Black Spell – The Purple Skull (Forbidden Place Records 2021)

Less than a year after their acclaimed self-titled debut album, the Italian doomsters Black Spell return with “The Purple Skull”. The album picks up where their previous one left off, however, this time the production takes the band’s sound to new levels of fuzziness and doom. Truth be told, the band does not reinvent this sound, nor does it sound in any way they are interested in doing so. Their doom is honest, they serve a particular sound, and they are carving their own space in the genre next to bands like The Noise Figures, Temple of the Fuzz Witch and Acid Mammoth.

The album takes off with songs like “Dark Priests of Hell” and “Walpurgis Night”, whose thick and warmly distorted bass lines present the band’s credentials and lay the foundation of the doom that is to follow. Across the album, there are songs like “Ethereal Shadows” and “Black Alchemist” where the band takes a groovier, more experimental and intriguing approach. There were moments where their tunes seem to be attempting a unison between a doomier version of Joy Division (if that were possible) and their Sabbathic roots. Towards the end, the melodies become darker, the riffs and grooves are more sinister, and yet the tunes become memorable. The album closes perfectly with “Il teschio viola vive”, a monolithic instrumental elegy, whose title translates into “The Purple Skull Lives”. No doubt, this sounds like a promise that the band shall return. Until it does, “The Purple Skull” will stare us all down with its empty eyes and its doomy sounds. One of the very good albums of 2021 in the genre.

Words by Ioannis Valiakos

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