Wraith Productions, 2007
Genre: Black Metal
1. Sword of Vlendios
2. Gorthol the Damned
3. Wolfish Sons of the Moon
4. The Calling of Disguise
7. A Cry in the Forest
8. Desecrations of the Old Dinasty
9. Battle Orcs on the Ancient Moor
10. Army of Ancient Blasphemies
11. Revelation (Prophet of Doom)
12. Oda a la Muerte Negra
Now, I normally don’t look around Spain for my music, especially Black Metal. I really don’t know how much of a scene they have out there, but from what some of the other bands I've heard from there, I wouldn't say they are a force in Black Metal. Other than Primigenium, I wasn't hopeful to find any other very good Spanish Black Metal bands, that is, until I heard Hrizg. Now I should disclose here that the guy who runs Wraith Productions and I are friends and after much prodding from him I finally decided to download a sample of Hrizg. Now before you think I have some outlandish ulterior motive here, I buy what I want, and just because we are friends does not mean I will buy everything on his label and like it. For example, I greatly disliked what I heard from Hills of Sephiroth, so you will likely not see me review them unless someone requests and lets me borrow the album. However, Hrizg I liked enough to buy, plus I also think it’s the best band he’s signed thus far.
The best way I can sum up Hrizg is that it seems to blend Norwegian and French Black Metal together and have the mesmerizing affect found in some Ukrainian Black Metal, at least this is what I find with the first four tracks before the changeover. Despite all the copy-cat groups out there, Hrizg has a slightly different feel than other bands, probably because they blend the atmosphere from a few regions rather than trying to just emulate a single one. There are also some folk elements thrown in for good measure during songs like “Sorrow,” which is really just a brilliant instrumental that you could probably compare more to Uruk-Hai (the Austrian one). Which I will also compare the later ambient track “Battle Orcs on the Ancient Moor” to Uruk-Hai as well. I would also compare it a bit to the Conan soundtrack by Basil Poledouris, who is a brilliant composer! Though, I could never say this tops the Conan soundtrack.
I think “Isengard” could've been developed a little bit more because it has a build up affect then just drops off into a four count on the hi-hats. This also seems to be where the album splits a little bit in feel. While this wasn't a bad thing, I just felt disappointed that the build up was so anti-climatic. The track it goes into “A Cry in the Forest” has a much more traditional feel to it when compared to the first four songs, and gives me a distinct feel that it is something you can find on any run of the mill German Black Metal album, such as later Isegrim or Aeba. The drums on tracks seven and eight are done by another musician so they stand out quite a bit (he really is a pretty killer drummer), the use of double bass is much more prevalent. I think the music benefits with the use of more double bass, but I typically always think this for some reason. Plus the difference in drumming technique holds the tracks out more and despite the fact the songwriting seems to have shifted, they stand out with the other first section. However, after he leaves the scene it goes downhill a little and you could compare the work to more mundane bands. While some may think the traditional feel is a grand shift, I've heard far too many bands of that ilk to be wowed by it in 2007. The one thing separates it from other bands are the vocals...
The one thing that might turn people off to this band is the vocal work. I must admit that my initial reaction to it was that I did not enjoy it. I don't know if that’s because it was a fairly low quality mp3 or what, but when I got the album it wasn't such a harsh difference as I thought it would be. Other people may have a different reaction to this than I did. I would best describe these as somewhat of a spoken word style vocals, but with a rather “grim” tone if you will. However, I will say that this is certainly not my first style of vocal choice, for a whole album at least. The reverb on the vocals certainly helps a lot. I tend to prefer the higher ranged vocalist in Black Metal, the real powerful screamers like Iblis from Endstille, for example. Either way, I didn't feel the vocals actually detracted from the music, but as a whole they didn't really add anything either. They added in certain sections, but on the overall it was pretty dry for me.
Lyrically from what I can tell it draws from fantasy based subjects and ancient folklore, possibly of the region or possibly from Middle-Earth. It is clear Hrizg is quite influenced by the realm of Tolkien, thus track names like “Isengard,” hell he even recorded in Khazad-dûm studios (most likely his own). Only the lyrics to two tracks were released though, but I am not disappointed by this because I don’t think the topics were immensely deep, but they were good for what they are. One thing in the booklet cracked me up though, and I simply must quote it. “A very big fuck off to all worms who try to destroy the true essence of the darkest underground writing lies in stupid forums. I only support your death fools! This is only a proof that you can’t create anything with your own fucking bands.” Why did I find this funny? Well mostly because I can’t think of a more un-Black Metal activity than chatting it up on forums with your e-friends thrashing keyboard warriors left and right. Yes, I am guilty of the forum thing as well, but it’s all a silly past time for when you are bored. To take it so seriously, that you believe the trash that is written on forums, means you must have the intellect of a ten year old. I think forums are one of the worst inventions since the dawn of the internet. Yes the internet is a great place with a lot of information and allows people from all over the world to contact each other, but if you’re worried about your bands prestige status amongst all the silly thirteen year old boys and girls means that you really have to unplug from the internet. Black Metal and the internet don’t mesh in my philosophy, since plugging into the global tedium seems to be something that Black Metal always sought to separate itself from. Not that this would stop any pathetic rumors from generating if there were no forums, but still, one must understand that people will believe anything nowadays.
In the end I do recommend this group. I think the first four tracks are the real stand out material for Hrizg and after that they tend to dry up a little bit in terms of composition, but I really do love the atmosphere in those first sequences. I recommend you download a sample of this band before you are committed to buying it based on what is written here, because I really think the vocals are a take it or leave it experience for most people. I’m mostly indifferent towards them and the music is what drew me in more, but they are a fairly unique approach, not many bands would choose to use that style for an entire album. I still say this would sound better with a real screamer behind it, something like Horna or Behexen maybe. Hrizg is certainly a band to watch for future releases, since I haven’t found too many good bands in Spain in my years. This is nothing against Spain as a country, I just never latched onto their brand of Black Metal very much, Hrizg proves that they are still alive and kicking and hopefully Hrizg can help gain the region some more notice in times when most people are looking at Eastern European Black Metal quite closely. Spain’s day might be due though, so watch out!