Ninth Realm – A Fate Unbroken (Mercenary Press)

Monday, 31st October 2022
Rating: 8.5 / 10

Forged by the union of heavy metal and high fantasy during college, Ninth Realm began in 2018, releasing a debut demo the following year with Gates of Tythorin. Filling out the current lineup in 2020, another EP hit the streets with All Hail Treachery leading up to this first full-length A Fate Unbroken. The quintet incorporates a wide array of influences across the death, thrash, and hardcore landscape – creating a crossover sound through these nine tracks that contains a forceful intensity many younger artists in the heavy platform connect well with.

On the surface, the underlying savage nature to the tones plus distant vocal placement takes the listener back to the old school 80’s atmosphere – when acts like Celtic Frost, Mercyful Fate, and the Cro-Mags first took ahold of the underground scene. Ben Hageage as a singer navigates between a barking hardcore delivery and a bestial growler/screamer summoning the demons – sometimes switching between both voicings at a moment’s notice. The guitar work carries the metal workload, injecting all the key gallops or semi-melodic/harmony twists while getting down to the aggressive riff business that followers desire in this genre. Add in the right bass highlights or ideal groove / fill combinations in the percussion department and you have the makings of a dynamic record even in a tidy 33 minutes plus change window. Sway to the mid-tempo evil surge of “Ondreis”, envelope yourself in the simplified, circular twin guitar harmonies that build into thunderous crossover aural carnage during “Burning Wanderer”, or surge forward in an epic twisted battle of blackened traditional metal meets atmospheric ambiance (featuring guest female vocals) for the majestic closing title track.

The fantasy lyrical content provides extra mystique that can mirror the diverse proceedings on display. Ninth Realm much like current artists such as High Command or Eternal Champion seem to be developing a new take on 80’s metal, hardcore, punk influences – the principles adhering to a primal instinct or attitude while still catchy and very entertaining. A Fate Unbroken should allow these musicians to climb up the ranks as they illustrate a proper understanding as well as execution of the volatile, versatile nature of this genre.

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