Just about 10 years for this dark, blooming New York juggernaut to get here, but all is well. This is a band that has grown from strength to strength with each release since their humble start with Time Insults The Mind. Maturity, and retention of that strength is a hard balance to try (and rarer to naturally achieve) unless the music’s creation calls for it. On this, the band’s fourth release, As Was captures the right essence of what the band should be at this point. Everything that Black Anvil has released has been progressively building to this, and with confidence in their black metal base, they’ve begun erecting monuments and towers proclaiming their glory to the rest of the world.

“On Forgotten Ways” is definitely a fine way to open such a lush-sounding album; its eight minute length unnoticed in it’s lush wake. “Nothing” hearkens to earlier heavy metal styles, at times, with a killer solo bit also, but no less powerful than all else on display here. If anything, the clean vocals throughout the album that seem to irk certain people, fully opens up the canvas of Black Anvil’s works (thought ‘vocals’ mean singing, at least it did at one point in music).

“As An Elder Learned Anew” sets a good example of this marriage of ghostly harmony behind death growls. The album’s musical essence easily has Celtic Frost and Enslaved lending some inspiration here; meanwhile the production quality of this opus is brought to the fore by Colin Marston (Panopticon, Krallice) and Tore Stjema (Tribulation, Watain) for maximum effect. Such has this recording team taken the advantage of balancing sonic clarity with the power the band has always had in spades. “The Way Of All Flesh” shows an atmosphere and depth in a very minimalist setting of swells and acoustic guitar; hardly a segue piece and more a prologue for the grand finale in “Ultra.”

Black metal purist attitudes are a vestige of the past; the sub-genre has had decades to grow and flourish, to mutate and alternate. When people just allow themselves to like music for the sake of it merely moving or speaking to them, then quality modern extreme metal collections, as this one does, sets the standards to come. Even after trying to explain how well this album comes as a complete package, to experience it is the only way. In an age where just trying to be honest with yourself brings the opinions of many who sadly will never understand the aims involved, it is even more vital to persevere in vision for those that eventually will. Black Anvil has done nothing but forge ahead in stance and purpose with their take on USBM, and at this point, fans may very well start expecting no less than what has been laid before us. A high bar they’ve set for themselves, but they have certainly worked for it.

As Was Track Listing:

01. On Forgotten Ways
02. May Her Wrath Be Just
03. As Was
04. Nothing
05. As An Elder Learned Anew
06. Two Keys: Here’s The Lock
07. The Way Of All Flesh
08. Ultra

Run Time: 50:52
Release Date: January 13, 2017

Check out the song “Ultra”