Where the Snows are Never Gone (Reissue)
posted on 3/2011 By:
There's plenty room in my life for black metal that branches into all sorts of progressive styles, but by hell, I love kicking through the rude, crude face-on-fire variety when I'm in an ugly mood: the sort of savage material that maintains the tainted, cold side of mankind, stripped to raw bone. Lots of folks naturally turn to our Nordic friends when looking to satisfy a taste for such raw, arctic metal, but truthfully, it's tough to beat Mother Russia when it comes to bitter, black spew perfectly suited for freezing to death on a forgotten hillside with hoarfrost decorating your glaciated head.
Hailing from the extreme Northwest of Russia, where Winter punches the piss out of your face for nearly nine months out of every year, Old Wainds have spent a decade-and-a-half cranking out some of the frozenest 'scapes ever to grace the black metal world. The focus has always been centered on primitive severity, but despite the band's clattering, coarse approach, all their works have shown a clever knack at sculpting surprisingly engaging tunes, even during the more "elementary" years.
Where the Snows are Never Gone…, Wainds' second full-length demo, has culled enough interest in the underground over the years that this actually marks the fourth time it's seen a reissue since it first dropped in 1997. To the uninitiated, or perhaps to those only familiar with the band's cleaner, thrashier recent output, the record will likely sound as if you just stumbled in on a grim garage rehearsal of high schoolers splattered with b&w facepaint hammering through 38-minutes of trashcan black metal. And that's a beautiful thing, as far as I'm concerned. I have no clue how old the chaps were back when this was first released, but it's that youthful intensity and recklessness that seeps from the pores of a release such as this that helps magnify the callowness and makes for one hell of a potent delivery. Izbor (of the equally sturdy Nav') thunders through every cut on a kit that sounds like it could've been pieced together with buckets and a rickety metal folding chair for a snare, but he fucking attacks it from open to close (save for the relatively relaxed respite of the album's 8-minute closer). Equally angry are the hissing guitars that flurry about the speakers like livid flies around rotting eyes. And Kull's burning vocal delivery is so furnace-hot, I'd venture a guess that the guy sits down to a plateful of lit matches when lunchtime rolls around.
So, yes, this is obviously a release meant solely for those interested in ugly, unrefined black metal; that's the bottom line here. And because it hails the old, grim ways so resolutely, the resulting score is relatively low, but strangely…fitting. And perhaps even necessary, considering the scheme of black metal of this ilk. Those seeking Viking pan-pipes, atmospheric space drifts, or fireside bongo-banging by crews sporting hemp pullovers best look elsewhere. Where the Snows are Never Gone… is for the true beasts of the blizzard out there.
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