Having laboured in black metal obscurity for a decade, a devastating set at this year’s Roadburn set tongues a-wagging and now a new album on the much-respected Ván records should see the German heavyweights take their rightful place in the (black) sun.
If you think black metal is all about shrill screams and high end buzz guitars with no bass, prepare to be rudely disabused. Alexander van Meilanvald – the one-man-band black metal cliché at least rings true – weaves his metal magic from much darker threads. Thematically, this is classic black fare; Heinrich Kramer was the medieval inquisitor responsible for the infamous Malleus Malificarum (‘Hammer Of The Witches’) that set the scene for centuries of bloody torture and murder at the hands of the church.
Blood Vaults examines the sort of pathetic deluded mind and hatred of women that would create such a work. III: Malifca sums it up thus: ‘The female is bitterer than death.’ A dark story needs dark a dark setting, this tale of seven parts is as dark as a black cat in balaclava during a power cut. This gospel draws on a wide palette of blackness – from the bass-driven rumbling death of opener I: Aplogia that reeks of early Bolt Thrower to the miserable Dewsbury gothic doom of V: Spires, The Wailing City, which draws from early My Dying Bride and Katatonia, via near-suicidal black metal.
The Ruins Of Beverast have created a near-perfect symphony of despair. Bleak, barren and downright miserable; as the long nights draw in, you’ll not find better soundtrack for your worst days.