7.5 / 10
The band is the brainchild of a lone man who calls himself Soulreaper, who recorded the vocals, guitars, and bass with aid from drummer Ungod (you gotta love these black metal pseudonyms). As someone who concentrates first and foremost on vocals, I found Soulreaper sticks to the single singing style of a distant monotonous growl for most of the album, with the exception of “A Tearful Song,” where he goes between howling and shrieking. Soulreaper turns on the chorus setting on his keyboard for the bridge of “The Secrets of Time” for an operatic effect. Lyrics weren’t provided, but from what I can make out, they revolve around a theme of darkness and cosmic sadness (and thankfully, I didn’t pick up on any overtly nationalistic message).
Soulreaper’s true musicianship is demonstrated in his guitar playing and compositions. While most classic black metal guitars sound like a rusty chainsaw, Soulreaper channels his soul into his strings, crafting beautiful melodies. If George Harrison’s guitar gently weeps, then Soulreaper’s guitar wails with such tremendous sorrow, that it’ll inspire all who hear to weep uncontrollably. Instrumental tracks like “The Promise” and closer “Monument To The Ruined Age” take a break from the blast beats, incorporating an acoustic guitar accompanied by violins and cellos. The string sections dance in a bittersweet ballet, exchanging leads between the guitar and violins. Something also needs to be said about the bass, as it comes through clearly and isn’t muddled under layers of overdriven guitars. Especially in the closing track, the bass is surprisingly emotionally expressive, yet stays within a rhythm in order to hold the soloing guitars together.
For a genre that prides itself on low production, no expense was spared in the production of this album. Every instrument is heard perfectly, while still maintaining the cold atmosphere of a dark December night deep in the forests. Recommended for any black metal fan who is not afraid to cry.
Written by Chris Aitkens
*edited by Danielle Kenedy