February 8, 2023

Now, on a blind listen, I would swear these guys are Swedish. The band name sounds Swedish, right? And the music is total Gothenburg melodic death metal worship, so the fact Ontborg are in fact from Italy is all the more amusing. Formed in 2017, they released the excellent Within The Depths Of Oblivion in 2019, before the pandemic hit. Now, almost four years later, the second full-length Following The Steps Of Damnation will be out on February 24th through Black Lion Records, which, actually is a Swedish label.

Ontborg are exploring the golden middle-ground between melodic death and black metal, reminiscing a lot what band like Necrophobic, Sacramentum or Unanimated have been doing, with a strong emphasis on melody throughout. Opening track Steps Of Damnation, which is also the first single and video off the album is the best example of what you should expect – fantastic melodic leads, not-too-extreme (actually very articulate vocals) and a rhythm section that doesn’t overshadow the guitars but complements them. The characteristic HM-2 guitar sound is all over the place and is the only thing that pushes some of the songs in the death metal direction. If they chose a more polished sound, there would be a stronger sense of a Dissection or Naglfar influence, but the chainsaw guitars avoid that. The songs Nightfall and I Am The Night are great examples in that sense. This is an album full of memorable guitar riffs and ominous melodies, building confidently an overall impression of not just being a spiritual successor of the bands previously mentioned, but something with its own purpose and inspiration.

Melodic death is an overcrowded sub-genre and I find it really hard to be impressed by new releases, because it has all been said and done before, but Ontborg should be doing something right here. To The North, for example, dials back on the tempo and just crushes with a repeated riff that immediately infects your brain and refuses to let go. Did I mention the artwork? Juanjo Castellano’s drawing is a masterpiece, which adds up to the atmosphere and overall professional package. One of the early highlights of 2023.

9/10


Ontborg in Facebook

You can pre-order Following The Steps Of Damnation from HERE