Balfor – Black Serpent Rising

Rating: 4/5
Label/Distributor: Drakkar 666
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Released: 2017
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01. Serpents Of The Black Sunsvorg1
2. Dawn Of Savage
3. Unbounded Wrath Of Venom
4. Heralds Of The Fall
5. Among The Fallen Ones
6. Wolfbreed
7. A Vulture’s Spell
8. Crimson Stronghold

Band Line Up

Thorgeir: Vocals/Guitars
Athamas: Bass/Vocals
Khaoth: Drums/Percussion
Astaroth Merc: Lead Guitars


The Eastern European Black Metal scene is looking increasingly healthy at the moment. Ukraine’s Balfor are a shining example of this. “Black Serpent Rising” is a testament to a band and a genre that are making some damn fine tuneage. Their name in their native tongue means “Funeral Fire”; a very aropos epithet.

The album opens with “Serpents Of The Black Sun”, a vicious full throttle assault, underpinned by catchy riffing and astute changes of tempo; a very affecting beginning. It is followed by “Dawn Of Savage” which again is possessed of an excellent sense of light and shade. It is a malefic barrage of bitterness.

Chaos ensues with “Unbounded Wrath Of Venom”, an ophidian cataclysm of despair intertwined with naked rage. Clean vocals also add another layer to the mix, as does the stirring lead guitar. “Heralds Of The Fall” keeps up the high standard, with a pleasing retro, almost old school Heavy Metal feel throughout.

“Among The Fallen Ones” and “Wolfbreed” are both pitiless and unforgiving, yet perversely uplifting; two feral frenzies of cast iron force. “A Vulture’s Spell” is just downright deviant, conjuring images of a toxic waltz through the slums of Hades.

The album closes with “Crimson Stronghold”, a shuffling grim reaper of a track – taunting and laughing malevolently until it is time to swing the scythe. Once the attack is unleashed it feels like being struck by Jason Voorhees on amphetamines. Can I have my intestines back please?!

Balfor have struck gold here. Each track has a certain emotional gravitas. They have an inate sense of when to be fierce and when to draw back. It may be tantamount to sedition to say this but the riffing is frequently catchy, hummable even (and no, that does not mean the band have sold out!). The album often sounds like an unholy amalgam of Immortal and Rotting Christ. The use of clean vocals also strengthens the album. One to seek out.

Review by Owen Thompson