Thursday, January 13, 2011

Ruins of Beverast - Foulest Semen of a Sheltered Elite (2009)

Here I am, writing about more German black metal, even though I claim to never listen to it. Ruins of Beverast, the solo project of Alexander von Mellenwald (from Nagelfar, the German band, not the Swedish one), has been around since 2003 and is on Van Records. "Foulest Semen" is his third full length and it received a lot of attention - it was on a few "best of the year" lists.

While I think it deserves the attention, I don't think it should be called black metal. It is definitely an unconventional and experimental album, which seems to make most reviewers delirious with happiness (though I've read a few "this is the worst album I've ever heard" reviews). There's a lot going on here, to be sure: black metal, death, doom, symphonic black metal, and even some goth/industrial influences.

There are plenty of weird electronic elements and everything seems to be all over the place, particularly the vocals. He does some chanting, death metal vocals mixed with some pretty chilling black metal screams, whispers, and some layered straight singing, which I could do without. There is definitely a lot of talented musicianship, particularly the drumming (he was the drummer in Nagelfar), which fortunately gets as much attention as the other instruments.

Overall I'm not really sure how I feel about this release. I like it and definitely recommend it, but I think I'm too unsure about what's going on to be really enthusiastic. I'm also a little irritated by the length of the songs (12 minutes), which are broken up by tidbits of chanting or instrumental pieces. There is a lot of atmosphere and weirdness, which I appreciate. It's experimental and somewhat inaccessible, but if you give it a chance (or a few chances), it can be a pretty rewarding listen.

Track list:
1. I Raised This Stone as a Ghastly Memorial
2. Alu
3. God's Ensanguined Bestiaries
4. Mount Sinai Moloch
5. Transcending Saturnine Iericho Skies
6. Kain's Countenance Fell
7. The Restless Mills
8. Theriak - Baal - Theriak
9. Blood Vaults (II - Our Despots Cleanse the Levant)
10. Arcane Pharmakon Messiah

The limited edition vinyl also has a Tiamat cover ("Where the Serpents Ever Dwell") and I should note that both vinyl releases are double LPs.

Check them out on their myspace page or listen here. Buy it if you like it!

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