There’s an almost camp twist to the spoken word part of The Sweetest Juice, which, when mixed with almost Floydian piano cadences, leads you to believe you may have stumbled across a lost tape from some weird sort of sixties Hammer Production heretofore undiscovered. You start to smile, wondering what sort of quasi-comic gem you’ve uncovered, until the first in a series of frankly coruscating Matt Wilcock riffs appears and strips the lining from your earholes. Ah yes. The Antichrist Imperium.

The work of idle COVID-inspired hands, The Antichrist Imperium’s third album will thrill the already converted, whilst simultaneously filling those not au fait with the band and their sulphurous modus operandi with revulsion; but don’t worry – they’ll come around. It’s hard not to be convinced by the sort of a stadium metal riffage unleashed on Vilest of Beasts, after all, and throughout this album the band prove themselves once again as the masters of mixing things that really shouldn’t be put together. Consequently this is an album that is a churning, heave-inducing maelstrom with little or no fixed point to hold onto, save for the primacy of the Horned One himself. It’s a wild ride, but if you’ve got this far in to the review I suspect you knew that already.

Sam Bean and Samuel Loynes construct a multi faceted – some might say schizophrenic – vocal environment, lurching from sub-Gothic morosity to unhinged, unholy howling in the blink of an eye, all the while buffeted by the superb drum fusillades of David Gray. Loynes is the main throatsmith, and his skill is absolutely astounding throughout. Gray gives a masterclass in extreme metal percussive intensity; it’s brutal, it’s primitive in the sense that it makes you smile and remember the first time you heard drumming like this on Possessed‘s first album, for instance, but overall it’s remarkable for the lithe yet absolutely rock solid frame it provides for the rest of the music – Wilcock’s mercurial riffs, Bean’s sledgehammer-masquerading-as-a-bass – to hang from.

Closing track Misotheist completes the band’s transition of tracks from their original demo to final realisations onboard ‘proper’ albums, but that’s the only backwards-looking step The Antichrist Imperium take on Volume III, which overall has to be viewed as an incredibly progressive work indeed. Not many bands working in this field can forge something so utterly magnificent as the absolutely rippingand unrelenting Third Degree Baptism, that’s for sure. Christ knows where volume four will take us…

Volume III: Satan In His Original Glory is out now.