The three-piece Black Metal act A.M.S.G., or Ad Majorem Satanae Gloriam for those who'd rather not usw the anagram version, may not have unleashed a lot of studio material, but has been making a name for themselves within the underground community. Hailing from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and formed back in 2007 as a two-piece including guitarist, vocalist and bassist Angelfukk Witchhammer (Gloria Diaboli, ex-Rites of Thy Degrinhgolade) and drummer Tormentor (Begrime Exemious, ex-Weapon), remaining this way until the latter left in 2012, and various other members came and went over the years. Since then, the cast behind the music has been reduced to simply Angelfukk and drummer Kaos Abhorrer for 2015's The Forbidden Transformation EP through Profound Lore Records. But has the wait from their loyal fanbase been worth it, or is this new outing sub-par at best?

The Forbidden Transformation can carry itself a bit like an early Darkthrone recording as far as the analog tendencies are concerned. During the title track, static like that of a record player or worn out cassette can be heard during the audio samples torn from the film The Final Conflict that make up a good chunk of its thirteen-and-a-half minute length. After well over four minutes, the slower paced drums kick in with a cold, slightly ritualistic intent that gives way to some furious fretwork and bass kicks, as well as some catchy Mercyful Fate grade NWOBHM guitar hooks that give the distant recording and heavily echoed raspy vocals a grander first wave sensation among the aforementioned anguish that, come eight minutes in, throws a little melancholic melody your way with additional vocal effects thrown in for good measure. While an incredibly varied track, it's all paced quite well for the roughly eight minutes of music you received between the audio samples provided, all of which relying largely on, and succeeding with, that lo-fi audio quality. This is especially so with the deeper dialogue come ten minutes in, and the thud of the brief accompanying tribal drum beat that takes advantage by making it seem like it's right behind you.

On the flip side there's "Luciferion Lycanthropic Lust" which, after the howling of wolves, becomes a very bass heavy track that the confusingly less raw sound doesn't quite do justice. It seems like there's a faint hint of Folk Metal thrown in akin to a more aggressive Finntroll without as strong a Oompa presence. What follows is cold and grim second wave Black Metal full of blast beats and subtle rhythms, as if blending a mixture of early Marduk and Immortal with random melodic tendencies across an audio quality that is noticeably sharper and crisp in comparison, especially in the vocals that are now clear enough to be understood for the most part. It's an infectiously dark sounding performance with plenty of changes, like its predecessor, though not quite as powerful overall.

The same goes for "The Gleaming Tower", a sombre piece that feels more mystical in comparison to the harsh frostbitten terrains of the previous entries. There is some epic guitar work scattered about that throws some technicality your way, not to mention cold hooks that slow the tempo down to allow more heavily altered vocals to whip through the audio as if razors within a mid-Winter's wind, but, for the most part, it all seems to congeal together into an odd hybrid of rough nineties Black Metal worship instead of it's own intriguingly dynamic expulsion of the sinister occult. On top of that, some of the guitars come the seven minute mark don't quite share the same tuning, being slightly off in the background to give the performance a very apparent dull metallic flavor that doesn't really work with the nihilistic audio sample calling for a great culling due to overpopulation.

As a whole, The Forbidden Transformation has plenty of good ideas and winds up paced very well, though does seem to go downhill after the title track. "The Forbidden Transformation" is a fantastic slab of early to second generation Black Metal concepts and ideas, while "Luciferion Lycanthropic Lust" and "The Gleaming Tower" only seem to become more stagnant the further in you get, the former of the two still having a notable presence that makes it far more memorable than the latter. On top of that, this is an EP you are going to want to listen to in a cold, dark location, preferably on vinyl as opposed to the available compact disc version (even though this release is apparently being sold as a CD/LP bundle), as A.M.S.G.'s performances really do take on new light the rougher the audio quality is, as evidenced by the progressively more digital sound of the last two tracks. However, even with the two b-sides not being on par with the title track, The Forbidden Transformation does not fail to deliver on the expectations of the band's fans, as well as any newcomers who happen upon it.

Review originally posted at Apoch's Metal Review.