Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Gmork/Astarium/In Tenebriz - Misterious Winds From Ancient Past


For the fourth review in my black metal series, I step away from the UK and head to the cold and unforgiving terrain of Russia. The black metal scene in Eastern Europe is exploding and this three-way split CD features three bands pushing the envelope. Some of you may be familiar with Astarium, who featured on the very blog sometime ago with the Ostracism of Anachoret tape. Gmork and In Tenebriz are even unknowns to me!

Gmork are the only band on this split that isn't a one-man black metal band. They play an unholy, misanthropic form of black metal.  Astarium is more symphonic while In Tenebriz prefers the ambient/instrumental approach.

Tracklist:-

1. Gmork - Ветер, который рассказывает историю
2. Gmork - Воспоминания
3. Gmork - Болотный морок
4. Gmork - Картины прошлого
5. Astarium - In Twilight of the Gods
6. Astarium - Center of the Cross
7. Astarium - Embraces of Mermaid
8. In Tenebriz - Before the Birth of the Gods
9. In Tenebriz - Голос вьюги
10. In Tenebriz - Омут
11. In Tenebriz - Русальи слёзы

All of Gmork's four song titles are in Russian, which funnily enough I can't translate. Not to worry though because it's the music that matters here. Their opener Ветер, который рассказывает историю builds with orchestral ambience, choral chanting and panpipes. It belies what is to come with gentle tones and whispered vocals. Initial impressions are that Gmork favour very atmospheric and grand black metal, with medieval touches. Their cold black metal sound though does start to shine through in second song Воспоминания, with some chilling growls and shrieks. Musically though, there's plenty to like with well-placed piano and a slight symphonic edge bursting through during the song. With interesting samples featuring natural sounds between the songs, they feel very otherworldly. Болотный морок is there grandest song with prominent brass during the intro and during the song itself. This is exactly the type of music you'd expect to greet you as you approach a distant outpost in the coldest corner of Russia. Very majestic and regal! The closing track to their section of the split, Картины прошлого, features more stirring piano and probably the biggest hit of black metal yet, thanks to some loud and full guitar. There's still plenty of melody though, so the music doesn't sound muddied.

Astarium’s next with three songs. Beginning with what sound like a baying crowd, In Twilight Of The Gods builds in the same way that Gmork's songs did, with grand keys but Astarium’s sound is very different. It's a more raw sound, with less texture and gargled vocals. There's still a level of ambience here, but it's more electronic. It has it's own atmosphere though and with the crowd noises featuring during the song, you get the feeling that Astarium are going for a more militaristic sound. The band manages to remain chillingly bleak during Center of The Cross, though thanks to the traditional melodies that are played during the song, it keeps its medieval leanings very much in tact. I'm all for different instruments being used in black metal like this, as it gives it personality and character. Astarium's more expansive side rings through again with their final contribution, Embraces of Mermaid. It has more of a twister fairytale texture to it to begin with, thanks to the melody coming from the keys.This song is instrumental, so acts as more of an ambient track but highlight the creativity of sole-member SiN.

Closing this CD are four tracks from In Tenebriz. Before The Birth of The Gods starts of with an almost mechanized intro, before orchestral layers being to build. Being an instrumental song, In Tenebriz prefer the softly softly approach. It's at this point that this split beings to make sense. All three bands, while different in their appearances, feature similar approaches to black metal. They go for a production, which allows the instrumentalism of all three to stand out.  As the guitar and drums close the opening number by In Tenebriz, you're cradled by some thrash elements. The programmed drums during Голос вьюги give more of a futuristic texture to proceedings. Curiously, there are vocals in this song, which goes against the instrumental description I gave earlier. They're harsh cries too, which provide a level of foreboding to the song. Омут carries a lot of weight with it during it's relatively short playing time and the familiar instrumental mid-section provides a rousing bed for the guitars to lie on, for the final emotive verse. Closing song Русальи слёзы carries that rousing momentum on through nearly five minutes of clever and warm black metal. The fact that In Tenebriz is merely a one-man band is pretty startling when you consider the instrumentation and effects used in these four tracks.

This release has provided me with a very different slant of black metal and one certainly removed from what I've covered in this series so far. That's good though, as variation and originality keeps the genre alive and while some people may overlook bands from the Eastern block, there's absolutely no reason to look down on them. They add a sometime stripped-back, but mostly vibrant and emotive outlook and will certainly stir the heart of even the most jaded kvlt follower.

You can hear In Tenebriz's contributions to this split here:-



The CD was released on three occasions over the last year or so. You should be able to pick a copy up from any of these labels -

Dark East Productions - http://darkeastproductions.narod.ru/
Hell Division Productions - http://hell-division.ru/
Firstborn Chaos Productions - http://www.firstbornchaos.narod.ru/index.html
RLD Records - http://rdlrecords.weebly.com/

Gmork Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gmork
Astarium Website - http://www.astarium.ru/eng/index.html
In Tenebriz Myspace- https://myspace.com/tenebriz

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