These guys seem to have made quite a splash with last year’s “Diadem Of 12 Stars” and with VELVET CACOON out of the equation these guys with the equally baffling band name are surely the States’ best hopes as far as mother nature-inspired, not to mention obsessed, Black Metal is concerned. I missed out on their abovementioned debut, and I actually didn’t even know that they had another album in the can, so this album came as a pleasant surprise to me – the kind of surprise that grabs you by the balls while at the same time stroking your soul. Does that make any sense? Uhm, well listen to the album and you’ll understand…
I’ll be the first to admit that I prefer the more to-the-point stripped-down school of Black Metal, but every now and then a band like this can come around and, well, grab my balls and stroke my soul! This is the kind of album you can drown yourself in – it is relatively simple stuff at its core but the repetitiveness is offset by layers of quite beautiful melodies, subtle tempo changes and an overall atmosphere of majesty. And sorrow. Basically WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM take the atmosphere of early IN THE WOODS, the grimness of BURZUM, and add a little bit of that USBM mystique to create something that is both soothing and unsettling at the same time. The intro (consisting of nothing more than lush yet fuzzy keyboards and nature sounds) perfectly sets the stage for the centre point of the album – “Behold The Vastness And Sorrow”. Never before has a title so perfectly described both an album and a song. It is a gargantuan Black Metal epic that should cement this band’s place in the pantheon of BM. It starts off slow and subdued before soon ratcheting up the speed and grimness with a full-on double-bass and snarled vocal assault before slowing down yet again, with some cold Nordic melodies kicking it at 8:58; this goes on for about 2 minutes before one of the most soul-tearing melody sections in BM history appears at 11:15, which carries it through until the end. Really, this is just amazing stuff that captures a raw, unpretentious aura of beauty, bravery and loss all at once and this track alone is worth the price of the CD (and your soul). “Clearing” is more of a straightforward track that features the odd female vocal, while “I Will Lay Down By Bones Among The Rocks And Roots”, another epic number that tries hard to top “Behold The…” but doesn’t quite make it. It’s a fair bit slower and carries a mournful Doom vibe all the way through but it lacks some of the counterpoint of the abovementioned track. I suppose you can find this kind of thing on MOONSORROW’s latest release.
So, with my mind blown, my balls crushed, my soul stricken and my heart filled with sorrow (the “good” kind…) I declare this album an essential listen for all those who crave ethereal majestic and sorrowful Black Metal. “Two Hunters” gets two thumbs up and I can’t see anyone being worse off after having sat through this piece of blackened art.
(Online October 23, 2007)