on 2 June 2013
Thank you Southern Lord for re-releasing this outstanding debut.The familiar trademarks of W.I.T.T.R are present: the formula of 4 very long songs comprising the album; atmospheric tone invoked via blasts, tremolo, howling vocals and guest female vocals as a counter-balance. The profound difference here is the range of stylistics. For a start, vocalist Nathan Weaver's black metal scream is augmented by the occasional death metal growl; being a bit of a black metal purist I would have refuted this idea on paper but it actually provides an interesting variation. Apparently streamlined on further releases, here the modulation works well. Likewise the music on this album is more adventurous than later albums(even 2011's Celestial Lineage- a damn fine record and hard to fault). It's very much the 'astral black metal' sound that I came to love but the riffs are stronger, chunkier and more raw sounding. There are even dips into thrash metal territory here and there. Female vocals are provided by Jamie Myers-and very impressive they are too: honest, earthy and situated on the right side of the cool/corny divide.
The very best thing about black metal in my opinion is the ability to transport me, via sonic power and ambiance, to a craggy tree-lined mountainous summit, whereupon I will thrust my clawed hands skyward and throw back my head...this album has this quality in spades.