Lake Of Blood
Heed The Primal Calling
posted on 8/2008 By:
Heed the Primal Calling does what a modern black metal band's inaugural EP should set out to do: display a solid level of tight musicianship and metal competency, and show evidence of harmonious flow between capable musicians. The dual guitar work is sturdy and surprisingly heavy at times, and there are moments where we get an inkling that these dudes have some deftly melodic fret-play up their sleeves: 1:25 into "The Darkest Path" and 1:10 into "Lake of Blood", for example. I'm also impressed with how voraciously the drummer attacks the skins during the EP's speedier parts; too much primal black metal today not only ignores the importance of having a drummer, but also having a good drummer. Lake of Blood has that particular base squarely covered. These points alone are enough for me to say this L.A. troupe is worthy of being in the game, but if the band expects to rip alongside the surplus of other U.S. based modern black metal bands, there are some issues that need to be addressed...
First of all, the bloated bio set my expectation levels WAY too high:
"Modern black metal with hints of death, thrash and doom. Comparable to the sounds of Drudkh, Emperor and Immortal, Lake of Blood’s black metal is so well-crafted, one could easily be convinced that the band is a seminal pioneer of the genre."
Wow. Why not blow the fuckin' doors off the barn and tell me the EP's delivered by Scarlett Johansson wearing nothing but an apron with a $1,000 bill pinned to it? I know your bio is supposed to catch the eye, but ease back on the gas a bit. I hear no doom whatsoever, and the death metal element is honestly pretty negligible. I'd call this a fairly epic black metal affair with a generous dose of thrash riffs thrown in the mix.
When Lake of Blood starts in on a nice warm, buzzy atmospheric black metal vibe, things are good -- the distinctly Wolves In the Throne Room start to the self titled track, for example -- but I'd like to hear them stretch their legs more and really air out those buzzy moments so I can fall into a cozy meditative state. Instead, the atmospherics are generally cut short with some relatively jarring thrash riffs. Don't get your chocolate in my peanut butter so fast, Lake of Blood, let me trip balls for a while before you punch me back into reality. And sometimes the riffs are a bit too "chuggy-chug heavy" for my tastes. I'd prefer to hear a dirtier Ares Kingdom style of thrash attack in my black metal, which is a band I think anyone who's interested in pursuing this particular style of the genre should study (along with Destroyer 666's Phoenix Rising).
Lastly, while I feel the raspy blackened vocals fit the style perfectly, I'd like to see a little more variance in the guy's delivery to add further depth, especially considering he doesn't have an instrument to fiddle around with. Throw down some whispering during that nice quiet passage at the 3-minute mark of "The Darkest Path", for example. Or toss in some pained howls in the backdrop from time-to-time.
My criticisms of Heed the Primal Calling might seem to outweigh what I consider to be its strong points, but I'd like to emphasize that I do think this EP shows promise. That's obviously incredibly important when you're competing against scads of other bands vying for metal fans' attention and cash. Lake of Blood definitely deserve to be in the game, but they need to address a few issues before I expect them to blow me away.
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