This time I use my magical editorial skills and give you a glimpse from the future: three coming releases that I have been listening beforehand as promos. Great things on the horizon… Like this latest issue of Kaleidoscope, sweet sixteen it is, out now already… How about a mish-mash consisting of Danava’s heavy rock, Excalibur’s vintage heavy metal, Horna’s raw Finnish black metal, S’s avant-garde clarinet-oriented art experiments and White Medal’s heathen black metal? Yeah, everything is possible in Kaleidoscope! Buy it!
GEHENNA: Unravel (Indie Recordings 2013)
Gehenna is one of the black metal veterans who have managed to change their style successfully. From the synth-oriented and bombastic black metal of the mid-nineties to the more straight-forward, colder and aggressive punishment, Gehenna has delivered goods every time (okay, Murder was a bit so-so). That’s why it was disappointing to see how the veils of darkness (eh) and silence fell over the band after raging WW (2005), but now Dolgar and Sanrabb are here again to raise the flames.
If WW was like a vision of merciless and blasting war, now we are standing on the grave. The first track is like Neurosis playing black metal: slow, hard and grievous, with Sanrabb’s vocals more hollow than before. Unravel has still blastbeats and aggressive elements but even these are shown in a stale light. Someone could say that Unravel is a boring album but I say that it takes guts to make music like this: no compromises, just simple and primitive bludgeon but not falling into the pathetic “necro” try-hard scene. Actually the production is very plain, without any tricks played. Just the riffs, the songs, the atmosphere – it’s enough. The same careless attitude shows in song titles too, mainly in Nothing Deserves Worship.
What else to say? Unravel’s power is in its simplistic nature: simple riffs, simple drum beats, no any gimmicks (albeit the perfectly timed organ in End Ritual) – this band knows what they’re doing and they do it well.
THE RUINS OF BEVERAST: Blood Vaults – The Blazing Gospel of Heinrich Kramer (Ván Records 2013)
Is it exaggerating to say that The Ruins Of Beverast has created the style of its own? Monolithic, epic, church-like (you know what I mean) black metal that works well both in slow rumblings and fast attacks, riffs that don’t seem to get you anywhere but still they are building spirals and towers around you… During ten years of existence, Alexander von Meilenwald, the sole member of this band, has showed his talent, and Blood Vaults doesn’t leave you cold either. Mainly breathless.
Again, the songs are massive and long, and the charm lies in slow, repetitive parts that are closer to doom/death metal than black metal. If you spotted that My Dying Bride cover song on Enchanted on Gravemould compilation, you know what to expect. Drum patterns weave their own web, and riffs are floating everywhere hypnotically. Choirs, background voices and echoing vocals create an image of mass where every twisted truth is shouted loud. The Ruins Of Beverast also shines in one thing that I’m always craving for: the quiet parts are really quiet and tranquil but still they hide a seed of ugly things to come.
So Blood Vaults is an album of extremities, and all the parts play well together. It takes time and concentration to dive deep into the world of Meilenwald, but when you reach it, you don’t want to leave.
But was the creative process of Blood Vaults empowering or destructive for von Meilenwald?
TWILIGHT OF THE GODS: Fire on the Mountain (Season Of Mist Records 2013)
Let’s face it: everybody wants to play heavy metal in some point of their life. Now the time has come for members of Einherjer, Primordial, Aura Noir et cetera, so Twilight Of The Gods has risen. As many of you already know, this outfit started as a Bathory tribute band but now they are heading more to the shores of traditional heavy metal. Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Manowar… you know.
Luckily we are not talking about faceless and irrelevant heavy metal idiotism here. The songs on this debut album are enjoyable slow and heavy, although the almost mandatory faster beats burst out now and then. This is pure heavy metal feast: you can raise your hand and glass, pump the air and shout to the night – but still there is a darker and bitterer taste in your ale. Maybe it’s the recognizable voice of Alan Averill Nemtheanga that adds that more serious shade into everything – even while singing about metal phalluses and sons of hammer.
And that Bathory factor? Well, it lies there, in these epic and slow moments that are dragging themselves through the mountains and battles. Also honesty is what both Quorthon and the guys of Twilight Of The Gods share. It’s justified to argue if Twilight Of The Gods is playing too safe with these simple riffs and solutions, but so what – heavy metal is simple, it doesn’t need anything else than flames, spirit and attitude, and Fire on the Mountain can deliver those essential components very well.
The title track, kicks like a war drum: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmtBeUA8cTA