Trondheim’s Misotheist officially unleashed their third album, Vessels by Which the Devil Is Made Flesh, on March 1. Misotheist already wowed us with their self-titled debut in 2018 and For the Glory of Your Redeemer in 2021. A great deal of excitement has been mounting around Vessels by Which the Devil Is Made Flesh. In fact, it was one of the releases that I was most eagerly anticipating. The label behind Misotheist — the revered Terratur Possessions, which was founded in 2007 by the genius Ole A. Aune — is, in my view, the best extreme music label, besides The Sinister Initiative. Terratur is synonymous with quality, authenticity, and integrity. Vessels by Which the Devil Is Made Flesh serves as a confirmation of Terratur’s continued domination in their field.

Although there is much mystery surrounding Misotheist, we do know that Brage Kråbøl is part of the band. We adore Brage’s one-man project Enevelde, which unveiled the stellar En Gildere Død via Terratur last May. Brage is the son of Terje Kråbøl and the nephew of Stian Kråbøl — both insanely talented and prolific Spellemann / “Norwegian Grammy”-nominated artists. We eagerly await the debut album under the Kråbøl banner titled Never, which includes these three musicians plus M. Kråbøl on trumpet. One of Never’s tracks, “Fundaments,” dropped last year on TERRATUR COMPENDIUM MMXXIII. “Perish” premiered more recently. Based on these extraordinary songs and the figures involved, I truly believe that Kråbøl is one of the most promising acts around in terms of artistic potential. In short, Brage is one of the leading black metal talents of his generation.

Vessels by Which the Devil Is Made Flesh consists of three parts — “Stigma,” the title track, and the nearly twenty-minute epic masterpiece of a final composition “Whitewashed Tombs.” Vessels by Which the Devil Is Made Flesh is a brilliantly crafted offering. The amount of musical ideas that Misotheist has managed to cram into this complicated record is astounding. Meanwhile, this effort remains totally cohesive. Misotheist brings listeners raw and aggressive black metal. Although Vessels by Which the Devil Is Made Flesh is pregnant with the spirit of old, it still comes across as quite refreshing. Misotheist’s art may be free of ego, but it’s highly distinctive. This album is not the work of servile black metal followers but torchbearers.

Despite the music’s brutality, it is also exceptionally beautiful. There are moments, especially on the final track, that may be described as gentle, even soothing. Yes, Vessels by Which the Devil Is Made Flesh is both hellish and ethereal. Misotheist excels at creating entrancing melodies that haunt within their dense atmospheres. This record encompasses a variety of different tones. It contains much more playful energy than one might realize at first. The riffs intoxicate as much as they threaten. The guitar work and synths often soar. The keys add much emotional charge rather than weakening the music. The bass is spot-on throughout. The amazing drums, which are worlds more enjoyable than those found in most extreme metal efforts, are one of this album’s distinguishing factors. The nuances of this opus will continue to unfold with each listen. Vessels by Which the Devil Is Made Flesh requires multiple plays before audiences can even begin to grasp it.

Needless to say, Brage delivers an exceptional performance on vocals. We can always rely on him to incinerate us with his ridiculously fiery and explosive work. His charisma here is as strong as it has ever been and commands our full attention. However, whether his vocals are present or not, the music never ceases to fill us with a sense of wonder. We should note that IX of Urfaust, a legendary Dutch outfit that was laid to rest this past August, makes a delightfully demented guest appearance on the title track. His unexpected exotic chanting stands in nice juxtaposition to Brage’s low and harsh voice.

Vessels by Which the Devil Is Made Flesh was perfectly produced. The album has a massive sound that adds to its overpowering effect. Vessels by Which the Devil Is Made Flesh proves larger than death. If this masterwork is not included on year-end lists, we can accuse those responsible of negligence.

Rating: 4.5/5


Misotheist, Vessels by Which the Devil Is Made Flesh, is now available. Order your copy here.