23 Jan 2017

Menschheitsdämmerung: "Cleaver of Skies and Tenets"

With an instinct for majestic riffs and compelling material, the Belgian one-man army conquers most rivals
In an attempt to achieve unparalleled atmosphere in the name of depression and deep, dark forests, many modern black metal groups have taken to ridiculous amounts of distortion in what seems to be an almost deliberate attempt to obscure their own inability to write compelling material. Classics like Burzum's Filosofem had clear production with every instrument standing out, the compositions themselves easily holding their own regardless of sound. Xasthur's Telepathic with the Deceased may well be the album that for many people has incited this infatuation with thick shrouds of noise and an abundance of effects on vocals as well as strings, but even this modern classic has its obvious hooks and captivating passages.

"...huge, swarming riffs in a thrilling environment of envigorating tempo changes."

While there are throngs upon throngs of these bedroom depressive black metal wannabes out there, Menschheitsdämmerung shows us that there are still one-man bands within the genre that manage to deliver something else entirely. Instead of favoring cosmic nebulas thick with effects and distortion, clouding every turn with poor compositional decisions, this project focuses on huge, swarming riffs in a thrilling environment of envigorating tempo changes. Cleaver of Skies and Tenets offers us long opuses in the spirit of Carpathian Forest and Immortal without stretching the concept thin over a flimsy conceptual frame. Menschheitsdämmerung revels in groupings of blast beats overtaken by zealousness, gripping you right by the balls and pulling you in with sheer force rather than beckoning you closer with half-enticing ambience.

The album is quite genre loyal, but with just half an hour total - distributed equally over five tracks - things never grow stale. Knowing when to stop is a form of art in more or less any genre, but this goes especially for black metal where bands are often seen re-use the same tired old formula forever and ever; This is an artform that Menschheitsdämmerung knows by heart. There is nothing uninspired about this album, and while the tracks are largely very uniform in style, each song takes you on yet another journey through progressions that seem endearingly familiar, but fresh and vigorous.

There are but a few times where passages come off as a bit predictable, and the inaudibility of the vocals clashes with the vividly effortless riffing produced on the guitar, but to cheat one self of this album is tantamount to heresy. This is black metal with finesse and brutality in equal measures, like it should be.


Released in 2013 on No Sleep till Megiddo Records


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