The Ruins of Beverast
Unlock The Shrine
posted on 4/2006 By:
I knew I wanted to check out this release the second I saw Battle Kommand Records was at the helm. Not only did B.K. release recent splits from Xasthur/Leviathan and Sapthuran/Leviathan, but label founder and lead demon, Azentrius, fronts black metalling mischievers Nachtmystium, and is also a part of U.S. black metal über-group Twilight. Enough said? Well hold on to your halberds minions, there’s more information that may further stoke the fires of your smoldering souls - Ruins of Beverast is basically the brainchild of Alexander von Meilenwald, one time drummer of the now defunct German black metal act, Nagelfar (not to be confused with Sweden’s Naglfar…the 'e' creates an entirely different beast). For fans of the genre that don't already know, Nagelfar was responsible for releasing a number of fine black metal releases before constant line-up changes eventually lead to their demise, but not before releasing the excellent Virus West in 2001.
Unlock The Shrine features nearly 70 minutes of some of the most bone-bendingly fucked up black metal I’ve heard so far this year. Not only does this one-man project push the black metal envelope, he finds out where the envelope lives, follows it home, and torments it until it grievously hangs itself in the bathroom. This is the type of album that could swoop down on your sunny afternoon picnic and turn it into an apocalyptic hallucination featuring schizophrenic mumblings, weeping choirs, frenzied crowds, and burning, toppled buildings. And as tempting as that may sound to some of our more ‘touched’ readers out there, this album is certainly not for everyone. Unlock The Shrine is devoid of any of the grandiose production found on much of the mainstream black metal today…and it works perfectly. This is raw, trance-inducing black metal made for those who are interested in artists that incorporate new, interesting ideas, yet remain true to the genre’s original feel.
The sheer length of this work will keep me from dissecting individual tracks with a scalpel, so I’ll point out some of the key elements that have kept my quivering hand reaching for this record time and time-again. First of all, one can immediately tell this is a project fronted by a skin-flailer, as the drumming takes center stage compared to the guitars, bass and echoed, rasped vocals. Meilenwald is also not afraid to throw in the occasional gothic guitar lick to further add to the general despondent feel of the work (i.e. 6:30 into the first track). The songs are rather long, averaging between 8-10 minutes each, and all are followed by shorter, ‘mood enhancing’ interludes. Some may see the interludes as too much filler, but it’s my opinion they add very nicely to the oppressive, dark sense emitted by the actual songs. For example, the second interlude, “Skeleton Coast”, has a very creepy, ambient feel with disjointed drumming and a locust-rasped-devil-voice that certainly does a fine job of pushing a thorn into the listeners brain before ripping into the bedlamic 3rd track, “Euphoria When The Bombs Fell”- a tune that dips from a fleeing, frenzied pace, to a slower, near crawl, all the while sampling a spirited speech with cheering crowd to add to the bombastic nature of the track. Interlude 6, “Procession of Pawns”, sets the listener up perfectly for the insane “Summer Decapitation Ritual” – a song that starts out with a furious tempo, but slows down after 3 minutes to a plodding, marching gait featuring horns that immediately bring to mind Thulsa Doom’s snake cult. Track 10, “Subterranean Homicide Lamentation”, has a colossal ‘giant stomping through a city’ rhythm that sets the foundation for the album’s 12-minute closer, “The Mine”. The first 4 minutes of this epic track build on the repetitive, trance-inducing structure I spoke of earlier, and eventually returns to the mid-paced black metal attack found on the majority of the record. At the 8-minute mark the song breaks down into a nice solid groove just before unveiling the strangest vocal arrangement thus far- a chorus delivered by what sounds like the tenor section of Dr. Seuss’ Whoville. “The Mine” chorus repeats in a sing-songy fashion until the album eventually degrades into the final interlude of gun fire, a beeping alarm, and the screams of a man obviously tormented.
Battle Kommand strikes again with this genre bending, apocalyptic release from Ruins of Beverast. Again, it’s certainly not meant for everyone's ears, but if you’re a fan of black metal that’s both meditative and truly inventive, I’d certainly recommend checking out Unlock The Shrine. This album may stand as one of the years' most unsettling black metal releases.
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