If you woke up one morning and thought ‘I’m going to form a really authentic, definitive blackened doom band’, and you actually had the gumption to get up and do it, the chances are you’d end up with a sound not too dissimilar to The Rite.

It’s a long time since I’ve been able to sit through an album of this type uncomplainingly; and probably even longer since I’ve emerged from a listening session with a smile plastered across my big fizzog that says ‘THIS IS THE BUSINESS, MY FRIENDS – THE BUSINESS!”, but that’s the case with this new album from these International metallers. This really is authentic-sounding stuff, produced by blokes who are in the form of their lives, yet it never ever gets even close to becoming the sort of nostalgia fest that these things can often become. The ghosts of Death SS, Celtic Frost, Samael and Kreator are summoned on tracks like Famadihana, wherein the band fuse doom and death in almost peerless fashion.

Vocalist Ustumallagam is probably the star of the show here, although this is very much a team performance; his vocals throughout are top notch, a sort of oily, blood-curdled gargle that resembles Mille Petrozza after a session on the mogadons – and it’s his injection of real soul and personality that gives The Rite an edge on Liturgy of the Black. The are no cookie-cutter-cookie-monsters here…

Guitarists A.th and Gabriel both know how to set up a bowel-rattling chug – have a listen to Echoes of Past Lives if you don’t believe me – and A.th also contributes some superb, if at times a little chortlesome keyboard work to ramp up the Gothic splendour of it all. Sinister Minister‘s church organ washes almost send the track spiralling into Type O Negative territory on the chorus, but somehow, even within the context of a record as ostensibly grim as this, it works.

Great stuff then, and well worth a listen if the old school is your school.

Liturgy of the Black is out now.