Multi-tempo Black Metal with some killer Death riffing thrown in; long songs…
When I see that I am getting into a CD full of long songs, like 8+ minutes long, I look for one thing above all else: were the songs really 8+ minutes long or were they 3 minute songs drawn out needlessly INTO 8+ plus songs? Do the songs flow organically? Is there a running theme that actually calls for exploration over the course of an evening? Or is this simply the band’s way of pretending to be epic?
When I see I am getting into a Black Metal CD I look for one thing above all else: how to get out of it. The style can sometimes amaze me, but most often confounds and annoys me.
I am more or less pleased to report I enjoyed this record. The long song format certainly seems to be fairly organic, a natural progression of the band exploring whatever theme they are cracking at. The intensity and focus remain, whether they are blasting or lurching. Some of the slower riffs are damned tasty, and the change from fast chording to slow, groovy riffing can actually get you more involved instead of distracting you. Over the course of the album I often found myself smiling and getting that little flinch in my neck that happens when I hear a really good transition – throwback to the days when a good riff made my head bang with or without my consent. I have to say that at an average of 16 minutes the songs do have a tendency to wear out their welcome after a while, but it’s a minor point. It’s a little silly how a few moments of silence can matter so much between musical ideas, but the “Rest” is a part of the process of composition. If that’s all irrelevant to you go ahead and slap another star on songwriting.
Production is a mixed bag. The guitars are goddamned perfect for this style if you ask me. They are loud, meaty, up front and effectless. Sometimes bands like this seem to want to go for atmosphere over intensity, with shitloads of effects and a thin sound, but I prefer the raucous British Hardcore inspired style found here. Perhaps I am alone but I didn’t learn to love metal because the guitars were atmospheric. The drums are also completely effectless, and less successful for it, but only a little. It is very organic sounding, simply a mic’d kit. They seem a little weak in relation to the guitars, but I expect the sound is what the band was after. The bass, as is so often the case with this style, is nearly missing. The singer’s somewhat typically raspy delivery is well down in the mix, which I prefer in nearly all metal bands. The whole thing is caustic and guitar driven, which means I dig it. The musicianship is adequate to the tasks at hand, which is fine because this stuff really works better with guts than with polish.
The bottom line is this is a really cool Black Metal record for a guy like me who doesn’t say that phrase very fucking often. There are four 16 minute journeys into hate, punishment, speed and power that satisfy and even excite. It’s not magnificently innovative or deeply troubling. It won’t change your life, paradigm or even spending habits, but when it’s on and you are in the musical moment, it can slice, stamp and spit with the best of them. I say give it your attention.