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Album art for One Master's Lycanthropic Burrowing.

Black metal is in a constant state of flux, twisting and distorting into forms far beyond what Quorthon or Euronymous could have dreamed — yet it’ll never fully shed its primal nature. Devout worshippers of the olden ways will always be there, carrying black metal’s blazing torch to even darker depths. Holding that black flame high is New York’s One Master, whose fourth full-length album, “Lycanthropic Burrowing,” ripples with compelling occult presence. It’s an animalistic, antagonistic offering with primordial blood pumping through its every vein. Although the concepts and ideologies held within are hardly new, One Master’s music is an alluring and wholly original siren’s call that no black metal devotee should be able to resist.

One Master’s potency lies in evoking a suffocating sort of atmosphere with relentless, bestial instrumentation.

While many of this year’s US black metal releases have excelled at pushing the genre to new frontiers, “Lycanthropic Burrowing” digs deep into the past to show what made it so frighteningly powerful. Seven songs blaze with the remorseless Scandinavian second-wave intensity of early Emperor and Darkthrone but surges with the renewed aggression of New World-borne bands like Nightbringer. Like the aforementioned acts, One Master’s potency lies in evoking a suffocating sort of atmosphere with relentless, bestial instrumentation. Will of the Shadow beats like a patient predator’s heart before surging forward like a beast on the hunt. The dreary 6/8 blasting of Erosion is worth comparing to anything off “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas,” but the song’s multi-faceted rhythmic changes show a side of monstrous musicianship that complements the mood.

Promo photo for One Master (NY).Plenty of black metal bands harken back to the genre’s trademark lo-fi sound, attempting to summon up those old majicks. Such an atavistic outlook is fitting for a band of One Master‘s caliber who have sculpted not only the production values but the song structures of “Lycanthropic Burrowing” in ways that would make their ancestors grin. True to the album’s name, the songs are lycanthropic by nature — many change forms fluidly, becoming more savage with the passage of time. Death Resurrection in particular showcases a special sort of compositional necromancy, with One Master’s guitarists raising riffs over and over again, weaving them together and adding cold, unfeeling leads throughout, turning them into more powerful manifestations. The malicious simplicity of it is mirrored throughout the album, giving you songs you can sink your teeth into and uncover new tastes and textures over its entirety.

One Master doesn’t try to elevate black metal to new planes of existence — they leave that to their many capable contemporaries. But they’re capable in their own right; they tread the oft-treacherous path of being influenced by classic units without ripping them off. “Lycanthropic Burrowing” pays homage in a way that’s as natural as the waxing and waning of the moon. Don’t resist it — submit to your baser instincts. Embrace your true, wild, unfettered potential, and free yourself from the restriction of modern music — you don’t need them. Shed your skin, and let One Master in.

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Author:

Eric Seal Eric Seal is the head writer at MostlyMetalDad.com. He used to think 'Hellbilly Deluxe’ was a scary album, but he's proud to say he listens to much scarier music now.