From the thunderous opening to "Beneath the Mountains of Madness" to the final melancholic guitar notes of "The Betrayal of the King," Black Soul Horde has crafted an album to rival the greatest epic heavy metal creations in history. Horrors from the Void's vast, grim world of dark fantasy conjures images of ancient forests, forgotten tombs, and unspeakable beasts, and the band's immersive songwriting and strong technical performances will keep listeners locked in for the journey.
It must be said upfront: Horrors from the Void is a slow-burn offering best suited to those with patience and dedication. Woe is the heavy metal fan who hears one track and turns away unconvinced, as short attention spans searching for radio-friendly anthems will miss a mountain of hidden treasure.
Horrors from the Void slowly, expertly draws its audience in closer with each spellbinding tale, and those who engage the recording in its entirety will reap the greatest rewards. The album benefits substantially from repeat listens, at which point the distinctive vocal style, understated guitar work, and undulating compositions become a tangible realm for listeners to explore.
Discussing the tracks individually risks overlooking the power they hold together, though certain moments of the album stand out as especially worthwhile, such as the previously released single, "Beware the Deep," which nearly epitomizes Black Soul Horde's escalating songwriting style.
The storyteller-esque intro section and midtempo verse belie the grandeur of the ensuing music, and even the mounting melodic power of the chorus proves to be a final peak before the summit, as the song suddenly explodes into a sweeping bridge section with a triumphant guitar solo. The first 2:12 of "Beware the Deep" is so unpredictable and gratifying in its subtlety that it practically demands to be placed on repeat.
In contrast with many heavy metal structures that deliver the hook in their opening seconds, Black Soul Horde's insistence on holding each song's riches in reserve makes the rewards feel that much greater.
The opening track is equally nuanced, and its powerful early moments – complete with bell tolls – fully live up to the name "Beneath the Mountains of Madness." A mix of clean and growled vocals adds texture to the song's character, and the full-blooded speed metal assault through the middle of the track serves as a gratifying counterpoint to the hulking intro. The result is as deftly versatile and as unpredictable as anything on the album.
"Malediction of the Dead" is almost certainly the most opaque offering on Horrors from the Void's lineup, and its seven-minute run time and methodical pacing provide something of a cooldown near the midpoint of the album, allowing the band to stretch out into a long-form piece worthy of their understated songwriting style.
The band saves the best for the last with "The Betrayal of the King," a perfectly balanced creation that checks every box on the list of exemplary epic metal. One of the longer entries on the album, "The Betrayal of the King" spends its first half in a careful ebb and flow, saving its strength for an explosive back half filled with soaring guitar solos and a powerful vocal performance.
For good measure, Black Soul Horde has added two excellent bonus tracks to the album on streaming platforms, including "The Horde" and "Dragonfire." "The Horde" in particular is notable as one the most immediately accessible entries, coming through with speed, clarity, and deeply engaging melodies. An otherwise excellent recording reaches even greater heights with the addition of these two songs for a 10-track experience that never dips in quality or consistency.
Traditional metal adherents will find plenty to sink their teeth into here, and fans of epic creations from the NWOTHM era – including those from Eternal Champion, Visigoth, and Smoulder – will especially have reason to rejoice. More than just a creative evolution for Black Soul Horde, Horrors from the Void is one of the finest works of its kind, and its triumphs will be told in the halls of heavy metal for decades to come.
Listen to Black Soul Horde and related artists in the always-updated NWOTHM - New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal playlist on Spotify