Stoner grooves and menacing doom metal chords drive this album as they did on their superb debut effort. Yet the echoing slightly-detached vocal of J.D. Cronise sounds cleaner, intense and more vital. In fact the same can be said of the guitars which aren’t quite as muddy as before. This is instantly noticeable from the opening salvo, ‘The Sundering’, which sets the scene with gentle plucking ballooning out into cantering hooves of guitar riff and steady pounding snare. This pushes through to ‘How Heavy This Axe’ with its epically mystic mutterings and pistoning riffs that grab you firmly by the balls and won‘t let go.
Then there’s a moment at the beginning of the bizarrely titled ‘Fire Lances The Ancient Hyperzephyrians’ where there’s a four-bar of filthy dirty, chugged guitar riff, which in the next four-bars wipes it’s feet and comes back cleaner. That’s when you really notice the extra ping in the strings. From here on the album rocks like a bastard. From somewhere the groove finds a more settled pattern and it starts sounding like an amalgam of High On Fire and Saviours - a band who they just happen to be touring the UK with over the next couple of months. ‘Mother, Maiden & Crone’ is glorious steel on steel, fist-in-face rock music at its best. I defy you to remain motionless through it. I see your head nodding there, indie-kid. We end on ‘White Sea’, an instrumental gem, with cannoning beefed-up guitars over exacting cymbal and snare combos. It’s a fine way to finish. In my reverie I see the last body fall and the valley battlefield become silent once more. Awesome.