneers and snarls with malicious intent. If it all seems familiar, that’s likely due to the band’s admitted influences in Immortal, Nargaroth, and the many luminaries of the second-wave Norwegian scene.
Thankfully for us (and you, dear reader), the devil is in the details, and “Stark Denial” is certainly a track haunted by the specters of even greater horrors than those named. The song features sharper, more distinct lead guitar work than we’re used to hearing from this style; at times, especially around 3:22, D’Souza seems more intent on invoking the arcane melodic glory and gutsy grandeur of first-wave legends than on recycling the same anemic trem you’ve heard time and time again. There’s also an undeniable hypnotic flair to the song that wouldn’t be out of place on a Cult of Fire track. The mesmerizing riff construction transports you to an exotic vale and speaks in forbidden tongues that command you to headbang yourself into a trance.
And, perhaps most importantly, “Stark Denial” is a black metal song with a hefty bottom end courtesy of Paresh Garude’s workhorse bass effort. Audible bass in black metal is surprising enough; a meaty lower register like this is downright shocking, yet it suits the song well. Garude’s bass lines create the solid foundation for that mysterious vista to which D’Souza’s hypnotic chords transport you.
“Stark Denial” may take a few listens to truly get under your skin, but the effort up front is well worth it. Stab play below and sign the Covenant.