Bjarm – Imminence (Review)

BjarmBjarm are from Russia and this is their début album of Symphonic Black Metal.

After a bold and bombastic opener the first song proper starts. Knowledge of Doom sets the tone for the rest of the album.

Inspiration comes from bands like Dimmu Borgir, Chthonic, Amiensus and Gloria Morti; essentially this is Black Metal with Symphonic effects, female vocals and a Death Metal influence that gives the band a harsher edge.

The production is heavy and well-recorded; everything stands out and sounds very impressive.

The vocals are deep and growled, for the most part, although spoken parts make numerous appearances. When the female vocals appear they are like the finest silk wrapped around a lovingly sharp blade. Higher, more-Black Metal vocals also have their part to play and these sound serrated like razor wire.

The music is well played and considerable thought has obviously gone into the songs. The level of orchestration and keyboards, etc. is remarkable and the songs are layered with emotion and grandeur. The Death Metal vocals add bite to the tracks and ensure that the band keep their harder edge in amongst the rich textures of the flowing musical theatre.

Overall this is a very professional début that benefits from a huge sound and an impressive theatrical/cinematic quality. For all the pomp and splendour however, they keep a sharper edge to their sound and this prevents the album from becoming stale, in my mind. Add to this some strong songwriting and you have a thoroughly enjoyable album.

Bjarm are ones to keep an eye on that’s for sure. With the right support they could go far.

Chthonic – Bú-Tik (Review)

ChthonicMelodic Black/Death Metal from Taiwan; I haven’t heard Chthonic since their excellent Seediq Bale album so I was looking forward to seeing what Bú-Tik had to offer.

Chthonic embody orchestration and fury. Highly melodic and razor sharp, the songs are flourished like swords as only a master can.

Precise, tight riffing and swathes of keys and strings are combined with folk-Asian influences to produce songs that are reminiscent of the symphonic Dimmu Borgir’s and Cradle of Filth’s of the world but with the origins of the harmonies coming from a much different background. Chthonic very much have their own character.

The drums and multi-layered venomous vocals dominate this release, with the orchestration pitched at the right level. The guitars are sheets of serrated steel working underneath everything, and the bass is muted at best.

With good songwriting and an expert understanding of this genre Chthonic have once again produced a well-rounded and thoroughly enjoyable release. There’s an intensity to these tracks and the molten Metal barely lets up until the album fades. With a whole hat-full of ideas and quirks rolled into their sound repeated listens are recommended. The direct assault of the songs works immediately, but after that has gone you’re left with the insidious harmonies stalking you when you least expect it. Symphonic Black Metal earworms indeed.

An impressively realised album that has obviously had a lot of work put into the compositions and structure of the tracks. Check them out and see what you think; just beware the pointy bits – those swords are sharper than they look…