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Review: Countess - Banners of Blood
Banners of Blood

Label: Independent
Year released: 2021
Duration: 1:02:17
Tracks: 12
Genre: Black Metal


Review online: May 13, 2021
Reviewed by: Michel Renaud
Readers' Rating
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Rated 3.25/5 (65%) (4 Votes)

It had been a very long time since I had last listened to Countess and I only own a few albums. Yet, when I first listened to Banners of Blood, my first reaction was, "wait... what?" Something was off. I had to go back and listen to a couple of old albums and, yeah, this is different.

The most obvious is the vocal style. In the past it was something black metal-ish, kind of screechy and sometimes a little weird, but definitely not accessible. Here the vocals are clean, though not the syrupy kind of clean. They remind me a little bit of some punk vocals at times, as well as that of some less polished heavy metal bands where the vocalist barks his vocals for maximum effect. It's not a pretty style, but I personally kind of like it because it's so in your face.

Musically, this is all over the place. It's not very black metal. Lots of punk and rock influences to be heard here, and by that I mean the old-school stuff from the '70s, so it's not watered down crap and there's heaviness through and through. Then we get some kind of folk vibe, very catchy stuff that will make you smile, but also some passages are pretty close to symphonic black metal from the late '90s and very early 2000s. Throw in a little bit of crunchy, heavy, pounding, raw heavy metal with the occasional epic vibe and sometimes a bit on the doomy side. How's that for variety? I didn't like the album on my first listen as it took me way off guard, but after a few listens I found that I kept going back to it, if only for the kick of hearing something I missed before. Bottom line, Countess have moved away from black metal and gone for an eclectic mix of stuff and actually made it work. But you'll need to put it a little effort to let it all sink in.

More about Countess...
Review: Heilig Vuur (reviewed by Chaossphere)
Interview with Orlok on April 26, 2006 (Interviewed by Cluedo)
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