It’s good to know there are still labels you can trust to release quality music time and again. Svart are one such label and this release, from New Zealand devil rock troupe The House of Capricorn is typically dark and dirty. Boasting just nine tracks in forty minutes, ‘morning star rise’ is a blistering paean to the Bacchanalian glories of heavy rock music, and if you dig lascivious rock played by the devil’s henchmen (and who doesn’t?), then this is for you.
Kicking off with ‘the road to hell is marked’, The house of Capricorn make no bones about where their affiliations lie, with gritty vocals laid over storming guitar riffs and bass that appears to be emanating from the earth’s crust. Equally cool is the thunderous ‘in light of Lucifer’ which hints at a love of black metal grind with its atonal guitar lines, only for the band to kick into a bastardised rock ‘n’ roll that packs a ferocious groove. This, to me, is what the overrated Ghost should sound like, all salacious vocals and powerful riffs imbued with hints of stoner, metal and alternative all at once, and it’s suitably dark and dirty throughout. ‘Our shrouded king’ once again draws the line between hard hitting rock ‘n’ roll and black metal, recalling both Satyricon’s latter day sound and Motorhead’s ever unpleasant hedonistic urge. Veering into longer territory, ‘Ashlands’ is a seven-minute exercise in dark rock exploration and it is one of the very best tracks here, the band using the track’s extended run time to roam the rock ‘n’ roll hinterland in a manner that only serves to add further punch to the shorter, grittier songs. ‘The only star in the sky’ is shorter than its predecessor and heads off into Sisters of mercy territory with its throbbing bass lines and sinister groove.
‘Ivory crown’ sees The house of Capricorn unleashing huge flaming riffs and tethering them to a distressingly addictive melody for a song that could easily be lifted from the album as a single. It’s gothic rock, for sure, but supercharged with nitro-powered riffs and a whiff of the unholy. ‘Watching angels fall’ is equally intense, with its chrome-plated percussion and concise chorus. A short, mysterious track ‘Covenant’s ark’ builds a tense atmosphere that then segues perfectly into the album’s lengthy closer, ‘Dragon of revelations’, an eleven minute beast that melds huge, flaming riffs, a slow, doomy tempo and dark harmonies in the vein of Ancient vvisdom, to place a suitably dramatic full stop at the end of this atmospheric dark rock record.
With hints of Type O Negative, Paradise Lost, Chrome Division and Satyricon all buried in the band’s DNA, The House of Capricorn have done a good job of developing their own unique sound from out of the elements. With impressively memorable melodies, crushing riffs and an impressive appreciation of how to build atmosphere, ‘Morning star rise’ is a refreshingly different album that will certainly please those who worship the darkness.