A Pale Crown


NARBELETH may have relocated across half the globe, and they may have left part of their dark hearts in Havana—but they have lost none of their resolute evil.
April 22, 2024

NARBELETH is a Black Metal duo recently relocated to Spain from Cuba. They formed 16 years ago in 2008 and are dedicated to the purest of the black arts. On January 5, 2024 they released their seventh album on Folter Records. The album, “A Pale Crown,” comprises scathing eight tracks, including a SATYRICON cover, and runs for close to 45 minutes. A full cargo load with this one.

The band borrows its name from the Tolkien mythos. It comes from the Sindarin tongue and translates to ‘sun-waning,’ referring to a period of fifty-four days that saw the fading of the year into winter. Listening to “A Pale Crown” and the band’s previous releases, they don’t seem to be a Tolkien-themed band at all, perhaps selecting their moniker for its dark associations—the same way a lot of bands borrow from various Folk traditions without themselves being Folk.

“A Pale Crown” is a classic Black Metal album, with a deep-rooted lo-fi vibe and replete with all the best Black Metal markers including tremolo riffs, grayhaze distortion, galloping blast beats, and demonic vocals. And while it is definitely lo-fi, it is not quite analog—that is, the recording quality is surprisingly good. While you get the rawness of Black Metal, you can still clearly distinguish each instrument, including bass and lower registers. I also love the album art—a stark black and white rudimentary sketching depicting a small cluster of standing stones in a clearing crowned by a cosmic horror sky and being encroached upon by disturbing earthbound horrors on the ground.

The album itself at first assaults us with three solid tracks of heavy nut common Black Metal. These tracks deliver exactly what most fans are expecting. All good so far. But then “On the Sight of Dusk” happens. This track has the outer wrappings of yet another consistent BM track—very similar to the first three tracks—but then an acoustic break drops in mid-track and when it is done, instead of just falling back to acoustic motif introduced in the first half, the band deconstructs their phrasing and then rebuilds to a brutal assault. Best track on the album. Afterwards, the band goes on a tear with the next two tracks. “Of Moonlight and Spirits” is another great offering with several well-timed breaks filled on isolated, savage riffs. The very next track, Witness and Provider,” is a full-on visceral assault. One of the heaviest tracks on the album. These three central tracks make the album.

I should also note the SATYRICON cover, “The King of the Shadowthrone, is a faithful cover. They slow it down just a notch which adds a slightly down-tuned vibe. It is also produced to much higher engineering standards than the original. The acoustic interlude is fantastic as are stripped down riffs. Another standout track, this one.

“A Pale Crown” is another great artifact from NARBELETH. Dakkar and Vondok may have relocated across half the globe, and they may have left part of their dark hearts in Havana—as happens when we leave our homes—but they have lost none of their resolute evil.


8 / 10









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" A Pale Crown " Track-listing:

1. Pathways to Occult

2. A Pale Crown

3. To Step Beyond the Veil

4. On The Sight of Dusk

5. Of Moonlight and Spirits

6. Witness and Provider

7. Their Ethereal Dance Through Mist and Starlight

8. The King of the Shadowthrone (Satyricon cover)


Narbeleth Lineup:

Dakkar – All instruments, vocals

Vindok – Drums


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