The first thing you’ll notice about Kingdom Venom I by St. Louis based symphonic black metallers Xaemora is their logo. It’s Cthulu-esque appearance translates well to the otherworldly beast you’ll find within.
KVI is blatantly vicious and cold. Bitter, militant chugs power through symphonic melodies while vocals full of true black metal hate raise the hairs on the back of your neck. Howls and rage fight for prominence against an extremely powerful backdrop of pummelling percussion and guitars hell bent on annihilation.
The symphonics don’t overpower or even try to. Instead they act as a beautiful complement to the inherent ugliness. But on closer “No Longer” the venom subsides allowing the symphonics to crawl forth on this slow, melodic conclusion.
The album’s main force remains the guitars though. Screaming into the night they paint pictures of terror and death. Sometimes the leads burrow and confound with chaotic energy and at others they soar over the carnage spreading sorrow and melancholy.
Whether flattening with a pounding brutality (shades of death metal creep in) or scorching the Earth with reckless speed, Kingdom Venom I never lets go of its intent to eradicate. Vitriol and menace course through every vein of Xaemora’s blood and infect the listener like an illness when that blood is let.
St. Louis may be the last place you’d expect a black metal band with such a European sounding heritage to come from but location is irrelevant when we all end up in Hell.