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Review: The Ruins Of Beverast - The Thule Grimoires
The Ruins Of Beverast
The Thule Grimoires

Label: Van Records
Year released: 2021
Duration: 1:09:26
Tracks: 7
Genre: Black Metal


Review online: February 18, 2021
Reviewed by: Mjölnir
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Rated 4.25/5 (85%) (16 Votes)

The problem with being a living legend is that everyone expects you to keep churning out masterworks, with anything less often being seen as a sign of losing your touch. There was a time, at least up to Foulest Semen of a Sheltered Elite, where it seemed sole member Alexander von Melinwald was just going to keep living up to that impossible standard with his project The Ruins of Beverast, but I was one of the people who felt that Blood Vaults was a misstep, focusing too much on atmosphere and ended up being mostly aimless and dull because of it. The following album, Exuvia, was a big step up, returning to the tighter focus of Foulest Semen while adding in a tribal, ritualistic aspect to the atmosphere, but still didn't quite hit the same highs of older works, and I was expecting this album to be something like it in that regard. On the one hand, I was right, because this is very much a continuation of what Melinwald has been grasping for over the past few albums. On the other hand, I was wrong, because not only is The Thule Grimoires his best work since Foulest, it can also stand alongside his past masterworks with pride.

This album is very much in the vein of Exuvia while also incorporating a greater focus on ambience similar to what was found on Blood Vaults, only now with the benefit of tighter songwriting that uses its atmospheric sections to expand the songs rather than pad them out. I realize I've been discussing this album solely in comparison to previous works, but Melinwald has spent nearly two decades crafting a sound that, while still firmly within the Black Metal spectrum, is entirely unlike anything else, so I wouldn't even know how to talk about it in any other way. He's taken the Atmospheric Black Metal base he worked with on Unlock the Shrine and since then incorporated elements of Doom, Ambient, and more recently folk, combining them with an unparalleled grasp of mood to make dense and involved music that many have taken inspiration from, but none can truly imitate. This does mean he's had to sacrifice some of the heaviness of the past to keep his sound from being oversaturated, and some might take issue with that, but I won't argue if it produces songs like the massive opener "Ropes into Eden" and the haunting "The Tundra Shines". That's not to say there's a complete lack of aggression, as is evident on the harsher parts of the jaw-dropping "Anchoress in Furs" or the blistering "Polar Hiss Hysteria", the latter of which might be some of his best material to date.

When I first listened to this album, I found it to be meandering and dull, so focused on generating atmosphere that it forgot to give its songs a discernible structure. Of course, any album from Melinwald takes time to properly sink in, each one densely layered and packed with depth and style to spare. The Thule Grimoires is a typical album in that regard, only now it seems he's finally grasped what he's been reaching for since Foulest Semen of a Sheltered Elite to create a mystical, antediluvian sound that finds him back at pushing down the boundaries of what Black Metal can do. I'm calling this the Black Metal album of the year, and I doubt I'll be proven wrong.

More about The Ruins Of Beverast...
Review: Blood Vaults - The Blazing Gospel of Heinrich Kramer (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: Blood Vaults - The Blazing Gospel of Heinrich Kramer (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Exuvia (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Foulest Semen of a Sheltered Elite (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Rain Upon The Impure (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: The Thule Grimoires (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Unlock The Shrine (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Interview with Meilenwald on June 18, 2007 (Interviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
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