Band: Hosts of Lord
Album: A Chamber Above Cosmic Waters
Genre: Black/unblack metal
Label: Vision of God Records
Release Date: August 20, 2021
Album length: 32 Minutes
The Grandiose Slaughter of Leviathan
Mysterious Council of Unknown Divinities
His Presence Collapsed the Age Old Orbits
The Trembling of Shades
Elemental Powers Shamed in Public Spectacle
A War Against Dark Dominions
A Chamber Above Cosmic Waters
Unknowable Formless Void (outro)
Who should listen: for fans of old-school, industrial black metal; Horde
Remember the old days of 90’s black metal when the sound was raw and the music was raucous? That’s Hosts of Lord in a nutshell. Cullen Toner, performing as Μαθθίας (Matthias, if you don’t read Greek), is prolific (opens new window). Between his two one-man bands Hosts of Lord (opens new window) and Dawnbreaker (opens new window) (interview here (opens new window)), he has been cranking out one or two albums a year for the past few years. Now part of the Vision of God (opens new window) family, Hosts of Lord’s A Chamber Above Cosmic Waters is an unrelenting wall of sound that will wake the dead.
Music and Vocals
Musically, A Chamber Above Cosmic Waters is classic black metal with a few modern twists. Frenetic guitars and drums create a wall of sound, with secondary guitars lending a melody over top of the noise. If you are itching for raw, gritty old-school black metal, A Chamber Above Cosmic Waters will scratch that itch! The melody of some songs works into your brain and helps break the monotony of the wall of sound. Two shorter songs in the middle and end also add variety, and bits of synths peek through cautiously here and there.
The vocals also hearken back to old-school black metal, but it’s almost impossible to discern what Μαθθίας is screaming, even with lyrics in hand. For much of the album, it sounds like the lyrics are the recording of a frog in a tin can. Interesting, but not the most pleasant to listen to.
The lyrics are pulled straight from Scripture, so you can’t go wrong there. The Grandiose Slaughter of Leviathan is Job 39-40 (opens new window), Mysterious Council of Unknown Divinities is Psalm 82 (opens new window), His Presence Collapsed the Age Old Orbits is Habakkuk 3 (opens new window), and so on. While powerful to sing Scripture, the vocal tinniness makes it difficult to appreciate the lyrics and the message unfortunately gets lost in the noise.
I’m not sure what the mindset was on the production of this album, but it seems ‘dirtier’ (grittier, harsher) than past Hosts of Lord albums. I assume this was intentional, perhaps a trying out of different techniques or new equipment. Personally, I’m not a fan of the new sound of Hosts of Lord. Their past two albums sound cleaner, better, fuller, with richer production throughout. This raw sound might appeal to some, and I appreciate it when artists try new things, but the production on A Chamber Above Cosmic Waters is too tin-canny for my tastes.
In short, A Chamber Above Cosmic Waters is a step back in the progression of Hosts of Lord. His previous two albums are stronger musically and in production value. Still, Μαθθίας is to be applauded for trying out new sounds and styles. Even though it’s not as strong of an album when compared with previous Hosts of Lord and Dawnbreaker albums, it definitely sounds different, and no one can accuse Μαθθίας of being musically complacent. While I applaud his creativity and the classic black metal sound he offers here, I do hope that he reverts back to his former production method and sound. Because he is so prolific, I’m guessing we won’t have to wait long at all to hear his next offering, and I will be glad to check that out to see how Hosts of Lord continues to evolve.