Review: Blutvial - Curses Thorns Blood (2011)

 Genre: raw black metal
 Label: Haintic
 Country: United Kingdom

This release has slipped under my radar up until recently, which is a shame because it would have carved out a spot on my top 20 album list of 2011 with unrelenting force. I was aware of Blutvial's previous effort, I Speak of the Devil, and I thought it was a solid release. However, as it didn't stand out as a real masterpiece and the year was already coming to a close quickly when Curses Thorns Blood was released I didn't bother checking it until raving reviews started popping up here and there. A shame, really...

Spawned from the mind of Aort (of the indomitable <code> and the Haintic label), Ewchmylaen (Reign of Erebus) and drummer Zemogh (drummer/producer/technician of various great releases), Blutvial has no time to waste and unleashes a torrent of biting black metal upon the world in the form of album opener At The Stones We Gather. This song works well, is awash with blast beats and furious riffing. An entire album in this style would have been more than good. However, after commanding your attention so fiercely, Blutvial uses the opportunity to take the listener to a plethora of different places while the venom undeniably remains...

Whether they go for an uptempo scathing attack with a strangely hypnotic latter half like Blackthorn Winter, the punkish evil of The Immutable Hammer or a drawn out epic song with doom like passages and eerie melodies like A Light in the Forest, every song is a thrill. Each riff, bass line and drum beat works; they are all interesting while at the same time they never do any more work than necessary. The songs need no instruments showing off but only the biting vocals of Ewchmylaen to top it all off and drive the point home. Production is also solid, and lets the music breathe and hit you where it hurts.

In short, this record is raw and pure evil and seems to be really uncomplicated. But where a lot of black metal releases that adopt this style fail in truly being a masterpiece (lacking some sort of deeper quality), Curses Thorns Blood doesn't. Under the banner of Blutvial a team of seasoned musicians has gathered who understand their craft perfectly and they manage to condense all the darkness they can invoke into a gem of a record.

A must listen for all fans of raw black metal (Craft, Merrimack, Marduk), and fans of more experimental black metal should be able to whet their appetite with this as well. Support these guys and buy their stuff!


Review: Wovenhand - The Threshingfloor (2010)

 Genre: folk, alt-country
 Label: Glitterhouse
 Country: United States

Really impressive stuff! Folk/country, but much darker and broader in musical scope than you would expect. I've seen the moniker gothic americana being applied, and that seems appropriate. The songs shift between punishing dark tribal stompers and more mellow drawn out songs. Also, they are masterfully crafted, produced very well and (at least for me) refreshingly original.

It's very hypnotic and evocative, and fiercely commands attention. This is not that surprising; Wovenhand's creative mastermind is deeply religious, and his grandfathers were a Church of the Nazarene preacher and Native American wanderer respectively. Both influences shine trough musically and lyrically. The pain of holding yourself up to the perfect light of God and being found wanting is sometimes present in his music, as is a kind of desert feel and an almost Zen-like serenity.

All in all a work that really deserves your time and, dare I say it, worship.


Album top 20 of the year 2011

After long deliberation, I found these 20 albums to be the best of 2011:

01 Ulcerate - The Destroyers of All (unorthodox death metal)

02 Doomtree - No Kings (hiphop)

03 Peste Noire - L'Ordure à l'état Pur (black metal/experimental)

04 Fuck the Facts - Die Miserable (grindcore/death metal)

05 Virus - The Agent That Shapes The Desert (avant-garde/rock/metal)

06 Wolves Like Us - Late Love (post-hardcore, YouTube)
07 Tombs - Path Of Totality (sludge/post-metal, YouTube)
08 Septicflesh - The Great Mass (symphonic death metal, YouTube)
09 Hexvessel - Dawnbearer (psych/folk, YouTube)
10 All Pigs Must Die - God Is War (hardcore/grindcore/crust, YouTube)

11 Bloodiest - Descent (psych/doom/experimental, YouTube)
12 Ulver - War Of The Roses (experimental/avant-garde/rock, YouTube)
13 KEN mode - Venerable (noise/sludge/hardcore, YouTube)
14 White Hills - H-p1 (space/psych, YouTube)
15 Terra Tenebrosa - The Tunnels (post-metal/drone/experimental, YouTube)
16 Primordial - Redemption At The Puritan's Hand (pagan metal/folk metal, YouTube)
17 Rotten Sound - Cursed (grindcore, YouTube)
18 Trap Them - Darker Handcraft (hardcore/grindcore/crust, YouTube)
19 Cave In - White Silence (experimental/hardcore/metal, YouTube)
20 SubRosa - No Help For The Mighty Ones (doom/sludge, YouTube)

All in all I think 2011 was a great year for music! Let's hope 2012 will be just as good or even better!