Invocation of the Black Sacrament | St. Louis black metal duo Stormruler unleashes Sacred Rites & Black Magick

Photo of Stormruler by JT Ibanez

You don’t have to fly to Scandinavia to get your black metal fix: the face-meltingest new release in the genre comes from right here in St. Louis. Local duo Jason Asberry on vocals, guitars, and bass and Jesse Schobel on drums began writing and recording in 2019, but it took until 2021 before they unleashed their debut album Under the Burning Eclipse. The self-release quickly caught the ear of the metal mainstays at Napalm Records, who snatched the band up and re-released the album to widespread acclaim; Decibel Magazine called it “one of the best black metal albums of the year.”

Now, Stormruler is back with their sophomore effort, Sacred Rites & Black Magick, released today via Napalm Records. The songs have all the hallmarks of the genre—the grand scale, the dark fantasy themes, the blazing fast riffage, the onslaught of drums blasting at you at thousands of beats per minute. But it’s not just a constant onslaught—Stormruler has a real sense for dynamics and orchestral grandeur.

This is evidenced by songs like the brutal title track and the album’s second single, “Internal Fulmination of the Grand Deceivers,” which both open with a portentous, echo-drenched acoustic guitar strumming a folky melody before the electric guitar and drums explode onto the scene. If these songs were just thirty seconds of acoustic guitar followed by six or eight minutes of guitar and drums played as fast as humanly possible, man, that’d be a slog, but that’s no issue here. Instead, the pace ebbs and flows, blazing riffage shifting into acoustic interludes or slow, ominously chugging verses before Asberry and Schobel once again blast off at fullspeed in perfect lockstep. The ups and downs, the constant shifting in tempo and energy level delivered with impeccable technical skill, is what keeps things interesting.

“Upon Frozen Shores” puts Asberry’s riffing hand and Schobel’s kick drums to work at blistering speed, but that “imperial buzzsaw” riff (as the band calls it) rises and falls with the melody of a good, sloppy Celtic drinking song. The song rocks, but it also grooves, and it has an acoustic breakdown about five minutes in that’s downright pretty. There’s so much going on in this song, and it’s all good.

“This album is on another level in comparison to our previous offering,” the band says. “It falls in the same vein of the melodic second wave black metal worship of Under the Burning Eclipse, but with a more intense and darker touch. It’s got the high speed buzzsaw attack we love, crushing grooves, solid leads, ambience within the interludes and acoustic passages, as well as lyrics that tell a story.”

Sacred Rites & Black Magicks is available now from Napalm Records as a CD or double LP, including a limited edition in marbled white, black, and blue vinyl, and the album is available to stream at the link below. After a tour throughout the U.S. and Canada this past spring (one that, oddly, did not include a St. Louis date), the band is scheduled to hit the road in Europe next year with Cannibal Corpse, Dark Funeral, and Ingested. See below for their full itinerary. | Jason Green

STORMRULER w/ Cannibal Corpse, Dark Funeral and Ingested – Europe 2023 tour:

03.10 Hengelo, NET – Metropool

03.11 Speyer, GER – Halle 101

03.12 Lausanne, SWI – Metropol

03.14 Toulouse, FRA – Le Bikini

03.15 Pamplona, SPA – Sala Totem

03.16 Madrid, SPA – La Paqui

03.17 Barcelona, SPA – Razzmatazz 2

03.18 Lyon, FRA – Ninkasi Gerland

03.19 Stuttgart, GER – Im Wizemann

03.21 Rennes, FRA – Antipode

03.22 Paris, FRA – Elysee Montmartre

03.23 Cologne, GER – Essigfabrik

03.24 Zurich, SWI – Komplex 457

03.25 Prague, CZE – Palak Akropolis

03.26 Budapest, HUN – Barba Negra

03.28 Munich, GER – Backstage Werk

03.29 Vienna, AUT – Arena

03.30 Cracow, POL – Hyde Park

03.31 Leipzig, GER – Hellraiser

04.1 Coesfeld, GER – Fabrik

04.2 Berlin, GER – Huxley’s Neue Welt

04.4 Copenhagen, DEN – Amager Bio

04.5 Stockholm, SWE – Klubben

04.6 Oslo, NOR – Inferno Metal Festival

04.7 Gothenburg, SWE – Pustervik

04.8 Aarhus, DEN – Train

04.9 Hamburg, GER – Gruenspan

04.11 Hannover, GER – Capitol

04.12 Ledien, NET – Gebr. de Nobel

04.13 Antwerp, BEL – Trix

04.14 Strasbourg, FRA – La Laiterie

04.15 Geiselwind, GER – Music Hall

04.16 Lille, FRA – Le Splendid

04.18 Bristol, UK – O2 Academy

04.19 Glasgow, UK – Barrowland

04.21 Manchester, UK – Academy

04.22 London, UK – O2 Forum Kentish Town

04.23 Nottingham, UK – Rock City

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