厄鬼 or Aek Gwi, is probably one of the best black metal bands to emerge from South Korea. Returning this year with a second full length titled 凶夢 (Hideous Dreams) through GoatowaRex, the mastermind Vhan behind it all takes it a step further with this album to conjure the spirits of the other side to make this album hauntingly evil and dark. Joining Vhan on instrumentals is Li Chao, the genius behind Chinese horror ambient group Enmity to return to the black metal underground to handle the vocal duty and as producer of the entire album. Alongside Vhan and Li Chao is the wrathful lady Fumika known for her work with the Japanese doom metal outfit Begrabnis. She lends her ethereal and haunting female voice on the album to add an atmosphere that is indescribable. With this musical ensemble they produced an unparalleled work of three chapter of an eastern ghost story.
This album is all around a deep journey into dark lore and untold ghost stories with a perfect soundtrack of ever present terror and darkness. Each chapter plays like a story that grabs hold of the listener and brings them in and captivates like the hold of a dark entity. The guitar work and drums stay true to the paved path led by many other black metal bands but also perfectly keeps a flow that Vhan has created to keep the atmosphere strong and all surrounding. Now is this album a true black metal release? Yes it is but it is also so much more than that. This album of almost 35 minutes gives more than just fast, raw and aggressive black metal. It bleeds creativity and stays in the mind even after one listen. If you are a fan of black metal that you can listen to on a dark night with the lights off and feel like you must sleep with the lights on after listening, this album is for you.
Overall Score: 9.0/10
Review by Neil Andersen