Formed in 2018 by Paradise Lost guitarist Gregor Mackintosh, Strigoi are a nascent entity hereby presenting their very first material, 'Abandon All Faith'. According to the band's online biography, Strigoi are “named after the troubled spirits in Romanian mythology who could rise from the grave and assume an entirely different form”. This seems entirely fitting considering this band formed out of the ashes of previous Gregor Mackintosh project Vallenfyre, only a few days after the final chapter in Vallenfyre's history was written with their last ever live show. Chris Casket on bass and Waltteri Väyrynen on the drums complete this curious and exciting new three-piece. Having no previous point of reference for the band, this being their very first ever material put to record, this writer had no prior expectations, so it was with an open mind that I dived into 'Abandon All Faith'.
After the short, ominous intro track 'The Rising Horde', 'Phantoms' proceeds to kick our collectives behinds with its furious drumming, eerie guitar tones and guttural vocals. A mixture of slow, brooding, down-tuned rhythm guitar, fast-paced icy cold black metal sections and thrashy, chugging riffs, 'Phantoms' is a violent and intriguing cocktail which reveals Strigoi to be a chimera of sorts, a fusing together of various molten forms of metal into one hideous beast. Only one track into their debut and Strigoi have already impressed.
'Throne of Disgrace' is a blistering, full-throttle and no-holds barred attack which lasts less than two minutes but takes no prisoners.
'Carved Into the Skin' is a slower, brooding track that shows the band's doom metal influences, giving the lead guitar a chance to create dark atmospheres, blending nicely with the plodding drums and thunderous rhythm guitars.
'Parasite' opens with a dissonant, disharmonious, bleak and industrial section before heading into what feels somewhat like melodic death metal territory reminiscent of Entombed or Grave, showing yet another interesting influence to Strigoi's writing.
'Abandon All Faith' is a stunningly diverse and intriguing record by a band that takes multiple influences from the wide spectrum of extreme metal and weaves them together seamlessly into a rich tapestry that is aggressive, melodic, capricious, heavy and hard hitting. Like the shape-shifting monster that the band are named after, Strigoi are a wild and unpredictable force, and one to be watched for the future as there is surely much more great material to come from this dark and mysterious act.