|Review: Hrafnblod - Heathen Psalms|
Label: Wodfreca Records
Year released: 2012
Review online: May 6, 2012
Reviewed by: Christopher Foley
Rated 3.75/5 (75%) (4 Votes)
Here we have the debut release from the UK-based blackened death metal project Hrafnblóð. Before cracking on with the main review I have to mention how this CD was presented to me. Normally promos come with a press-sheet and a slipcase or if I'm lucky an actual CD. Now feeling the package before opening I assumed this was the press-sheet and slipcase treatment – which it technically was – however the press-sheet was an off-white color, bound with a wax seal, the seal having the imprint of a wolf and runes. Now that is going the extra mile.
Onto to the actual music now. With obviously such effort being made in the way of presentation I was interested to hear how this sounds. The end result is some highly serviceable blackened death metal, that whilst isn't without its flaws; is a hell of a lot better than I initially expected. Sole member Gaz really doesn't skimp on the riffs here, and I would definitely say they were the standout point of Heathen Psalms.
The vocals are done well enough, although nothing really new or spectacular, however my main niggle with this release is that drum cymbal sound. Now obviously they're programmed which is fair enough, this is the modern age and it isn't something I'd mark down points for. However, what I will mark down points for is when the cymbals sound a tinny mess, to the point that it affects the enjoyment. Next time around I'd suggest putting a little more effort into getting the cymbal sound right.
Fortunately, that aside this is really quite enjoyable, and there is without a doubt potential for building and improving the sound here. There is quite a nice variation, with slower, more melodic tracks such as "Skeletal Skies" providing respite from the more enraged numbers such as the fiery opening track "Ashes of Tyranny". Whilst there is certainly some stiff competition in the UK black metal scene, I'd say Hrafnblóð has the stones to keep a float, and I hope to see the project built upon next time around. Certainly worth checking out!
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