UNDERLORD, Rise of the Ancient Kings (2003, Rage of Achilles)
I do love these covers that feature literally every evil metal signifier possible, crammed into one disjointed composition. A pentagram, upside down crosses (on fire, naturally), crazy swords, occult symbols, and of course a seriously regal skull in the midst of it all. As with the nouveau riche, this nouveau mal skull is just a bit too ostentatious in his displays of malevolence. You just know he drives some fancy luxury hearse with the vanity plate, “EVLSKLL”, and he just never takes that fucking crown off. How else would you know how royally sinister he is?
An even mix of first and second wave black metal, Underlord offer no surprises and nothing new. The playing is remarkably crisp, considering how shitty the recording is, but the riffs are dime-a-dozen Venom, Bathory and Mayhem knockoffs, with the obligatory croaking vocals and lyrics about war, Satan, and ancient wisdom and what have you. If you think of Hellhammer as more than just the shitty band that eventually became Celtic Frost, or you think Sodom peaked with In the Sign of Evil, then maybe Underlord will tweak your nipples just right.
— Friar Johnsen