Kicking about officially since 1999, the death-black metal fusion known as EMBLAZONED previously only had a demo, "Nocturnal Arsonist", and an EP "A Ceremony of Hellfire" to their credit, the latter arriving eight years ago. Now comes another EP for 2013, "The Living Magisterium", and despite the expanse of time between the releases, EMBLAZONED are building momentum. Whether or not this equates into the leap of faith necessary to release a full-length remains to be seen, but "The Living Magisterium" will satiate the band's followers and pique future interest.
Starting "The Living Magisterium" on a chilly note with a creepy coldwave intro, "Premonition", EMBLAZONED heavies up in a hurry with intense parries between blasting and skulking tempos.
The only real nuisance to "The Living Magisterium" comes from the band throwing their rasping vocalist Jeff Plewa largely to the front of the often gritty mix. EMBLAZONED sounds like they're just getting their wheels remounted on "Extinction of Creation" but the recovery comes quickly in the second half of the song and the rest of "The Living Magisterium" then steamrolls along with a barely-discernable handful of timing flubs and missed marks.
On a positive note, the sound structuring of "Bound by Eternal Penance" and "In Ex Cathedra" is exhibited by Alex "Pulverizer" Pulvermacher's clubbing double hammers that gel fluidly with Kevin Forsythe's lancing riffs and puncturing solos.
Forsythe shreds an isolated series of dirge lines on "Refuge in Darkness", a bloody affair that at least turns a graceful shade on the slower portions. The opening notes of "Refuge in Darkness" are not merely morbid; they're unsettling and they're repeated like haunted ostinato even as the song picks up in severity. Forsythe's sinister riffing on the intro to "In Ex Cathedra" sets up for plenty of rumbling thrash sequences countered by crawling bridges that are gobbled by Jeff Plewa's disruptive blend of deep chokes and serpentine yelps. His vocal tracks are patterned between two varied pitches ranging from meaty to gory.
As Kevin Forsythe also lays down the EP's bass tracks, he rings as a pretty impressive performer who knows how to wrestle the grayest tones befitting of the drubbing velocity of "The Living Magisterium". However long it takes for EMBLAZONED to follow this one up remains to be seen, but it stands to reason no eardrum will be safe at that point.