I must say I’ve always appreciated loud and proud declarations of intent, particularly when as is too often not the case in metal as with any other creative undertaking, those declarations deliver what they promise. In the case of Norwegian Doomsters Syrach, who incidentally hail from the same not-so-sunny locale as Burzum and Immortal, they call themselves a death/doom metal band and death/doom metal is what they deliver.

Forming all the way back in 1993 during the heady days of the first wave of black metal it’s safe to assume these guys have done more than a few laps around the graveyard in their time, and in spite of the inevitable line-up changes almost expected from a band that’s been around for 16 years, their modus operandi has pretty much stayed intact, as is evident in their most recent offering of pessimism-packed despair “A Dark Burial”.

If ever any proof was needed that Black Sabbath’s murk-drenched and apocalyptically psychotropic first album laid the deeply buried yet perfectly preserved foundations of doom metal, then here’s some more. In fact, the slow-tempos and down-tuned, distorted guitar tones, whilst successfully creating the desired dark and gloomy atmosphere, also skirt dangerously close to sounding too much like Sabbath. Now, many of you may be pondering the oft-asked question - can one ever sound too much like Sabbath? And is that such a bad thing? Don’t misinterpret me here my beloved little black-loving vampire children, I like any person with an ounce of self-respect worship dutifully at the Iommi altar, but it has to be said that there are moments during the six tracks that make up “A Dark Burial” when Syrach channel so much early 70s era Sabbath that it’s more imitation than homage. If you don’t believe me, listen to the main riff during the album’s title track. That’s all I’m saying.

Now that that’s out of the way, whilst not overly technical Syrach utilise the typical tools at the disposal of any self-respecting death/doom metallers - thick and heavy guitars, droning, repetitious bass accompanied by slow and deliberate drum grooves, all combined with growled vocals and the required not exactly cheery nor upbeat lyrical content, never tempted to delve into a world full of orchestrated keyboard arrangements like their black and goth metal brethren.

If doom ‘n gloom is what your after these lads have it in droves, and though not the most genre-defining or ground breaking of albums, you could do a lot worse as a soundtrack to lick your wounds to.