Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Ruins of Beverast

The Ruins of Beverast - Unlock the Shrine
Van Records, 2004
Genre: Black Metal

1. Between Bronze Walls
2. Skeleton Coast
3. Euphoria When the Bombs Fall
4. God Sent No Sign
5. The Clockhand's Groaning Circles
6. Procession of Pawns
7. Summer Decapitation Ritual
8. Cellartunes
9. Unlock the Shrine
10. Subterranean Homicide Lamentation
11. The Mine
12. White Abyss

This is one of the more refreshing albums I’ve heard in recent years.  It draws on a lot of varying areas of Black Metal, but The Ruins of Beverast maintain this original quality to their presentation that really can’t be found anywhere else.  The main reason I picked this up was because I had heard members of Nagelfar were in this band.  However, it appears only the drummer from Nagelfar is in The Ruins of Beverast and he appears to play everything. Hhowever, the bands do bear some other similarities and that can easily be found in the epic track length.  Nagelfar was pretty well known for writing songs that were extremely long in terms of Black Metal, often times exceeding ten minutes!

“Unlock the Shrine” has an interesting meditative feel to a lot of the tracks.  Each epic song appears to be broken up between instrumental tracks.  One of the aspects I enjoyed most of all about The Ruins of Beverast was the mesmerizing atmosphere that each track evokes.  There are very few lyrics on this album, however, when you realize that the songs with lyrics are typically between eight and ten minutes then that makes for a lot of music.  “Between Bronze Walls” starts off with a wonderful intro that had a movie sample (I would love to know what movie) and then flows into this eerie guitar sequence that’s both meditative and focal at the same time.  You don’t hear vocals until after four minutes in, which are in a similar vein to Heresi and other bands of that ilk, when the real song starts to show through.  The riff sequences under the vocals are usually mesmerizing and have a similar quality to that of Ensdtille’s guitar lines, such as their tracks called “Monotonus,” if you will.  However, the main part that sets them apart is the lead sections; they give the songs a wholly different feel.  The twin guitar play is what really sets The Ruins of Beverast into a different realm because the lead sections are not what you would expect on this release in my opinion.

The interlude tracks, that are usually a much shorter length, break up the full length songs.  They add a rather interesting feel to the listen.  Rather than make them part of the song they sit separately which was probably a smart move.  I can see some people complaining about the “ambience” in between tracks as if it was a detrimental process to bear whilst waiting for the next song to kick in with a Black Metal assault.  This way people that dislike this feature of the album can simply skip over them at their hearts desire so it’s win/win in the end.  I can see that there are enough people out there who would prefer to skip the ambient fillers and just move right into the metal.  I, however, am not one of those people.  I enjoy my ambience and I think it adds a certain atmosphere to an album.  This is also why I am not against intro or outro tracks because I think they set the mood for an album most of the time.  If the album doesn’t help fill that mood then I feel things are out of sync and I think this shows artists’ ability to set a mood and follow up with it throughout the album rather than arbitrarily throwing material together.  I think they should be related in the same concept and I believe that is the intention for using them in the first place!  They should tie music together not tear it apart.  Some of these ambient tracks are truly in the vein of the Ambient genre such as “Skeleton Coast” which, you could say, has some influence bearing from the likes of Atrium Carceri or Raison D’etre.  Then there is the filler track “God Sent No Sign” which is supremely eerie and by far the best on the album.  It just sets this amazing mood with the clean guitar mixed with octave chords on the second guitar and segues into “The Clockhand’s Groaning Circles” perfectly, which is by far the most majestic and best track on “Unlock the Shrine.”

There is but on complaint I have about this album and it doesn’t come until the end of “The Mine.”  The song progresses masterfully until the end and as the track closes he felt compelled to close the track with a clean vocal sequence.  Now, I might not have minded this approach if it was only for a couple verses, however, it is a repeated sequence that continues until the song itself fades out; however, this takes something akin to two minutes so it has time to set in that you don’t enjoy it very much.  The verse is repeated an audible thirteen times, which is a bit tedious to me.  Usually this wouldn’t irk me so, but it’s the clean vocals that really killed the feel.  If these were harsh vocals I imagine I would’ve found the outro of the track wonderfully harsh, but that is not the case here.  This is the one and only gripe I have with the album and it certainly doesn’t ruin the overall listen for me, but it did kind of close this particular song on a poor note.

Lyrically there is not a whole lot for me to talk about.  They’re decently interesting, but they deal with the common topic of death and war.  However, one thing I did like was that nothing was mentioned about suicide, which sometimes accompanies the lyrics about death.  Rather this was an introspective look from the artist that he would surely eventually die.  Also, in some songs it touches upon the fact that according to most religions of the world, people like this artist, myself, and basically the entirety of people that listen to Black Metal are going to Hell.  Each person has a different kind of “Hell” and I hardly think the people that promote the common religions are ones to judge.  It is no secret that my form of Hell would be to serve on my knees to a ridiculous deity named Jesus Christ.  Other people would call this Heaven, these are all relative concepts, and all are different depending on the person.  This is a good album in the sense that it makes you sit and think about such things, so while the lyrics at times have a cliché feel, they do make you think about the subject in a cognizant way, whereas other bands singing about a similar subject musically don’t provoke the same kinds of philosophical thought that The Ruins of Beverast do.

All in all this is a superb release.  I highly recommend it to any fan of Black Metal, I think anyone would find something to enjoy on this album, it’s fairly diverse in that sense.  However, those who love a meditative feel to their Black Metal, say something like Hate Forest, would surely love and appreciate this in its full entirety, though the songs have quite a different feel compared to Hate Forest.  There are parts where the riffs have a similar feel it’s just not as repetitive as on a Hate Forest album.  Again, I can’t emphasize this enough, this is a fairly original release and I think you will see that even the harshest of critics enjoy and find this as something worth hearing.

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