Zurvan – Gorge of Blood

Zurvanism was once a strand of the pre-Islamic Persian religion Zoroastrianism. It posited the existence of a morally neutral and absolutely transcendent creator God, who was connected to infinite time, as well as the one who engendered the principle of good (Ahura-Mazda) and that of evil (Ahriman). With the fall of the Sassanid empire and the onset of Islam Zoroastrians became a minuscule minority in Persia, with the vast majority fleeing to India, and the Zurvanite branch of the faith simply disappeared. Since then, the absolute creator God Zurvan has lived on as a middle-Persian word for time, an antagonist in the video game Prince of Persia and – most importantly for this review – an Iranian-German black metal band. Life comes at you fast.

Before us lay the second album of Zurvan, the members of which hail from Iran but now reside in Germany. The first one, Hichestan was released in 2014, and since then the  band has done a number of live gigs and – now – released Gorge of Blood.

Zurvan are rather rough, drawing on the less melodic and epic side of black metal. There is an aura of Finnish black metal here – Impaled Nazarene and Barathrum, first of all. A song like “Convulsion” goes more for the Hellhammer/Celtic Frost type of old-school stuff, which must be said to be the core style of the band, even as many different types of black metal fuse. While “Self-Mutilation” sounds like early Mayhem with a DSBM temperament, “Aggression” offers a repetitive and quite beautiful guitar melody reminiscent of something from early Summoning – but not without reconnecting to the thrashy, old-school black metal riffs from time to time. There are, once again, plenty of different branches of the metal blackest represented on this album. At some points, I detect a Greek influence, but that is probably mainly due to the vocals which are very similar to those of early Rotting Christ – suitably desperate, laying somewhere between growls and screams in a way that fits the rough-and-tumble playing style of the band.

This type of black metal is often hit-or-miss type of stuff, but here there is enough going on and a suitably old and rotten atmosphere to make sure the hits get the upper hand. I somehow feel an urge to listen to this in my car. Gorge of Blood is released on Satanath Records, and available from the label’s Bandcamp page.

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