Runemagick again prove meddle as doom/death royalty on grim, mashing ‘Beyond the Cenotaph…’

There’s something to be said about doing something really well for a long time and rarely making a misstep along the way. Not many people can say that about their work and lives. It’s another thing to pull this off and fly slightly under the radar, compiling an incredible resume and doing it while others get accolades for content that isn’t as powerful.

For more than three decades now, Swedish doom/death crushers Runemagick have created darkness and metallic punishment that measures up with anyone, but their name is not nearly as quick off the tongue when most folks discuss this subgenre. From their 1998 debut “The Supreme Force of Eternity” to their new, 13th record “Beyond the Cenotaph of Mankind,” the band has compiled crusher after crusher, remaining true to their art and leaving a trail of ash behind. With “Cenotaph,” the band—vocalist/guitarist Nicklas Rudolfsson, guitarist Jonas Blom, bassist Emma Rudolfsson, drummer Daniel Moilanen—opens a tunnel into exploring personal darkness and turmoil over six tracks and 48 minutes that force you to pay the price, which you’ll only be too happy to do. It also should strengthen their case that they’re one of the best bands at this style, and it’s time to shine a brighter light on that.

“Archaic Magick (After the Red Sun)” opens the record with sounds swarming and doom swirling, growls lurching over the bloody path. The pace charges up as the gore builds, chugging heat as the guitars drill, and the playing exposes ugly mangling. The track thrashes with energy, and the pace surges and mauls, cosmic whirring making it feel like you’re leaving the earth, slowly draining into the stars. “Endless Night and Eternal End” opens in eerie chants and tornadic playing causing the room to spin, powerful riffs teaming with savage growls, thick and bubbling playing working up your spine. Gothy clubbing darkens the aura, the guitar work stokes the fires, and splattering doom coats the walls in blood. “Revocation of Spectral Paths” is haunting when it opens, flexing its muscles, driving slowly through thick tunnels and monstrous stomping causing tolls to be collected. The fury builds as the growls dig into your guts, unloading massive waves of devastation before everything disappears into the fog.

“The Storm Rode Beyond the Firmament” delivers clobbering vocals and a mysterious atmosphere that thickens and swallows you inside. Smashing and guttural, the playing warms the senses as the storming increases, causing mud to collect, the warm guitar work and trudging crumbling away. “Nocturnal Deities of Winter” drips in as strange doomy power collects, morbid growls lashing as the track slowly comes into form. The playing then unloads, weighing down and delivering bolting speed, the sweltering heat destroying your mentality. Leads glisten as your nerve endings begin to tingle, bleeding strangeness as it fades into the distance. The title track ends the record and begins cosmically, taking you on a bizarre journey before the growls set in and twists muscle. The cloud cover increases as the guitars send flares into the stratosphere, Rudolfsson wailing, “Not of this world,” as the track buries itself into the earth.

13 albums into their run and three decades plus of scathing death/doom hasn’t slowed down Runemagick, who prove their tank is pretty fucking full on “Beyond the Cenotaph of Mankind.” The power and occult visions are strong as ever, and their ability to make you feel physically and mentally raked over the coals is unwavering. This band operates in legendary territory, and their presence in the metallic world is both vital and enthralling as they hammer us yet again.

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