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Review: Halberd - Remnants of Crumbling Empires
Remnants of Crumbling Empires

Label: Independent
Year released: 2020
Duration: 41:02
Tracks: 4
Genre: Doom/Death


Review online: April 23, 2021
Reviewed by: Mjölnir
Readers' Rating
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Rated 4.33/5 (86.67%) (9 Votes)

You know, with how integral Metal-Archives is to music nerds like myself keeping track of bands in the underground, I'm honestly surprised I haven't heard of more bands whose members met on the site. Halberd happens to be one of them, consisting of members from other projects formed in a similar manner like The Outer RIM and Flowers to the Welshman at Dusk (no, I didn't make that last one up), both of which are experimental and, frankly, not that great. Thankfully, Halberd avoids those pitfalls by working in a more familiar sound and doing it better than most of the competition.

Remnants of Crumbling Empires is a churning, violent slab of Death/Doom with a kick of first-wave Black Metal that sounds something akin to Celtic Frost and early Asphyx going to war with one another. You get faster, pugilistic sections with bludgeoning riffs and bellowing growls that lead into slow, hateful crawls complete with an encompassing atmosphere of death and decay after a pointless battle that are punctuated by some startling melodic leads that give the songs more dimension than you'd come to expect from this style. That's not to say that these songs lack substance, as they're all tightly performed and contain enough energy and variety to keep things interesting, whether it be on shorter tracks like the album opener "Northern Bloodletting" and the blistering "Barghash's Poison" or the long, dragging monoliths like the crushing "Ignorance of Morbidity" and the colossal album closer "Dead Horse Cavalry". You may have noticed that I just named every track on this album when singing its praises, but when you have fistfuls of killer riffs with a sick fucking guitar tone and vocals that range from hateful grunts to bloodthirsty snarls, how can you make an album where the highlights aren't just every track?

If I were to use a flowery promo term to describe this release, it'd be erudite. The band knows their roots and expertly builds from them to produce an album that's not so much old-fashioned as it is a modern take on a traditional sound, one dedicated to nihilistic anguish at the horrors of the world whose only response is to be just as ugly and horrific. If I were to speak like a well-adjusted human being, I'd tell you that Remnants of Crumbling Empires is a shining example of the classic Doom/Death sound that doesn't so much balance atmosphere with brutality as it does make them indistinguishable from one another. Killer shit.

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