The Ajna Offensive; possibly one of the most consistently brilliant labels to ever emerge from the US. I have yet to ever hear (or read) something from this label that I did not find amazing. No easy feat. The last Negative Plane release was utterly amazing, but I had heard a few off-color comments about their newest offering 'Stained Glass Revelations', not that this deterred me, but it did plant some skepticism in my peanut-sized brain. What a mistake that was, by all means.
Their newest sonic ritual is nothing short of brilliant. Negative Plane managed to take what was amazing about their first album (evil-as-could-be atmosphere, raw production, etc.) and expanded upon that with a new found (not that new, but much more pronounced) flair for the psychedelic. Not happy-hippie psychedelic, but fried on LSD at a human sacrifice psychedelic. There are a few moments on this album that could cause sheer terror if your mindset was not in the right place. The music is incorrigibly evil and everything is reverbed to hell, making it sound incredibly cavernous and harrowing. For whatever reason, the production/mix occasionally reminds me of Satyricon's The Shadowthrone album. The guitars have a brilliantly reverbed tone, with just enough distortion to get the job done (aka; not gain tweaked to all hell). The drums are nice and clear in the most organic way possible. The vocals are mid-rangey, guttural and full of passion. The bass is clearly audible on the entire recording. The pianos/organs are upfront in the mix without becoming annoying. More or less the perfect mix for a black metal album.
This is undoubtedly black metal, but also hints at old-school death metal (more in function that form) and obscure 70s prog/psych music. Everything plays off of each other on the album to create a cacophony of pure occult ritual. Truthfully, this is one of the best black metal albums I have heard in a very long time. Everything makes sense, works with, as opposed to each other and creates an album worthy of any accolades it receives. Pure and utter occult brilliance for esoteric disciples of the highest order. Do NOT miss this album for ANY reason.