Brutally beautiful black metal with wide appeal...

As you would expect from any black metal band worthy of the title, Fall ov Serafim have undergone a number of complicated line-up changes and fall-outs to get to where they are now; when Hel and Nagrinn left Swedish black metal band Misteltein in 2004, the remaining bands members, Skorrgh (vocals/bass), Ahldrathan (guitars), K. (guitars), Farnargh (keyboards) and Nirag (drums) decided to continue, spending 2005 writing and recording what was to become 'Nex Iehovae'. Yet Hel and Nagrinn managed to throw a spanner in the works by trade marking the 'Misteltein' name and leaving the remaining members to think again. Ahldrathan was not amused, commenting, "of course, this is a fucked up thing to do and all shame on them." Scary.

So, adopting the name Fall ov Serafim the remaining members have produced a thoroughly brutal, yet extremely enjoyable album. The terrifying sound of 'Nex Iehovae' is apparent even before you put it on your stereo thanks to the gruesome artwork, depicting skeleton-faced angels carrying bloodied swords – possibly a reflection of the band's views on life, death, and religion, not to mention the biblical and prophetic leanings of some of the lyrics. But religious notions and medieval artwork aside, 'Nex Iehovae' not only exploits classic black metal clichés, but incorporates some welcome aspects of death, thrash and symphonic metal.

Imagine five angry wasps trapped, buzzing frantically, in a jam jar and you'll get something near the Cradle of Filth-style high speed ferocity that characterises 'Nex Iehovae'. The first thing you notice from the opening track 'Towards the Throne of Tragedy' is the instant double onslaught of crushing guitars and pounding drums, which rise to a terrific climax before being joined by a combination of throaty, high-pitched rasping and gutteral stomach-churning growls. 'Purification' continues to make use of Danni Filth-style vocals, poisonously spat forth above the relentless pounding drums; yet the enchanting orchestrations that you'd expect from a band like Dimmu Borgir are also put to good use here.

While the distinct similarities to Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir mean that there is nothing particularly original about Fall ov Serafim, the band have certainly perfected the art of coupling sheer brutality and beautiful melody. Whilst being long and mentally exhausting, tracks like 'A Poison Blessing' and 'Hope Extinguished' subtly combine thrash and black metal guitars with prominent orchestration, choral vocals and a captivating melody that will make it appeal to a wide range of metal fans - fans of black, death, thrash and symphonic metal will all find something to whet their appetite in 'Nex Iehovae'.