Let the Empires Fall
Surely much better than it has any right to be is this new platter from Canada's (!) Grimbane, the new creative vehicle for vocalist/guitarist Barbarous (or as you once knew him, more likely, Ace Gestapo from Blasphemy). "Let The Empire Fall" is an ill-tempered slice of total throwback Black Metal, harkening back to the reallllllly early Church-burnin' stuff, trying to sound as alien and cult as possible. It's funny, it's releases like this that remind me of how shocked I was at hearing "Transilvanian Hunger" or "Black Shining Leather" for the first time, not saying it's up there with those release, nosir-fucking-eee, just saying that it has that same lingering fumes and dedication to ugliness. With many of the tracks "introduced" by surprisingly rational atheistic arguments sampled from documentaries instead of dripping water or occult chants, it's a pretty fucking cool change of pace where you actually learn something you get bludgeoned over the head. (Not unlike Sesame Street, incidentally.)
Unlike the early black metal the members of Grimbane undoubtedly light black candles to, the sonics of "Let The Empires Fall" are not all treble all the time, there is a good bottom end enchoring songs. Blast beats can change to a steady chug and groove at will. The songcraft is what you would expect from Black Metal of this ilk - ice-cold mantralike waves of blackened distortion, giving way to surprisingly catchy swathes of swaggering thrash and mournful widescreen despair. Riffs range from twitching waves of nails to long washes of solid-state distortion that almost call to mind what a synthesizer would do, and then suddenly the guitar parts get all huge and dramatic and epic at unexpected junctures. Check out the thrashing, magisterial darkness of "Cauldron of Burning Iron" switching from mournful clean picking to super-tight authoritarian thrash that the likes of Metallica wouldn't mind nicking in a second. Barbarous's vocal style is a completely unpalatable and dissonant croak/wheeze, keeping things as undergound as possible - I end up enjoying the sheer gonzo weirdness of it.
Nothing new to see here, but the intensity and conviction and alchemical combinations of variant extreme aesthetics make it a fine, fine listen.