Halberd - Remnants of Crumbling Empires - (9/10)
Published on July 16, 2014
Genre:Doom / Death
Formed in 2012 by several forum regulars at the Encyclopedia Metallum, Halberd is a band that spans countries and continents. Featuring members currently located in Canada, Colombia and England, Halberd has united across the big pond and the Panama Canal to bring an unearthly and haunting slab of doom/death. The band’s debut album, Remnants of Crumbling Empires, is a rather harrowing and daunting journey, but the rewards are immense and satisfying.
Remnants of Crumbling Empires is a beast of many heads, taking cues from the epic and atmospheric and conjoining it with crushing heaviness and pristine songwriting. With a playtime of slightly over forty minutes the album weaves through four trucks of trudging doom with epic keys and spatterings of tasteful lead guitar. Lumbering over the ceremony are a solid mix of deep bellowing growls and rasped screams, which bring to life the captivating war history lyrics. Despite the drums being programmed, never once did I think they sounded overly mechanical or out of place.
This dirge-laden style of music is intense and draining, so its interesting how the band fit airy keyboards and solid guitar solos throughout. It’s almost as if the weight of the downtrodden riffing and cavernous atmosphere became too much to bear. The haunting keys float towards the sky like tendrils of smoke rising from the smoldering ruins; a warning to those at a distance. Yet, despite the torn battlefield, there is still a sense of grandiose amazement, perhaps because the world is still spinning or because we’re still breathing after such loss. Although the slow paced trudging takes prominence, the band does kick into faster paces, like during “Dead Horses Cavalry”, which borders on blasting death metal. Touches of the rangy riffing of Tom G. Warrior’s beloved Celtic Frost mix in, giving a primal feel to certain segments, like on “Northern Bloodletting”, the album’s opener.
It took me quite a few listens to fully wrap my head around Halberd’s debut album. There’s a lot going on and each subsequent listen has given me further insight into the hauntingly crushing atmospheres. Serene guitar solos float in and leave without a trace; atmospheric keys build a sense of epic urgency before giving way to cavernous rumblings; crushing riffs meld into short trem bursts. I could go on and on and on and on about the intricacies and interplay and I still really wouldn’t be doing this album justice. This is crushing and haunting doom/death with tons of atmosphere and superb songwriting.
Remnants of Crumbling Empires is available on the band ‘s Bandcamp page for a measly $4.00. They’re still shopping around for labels, so give them the support the deserve. Great work guys.