Review & Track Premiere: Nupraptor, The Heresiarch


[Click play above to stream ‘Burning the Believers’ from Nupraptor’s The Heresiarch. Album is out Dec. 15 on Shadow Kingdom Records.]

For anyone into etymology — words, not bugs; that’s entomology — the title of Nupraptor‘s first long-player, The Heresiarch, will read plainly. I had to look it up to be sure it was a real word, but it is. Its two parts, “heresy” and “arch” denote one who is prime among heretics, like an archpriest, and in terms of the Baltimore one-man outfit’s Shadow Kingdom Records-delivered debut, if vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Matt St. Ours is campaigning for the position, he makes a compelling argument for taking ownership of the position. The album is comprised of seven tracks, and from the introductory “Black Mass” through the 11-minute closing epic “The Fall of Christ,” which gleefully recounts the crucifixion story, there isn’t one of them that on some level doesn’t play toward the title.

It’s a unipolarity of theme that, like St. Ours‘ shredding lead work, is born out of classic heavy metal, and the oldschool is indeed the well from which Nupraptor most readily draws. Drums, while programmed, march through straightforward arrangements of elder-style doom, from the Sabbath-via-Trouble march of “Through the Smoke” to the unbridled Candlemass idolatry of “Before the Eyes of God,” and in in vocal approach, St. Ours seems to place himself in the post-Robert Lowe, Messiah Marcolin, sphere, with stylistic flourishes tossed in from the likes of Witchfinder General and others of the NWOBHM who readily crossed the line to doom much as he does here. If you were living the dream and had a dual-deck, The Heresiarch is the kind of record you might dub for one of your buddies and draw the Nupraptor logo on the tape label, perhaps crudely.

Over the last decade, Shadow Kingdom has made itself an essential purveyor of precisely this type of fare: new acts purposefully breaking old ground. The label’s passion for the NWOBHM in particular is a thread one can hear woven through much of what it releases, and Nupraptor fit well into this oeuvre. St. Ours signals early with the aforementioned intro “Black Mass” that his guitar will be in the lead position in terms of arrangement focus, and the 50-minute offering goes according to plan. While it’s Nupraptor‘s first release, St. Ours has past experience working on his own, having founded metallers White Hornet as a one-man project before expanding it to a full lineup, and sure enough, as “Black Mass” gives way to the rolling plod of “Through the Smoke,” that history and the sense of command comes into play almost immediately.


A spoken introduction and initial crash begin “Burning the Believers,” which delivers its title in a whisper before unfurling one of The Heresiarch‘s most satisfying nods, topped with a mournful solo and brimming with downer atmosphere and layered, effected vocals. It is doom for doomers, but though St. Ours is based in Baltimore, it’s worth noting that Nupraptor don’t directly play to Maryland doom of the Pentagram or The Obsessed style. Sure, the pace in “Burning the Believers” picks up in the song’s second half, and the nine-minute title-track, the penultimate “Wasting Away” and “The Fall of Christ” have their rocking moments as well, but this is given to an Iron Maiden-esque gallop more than the rawer punk and hardcore roots from which much of Maryland doom sprang initially and still springs, the swinging progression of “Wasting Away” notwithstanding. Decisively metal, in other words. There is little doubt left as to intent in that regard, and in its craftsmanship, bleak cohesion and anti-Christian storytelling, the album answers the call of its own mission with a passionate delivery and complete-band sound.

That last element — the fact that The Heresiarch sounds like a work by a complete band — makes one wonder what the future for Nupraptor might hold, and if St. Ours could possibly put together a trio or, maybe more likely a four-piece given some of the interweaving guitar antics and harmonies here in “Before the Eyes of God,” etc., down the line. Whether or not that happens, he’s given himself a potent aesthetic model from which to work, and one that will preach loudly and righteously to a vigilant sect of the doom converted. If there aren’t vest patches printed yet, there should be. The Heresiarch speaks to a time in which heavy metal itself was the cult to be joined, and in its style and substance, it succeeds in establishing this context for St. Ours and Nupraptor to nonetheless move forward in bringing new life to this storied past.

Nupraptor on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Kingdom Records website

Shadow Kingdom Records on Thee Facebooks

The Heresiarch at Shadow Kingdom Records Bandcamp

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One Response to “Review & Track Premiere: Nupraptor, The Heresiarch

  1. Matt says:

    Does anyone else get a little misty eyed for the PS1 classic Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain when they see the name of this band? Definitely fits the doom aesthetic!

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