After putting out a debut in 2014, Denver’s brutal death metal machine Eye of Minerva returns a year later with a new album and two new members. Former bassist and lead vocalist Joey Maurer departed the band to make family his main priority so his void was filled with two: Jeff Cicero on bass and Jeff “Murder” Wager picking up the mic.

The material for this album was already in the works before the inclusion of Cicero and Wager, so they basically picked up where Maurer left off with the rest of the band. Band leader, guitarist and supplier of the screaming vocals, Derek Duvak has done a fantastic job of incorporating them into his esoteric creation of brutality.

This album shows a progression from the year’s previous release, Through the Archway of Perdition. With Wager the vocals have been given an extra bit of brutality from Maurer. Wager just looks and sounds like death metal. The song construction has been given some balance of melo death moments with brutal death. There are elements where melo death sneaks in, but right before it gets comfortable you’re slammed with brutal death guitar chaos or an abrupt stop/start in the action. The jerky song structure takes some getting used to but really does add to the chaos that Eye of Minerva plays.

While I think the majority of the album is good, there are two standout tracks to me: “One Spirit Spoke Through Twelve” and “Of Asp and Warlock.” These two tracks represent the high point of not only this album, but I think of the band so far. They are well put together, crushing and probably the catchiest headbangers.

The album is chaos and while Duvak is leading from the front with his guitar and screaming, Chris Moen is covering the back on drums. He is back there hammering away on that kit, punishing the pedals and snare, making sure the cymbals aren’t left out either. Moen can really go to town on his drums and like all good drummers drive the song forward.

In this record, I hear shades of Origin, early Suffocation and a bit of Deicide. I’m not a huge death metal fan and am not intimately familiar with the scene so I can’t make some wonderful in-depth analysis of what they do. The addition of Wager is a plus and feels very organic to it all with Cicero giving the overall sound a bit of extra depth on bass. What I can tell you -for sure- is that Blackened Kingdom Forged in Flame kicks ass and shows a progression from their last album. It’s a brutal album.

Blackened Kingdom Forged in Flame is available now from DHMS records.

Best Track: “Of Asp and Warlock”

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