Release DetailsLABEL Season of Mist
RELEASED ON 1/25/2005
Order of the Ebon Hand
XV: The Devil
posted on 2/2005 By:
Featuring members of Septic Flesh, Naer Mataron, and Necromantia, Greece's Order of the Ebon Hand enter 2005 with a fresh release that struggles for shoulder room between already what's presumed to be some of the year's best records. And while I haven't heard a black metal album so far that's swept me off my feet, that doesn't necessarily mean XV: The Devil is going to be that record. On the other (Ebon) hand, it's also not something that deserved to be shunned or ignored.
It's atmospheric, steady, and slightly chilling black metal along the same lines as early Emperor. The album's opener, "For Marchosias", is barely kept from drowning in a sea of adequacy with their sinister and treble-laden guitarwork, partially due to the static expression of the drumming, which is formidable but so tedious. While the next track, "To Alloces", has a backing choir track and a superb guitar solo towards the last 3/4ths of that song that interrupts the band's unvarying attack, the dedication to remaining grim and constant will keep quiet those who'd be eager to accuse Order of the Ebon Hand of being untrue to the crafting of elite black metal. I'm enjoying a lot of the subtle engineering, particularly on "The Visitors", where the production talents lend their vocalist an unneeded hand in being increasingly demented. Sounds great, although the vocals on their own are already adept and come across like they're handled from a seasoned veteran. So while the better part of the album shows intensity and fastidiousness, the track "Eibon" is an slow instrumental using a generated beat and various screams. The guitar riff suggests that it's building towards something great, but never really goes anywhere and ends up sounding sort of like one of those "spooky" records you play on Halloween. I'm being a little harsh when I say that, but the song feels like filler. I'm also a little displeased at the presence of so many "darkwave" hintings. So songs like "Spellbound" strike me as somewhat half-baked in their intonation.
It should be noted that I spent nearly an hour on the Internet trying to find out whether or not these guys stole their name from a Magic: The Gathering card. As far as I can tell, they most certainly did. And that, my friends, is really, really, lame.
To their credence, what you'll find on the album is predominantly above average and will appease those in dire need of a dose of abrasion and dark ambience. They do everything well on XV: The Devil. So while though there are a few drawbacks and questionable parts, it's more than a stone's throw away from being bad.
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