IXXI - Assorted Armament
Sigilla Malae
Black Metal
11 songs (47:56)
Release year: 2007
Sigilla Malae
Reviewed by Goat

As hateful as Black Metal is, all too often bands give the impression that they’re stuck in the Middle Ages ideologically, still trying to conquer Christianity with swords and spears from the refuge of the forests. Not so for Swedish warriors IXXI (nine-eleven, geddit?) who are quite straightforward about their desire to see the world burn. Both the left and the right wings of politics are equally as stupid, the lyrics hint: everything will perish, and if terrorism helps humanity into the electric chair, all the better.

Formed by members of Ondskapt and Zavorash, there’s certainly kvlt kudos to spare, but you’ll be as surprised as I was when after a brief and creepy electronic intro (made by one DJ Brynolf, no less) Armageddon Nobility kicks in with Black-Thrashing, head-banging attitude. It’s reminiscent of Darkthrone, but only up to a point – those foot-tapping riffs could be from any old-school band, and the vocals shift almost constantly, from yowl to growl. The more you listen to IXXI, the harder it gets to pin down. Songs are complex, and made up of multiple elements – The Oath an excellent example, seemingly building up to something whilst simultaneously climbing down, and doing it so well that you’re gripped right up to the midway breakdown, when things take a melodious ambient turn. It’s almost Proggy, yet just as I was wondering what the band would unleash next it twists; dropping you straight back into the whirling riffs that opened the song, stomping you into the dirt.

The album’s not quite a non-stop festival of headbanging, however. Although the likes of That We May Kill The Mocking World simply rip, mixing old-school Bolt Thrower and new-school Satyricon with breakdowns aplenty (don’t worry, the good kind) In The Name Of Nothing and Imperial Requiem are slower and more melancholic, featuring spoken vocals. It’s a tribute to the band’s skills that these changes in pace don’t break the atmosphere at all, keeping you listening and breaking the album up well. The harshness is soon back in each case, the title track being a mid-paced pounder; and the album continues in fine style with songs such as An Epoch Most Cursed and Praise On The Iron Mountain being bludgeoning blasts of nihilism unafraid of melody.

Plenty of thought has clearly gone into Assorted Armament, the variety present hinted at in the title. Pretty much everyone is taken care of here; this should appeal to recent Satyriconvertees as much as the elder race of kriegsters. It might just be the album to unify the two groups; songs like Hails And Nails are approachable yet still clearly with enough Black Metal challenge, and devoted to the darkness above all. That’s perhaps the biggest compliment that I could give IXXI; this album may wander from the beaten track, but it never forgets its roots – the later tracks like Hate All especially. Album number three is due out in 2009 on Candlelight; given the quality of Assorted Armament, IXXI should be causing quite a stir in coming months...

Killing Songs :
Armageddon Nobility, The Oath, That We May Kill The Mocking World, Hails And Nails, Hate All
Goat quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by IXXI that we have reviewed:
IXXI - Elect Darkness reviewed by Goat and quoted 84 / 100
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