Liminal Shroud blossom, burst with rousing black metal force on stunning ‘All Virtues Ablaze’

It’s incredibly easy to get lost in sorrow and despair when that’s what surrounds you, and trying to climb out can be a massive battle of wills as you try to defy the easy move of wallowing in negativity over the harder fight of working through it all. But there’s a way through, hard as it may seem to find, and sometimes we just need to immerse ourselves in our surroundings to find some healing.

A lot of that thinking is worked into Liminal Shroud’s great second record “All Virtues Ablaze,” a veritable coming-out party for a band that already packed a heavy punch but now has discovered something otherworldly. Yes, they explore these elements on four massive songs that are engulfed in atmospheric and melodic black metal, and while that’s a great allure philosophically, I can’t get over just how vastly improved this band is, which is no knock on their stellar debut “Through the False Narrows.” The band—guitarist/vocalist/piano player Aidan Crossley, bassist/vocalist Rich Taylor, drummer Drew Davidson—sharpens all of their tools, shows dynamic and exciting songwriting, and captures your imagination and gamut of feelings on an album that has an insane amount to give.

“Hypoxic” opens with noises crumbling and an approaching storm gaining speed as the power explodes, vile growls gnawing at bone. The drums blister as the ground rumbles beneath you, the playing soars, and creaking howls do damage, lighting up before the melodies get thicker and richer. A massive deluge soaks the earth, punishing and bringing a spirited ending. “Mists Along Florencia” begins somberly, slowly melting from a hole in the sky before the ignition is struck with the drums decimating and the burly basslines flexing. Energetic guitars mount an offensive as the emotion gushes, and the growls pivot hard toward your chest. Some proggy trudging muddies the waters, the playing keeps gaining momentum, and a final gust gives way to a slowly dissipating wave that pulls out into static.

“Transmigration I: Pelagic Voids” bleeds in and continually gets heavier, rounding into wrenching vocals and playing that gets your heart rate moving before heading for the clouds and getting more reflective. The guitar work has folkish notes as the mood gets somber, and then the riffs rip out muscles, the energy infects, and the elements drill and emote. The pace is then fully engulfed as the chaos collects, moving into closer “Transmigration II: The Cleansing Ash” that starts with trickling pianos and a pace that takes its time to gain ground. When the madness rounds up, the playing gets more aggressive, laying waste and acting like a thunderstorm that’s stationary and sending trees bending. Sounds echo, group calls send energy through your system, and the playing combusts, churning out into heat.

Liminal Shroud have demonstrated dramatic growth between albums one and two, as “All Virtues Ablaze” is a portrait of them coming into their own and showing incredible power. That’s not a knock on where they were before at all as it was solid ground, but this album is so dramatically on a different level that I’m excited to see where they go from here. This is an excellent record, one with the ability to garner them a larger following and their name on more tongues as people discuss what newer bands are making metal exciting again.

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