Burning The Shroud
Hammerheart has seen fit to release an odds-and-sods Aeternus album, perhaps to tide over the hungry dark masses, perhaps to hype up the upcoming (all-new) record. Whatever their intents, Burning The Shroud suffers from this ambiguity of purpose and goals, whereas war metal of this breed should always have a very clear and singular purpose that can be sustained over an entire record (for example, Marduk playing army on Panzer Division: Marduk). There is no unifying factor• you know, some live tracks, some rare tracks, maybe a new track or two whatever. It’s only on the strength of some of the songs here that this album comes out on the positive side.
New shit first: “Burning The Shroud” is a mighty beast of a song, shifting effortlessly from ultra-blast speed to multi-layered thrash groove, anchored by Ares• gruff war cries and some tasty double-bass playing courtesy of drummer Vrolok. Semi-new shit second: two numbers from the “Shadows of Old Sessions” that feature yet more of that Lombardo-esque double bass mastery, shifting washes of guitar fuzz/bleed, and some pretty nuanced playing. How would you like to try squeezing a piano in between these razor-sharp guitars? Live shit third: Blah. Blame it on the sound mix, blame it on the venue, but these field recordings totally flatten out the dynamics in their songs and revert it to a one-dimensional buzz. Next. Collector scum shit fourth: Three songs from various reissues, vinyl releases. Great stuff! The playing is a bit more raw and exotic, the drumming much more tribal and pagan, and Ares’ vocals have that necessary bit of blood in the back of the throat. Some truly revelatory moments here. How about it — bloody stumps where thumbs used to be up?
Hammerheart Records, PO Box 277, 6300 AG. Valkenburg, Holland