Embers and Revelations
posted on 10/2012 By:
Embers and Revelations opens on a deep, subterranean drone, an ominous calm that gradually twists and shimmers through various introductory motifs and teasing riff-fragments. Weapon’s founder, guitarist, and mouthpiece Vetis Monarch sounds positively gleeful as he proclaims the opening ceremonial rites. By the time you’ve managed to process all of this, though, you’re already halfway through the song, ensnared by the hammering drums, and no longer capable of protesting the fierce sway that this endlessly compelling album will exult in exercising over you.
If there is likely to be any objection to this harrowingly taut display of sneakily melodic black?-death?-fuck-let’s-just-call-it-metal metal, it’s that in comparison to Weapon’s two preceding albums, Embers and Revelations is immaculately polished. Whether this is a result of jumping from truly underground labels such as Ajna to a more major indie player such as Relapse or whether the band intended to move in this direction regardless of label backing is largely immaterial, but the shiny, super-clean production is undeniable. While some are likely to hear that as a distinct weakening in the atmosphere department, the album’s squeaky-clean production works for this particular listener because one can interpret it as a spiked, bloody gauntlet thrown at the feet of the seemingly boundless hordes of murkily evil malcontents churning around in the underground: “Would you still sound this kickass if we cleaned you up?”
Whatever Weapon’s intentions may have been, the effect is unavoidable: The cleanliness of the production means that if Monarch and company couldn’t bring the riffs and songwriting chops, there’d be no merciful murk to fall back on; with a production like this, there’s nowhere to hide. Thankfully, the eight songs of Embers and Revelations are among the tightest and most viciously economical the band has written. The insanely fluid delivery of these tightly-coiled riffs coupled with the streamlined length of the album amounts to an experience that, much like Mgla’s With Hearts Toward None, plays as a seamless whole, each song and section composed with an ear to how it communicates with and lays the ground for the remainder of the album.
One of the most jaw-dropping moments comes early in the album, with the ascending chord sequence over impeccably blasting drums during the chorus of “Vanguard of the Morning Star.” It’s a total latter-day Rotting Christ move, but it’s supremely effective in the way it first matches the verse tempo, and then seamlessly transitions to a false half-tempo when the vocals kick in. In fact, given the way that the clean production puts even more of a spotlight on the band’s uncanny sense of melody (both the emotional resonance of the individual melodies, and the intuitive understanding of precisely when to deploy them), Weapon now clearly has just as much in common with Absu, Rotting Christ, and Melechesh as with fellow luminaries of the beguilingly stupendous death / black underground like Mitochondrion or Teitanblood. “Liber Lilith” is another highlight, recentering the listener with a relatively sedate opening before again ratcheting up the tension ridiculously and then finally venting it in part at 2:44, when, after feinting like the whole band is going to pull back, not-so-secret-weapon The Disciple doubles the intensity with ludicrous double bass drum choppering while the guitarists wail in full freak-out trade-off leads that eventually, and quite stunningly, resolve back into the principal rhythm riff. No big deal, right?
The whole album’s like that, really: individual moments of electrifying solos and absurdly destructive riffs nestled by master tacticians into unassailably stout song structures and an immediately satisfying narrative arc. (Oh, and while we’re on the subject of individual moments: Check out the triplet-blasting that accompanies the opening riff of the title track. Good-fucking-night.) The album’s final crowd-manipulating riffs are joined by an understated keyboard and some wonderfully searching lead guitar, which pulls a note, and holds it, and holds it, ‘til it fails. Canada has a long, proud history of fantastically abusive extreme metal, and if Weapon’s place in that pantheon had not yet been secured, Embers and Revelations places the keystone. Whether via rusted axe or glittering silver blade, the death-blow falls the same; what’s more, Weapon will have you thanking them for it.
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