When I add labels to the Metal Labels On Bandcamp page I usually scan their releases looking for anything interesting I might have missed. The reviews on The Metal Archives are a great help when doing this: a couple of great reviews means an album I should probably check out. With this series I'd like to share some of my finds, accompanied by a paragraph from the review that made my ears stand up and take notice.
Heavy and low-tuned guitars do most of the instrumental work. From a deep plodding movement, to chaotic and half panic ridden galloping, to quiet steps of ambience. They yield no high and serene notes. Neither any comfort. They range from the tortured to the depressed, to the intense fury of agony which follows. Although the guitars might dirge their way in some sections, the drums ensure that the heavy pounding keep mushing. One section of the album is drenched in an industrial cloud of darkness. Besides the rusty noises and sounds of iron banging there is no new instruments in that section. It is just all horribly distorted. An image that comes to mind is trudging across a big, misty and dark, yet bleak swamp. Here and there a pair of yellow eyes would stare up on you from it. Yet this mental image is merely an emotion deep rooted in a maddened mind and it's ruined soul. What damage filthy love does.... (read Insignium's full review here).
|Artwork by Dana Volynets|
Now while all the staples of one man bands are present (Burzum influence, jack-of-all-trades instrumentation, effect-laden vocals, etc) what sets this particular release apart from the rest of the flood is the overall presentation. Not exactly lo-fi but most certainly not crystal-clean production lends itself to clear presentation of all the instruments involved. The guitars have just the right amount of grit to their sound to give them the proper 'black metal sound' without sounding like the generic swarm-of-bees that plagues much of the genre. Sorrowful, yet strangely uplifting, riffs dominate the entire album backed up by simple, but effective, basslines that thankfully can be heard (why the bass continues to be the red-headed stepchild in black metal is beyond me...). The drums help augment what obviously is a guitar-driven album with the cymbal work deserving a special mention. Whether the drums are holding a steady beat or blasting away, the amount of crashing going on with the cymbals is relentless. Vocally, Wind employs a disgusted croak that comes across as more of a subdued rage than a pissed-off Popeye like Abbath from Immortal. (read TheFinalSleep's full review here).
Don't be fooled by the basement/bedroom production of this album, its walls of titillating fuzz are 100% hypnotic. Each riff leeches love and emotion from the listener. That is can have such an effect with a droning drum machine, and Rex's cookie crumbling throat salivating across its tones, is nothing short of miraculous. "No Stars Will Shine" opens the sadness with a series of original and amazing riffs that created an instant attraction, romantic and hissing and fuzzy and more somber than a truckload of gothic and funeral doom kids at a Tim Burton film. What's more...this storm of savage emotion does not end on this album, ever. Close your eyes and let the "The Quest of the Dark Lord" crawl across the black & white landscape of your grim subconscious...a shadowed figure reaching up to extinguish the sun and drag the stars down into its essence. "Black Paintings in the Sky" creates the perfect, driving seaside hymn, like plague victims lain across the black stones of a rocky pier beneath an overcast sky. "Oh Chants Make Hear My Splendor" is faster, Rex has not forgotten that he is a fucking blackheart. I could write another paragraph for each remaining song on this album, I enjoy it that much. (read autothrall's full review here).