The Ruins of Beverast has to be one of my favourite black metal bands that have ever existed therefore I was suitably excited when I saw this release dropped. Although I was slightly disappointed there weren’t more tracks, I was pleasantly surprised by Mourning Beloveth. They were not a band I had known previously, and I found them to be a suitably morbid yet beautiful addition to this haunting EP. I can almost not put into words how much I enjoyed this release, but I’m going to give it a shot.
The split kicks off with a ghoulish yet bewitching track, almost ballad-like, performed by the aforementioned Mourning Beloveth titled “I Saw A Dying Child In Your Arms”. This piece has the energy of a full moon seance, both serene yet morose in quality. The introduction of the song has the air of traditional doom, partially reminiscent of Candlemass but with slightly less operatic style vocals. The song is like an underwater swell, repetitive yet growing more powerful with each churn. The vocal performance by Frank Brennan is particularly moving and mostly dominates the sound space. The lead guitar either performed by Brennan or Pauric Gallagher is also worth noting. The virtuosic, improvised sounding lead works in counterpoint to the simpler more strophic lead vocals. The sequence of scalic patterns fills up the empty space but does not overwhelm the mix.
The song soon moves to a slightly more suspended feel with the leads morphing into washed-out tremolo while the rest of the band crawls doggedly on like some stoic funeral march. At around six minutes and thirty seconds, we hear screamed vocals join in chorus with the clean vocals (performed by Darren Moore) as emotions rise to cathartic levels. The presence of the vocal performance grows more powerful as Brennan chants a woeful, wordless phrase. The addition of the screamed vocals here brings the song to full climax as the music engulfs you in majesty. Extra higher-pitched layered vocals join the choir and the song slowly fades away. If I am to say anything negative about the song it is that I wish it had a more defined ending as often fade out endings are slightly anti-climactic. I feel some sort of cadence would have served the piece well, a musical, final nail in the coffin. It is a small gripe, however. The song itself is pure bliss and sadness.
The performance of the rest of the instruments on the track is fairly uncomplicated, yet suitable for the mood. In fact, the most prominent feature of the track is the atmosphere it creates. The despair in the musical tones is palpable yet somewhat hopeful; death that leads to new life; endless pain yet with the knowledge that something better is to come. The blissful yet terrifying release of death. A swan song for the poets, retribution to those who feel lost and alone. This piece seeps into the depths of your being and swallows you whole with melancholy, with grief but also hope.
As the Ruins of Beverast track, “Silhouettes Of Death’s Grace”, begins we are immediately struck with a more disturbing atmosphere. The sound of an announcer comes through on a local PA, the words indistinguishable but somehow giving off an air of unease. As the first guitar part is heard the images conjured up are immediately tinged with fear and madness. The guitar part has an obscure quality, not entirely dark nor hopeful, but cavernous and neutral with a slight jazzy, diminished quality, addled with mania. Strange layering of what seems like either keys, vocals, or both, are washed-out in the background. An incoherent, veiled curse. The song grows more serious as the vocals enter: ethereal barks, as of some hellish beast. It tears at your ears; fearful and brittle.
The following section evokes the feeling of being underwater in a submarine that doubles up as a haunted house ride, something similar to the chilling boat ride featured in the original Charlie and The Chocolate Factory movie but with an altogether more disquieting ending. A female voice is heard though I cannot make out the words, but the effect is unnerving. Oddly pitched voices are panned left and right. One screeches shrilly while the other drawls a monotonous drone. These ghostly vocals seem somewhat nostalgic yet eerie. Like some unwanted memory pushed to the back of the mind. An ungodly snarl punctuates the change in sections.
Something this piece shares with Mourning Beloveth’s is the churning nature of the song structure and the cyclical picking which has both a calming yet unnerving effect. The mid-section of the song once again places you in an underwater maelstrom that threatens to drag me under, drowning me in the musical texture. The unsettling howl is heard again as the current intensifies. Unholy keys swirl, a rising presence, a symphony of cerebral uncertainty.
Before long the song returns to the original picked guitar part with additional textural layering that could be considered a lead section. I say ‘could be considered’ because the instruments are hard to make out individually and everything blurs into one continuous wash of alluring dissonance. A semi-monotonous chant is also heard towards the end of the track solidifying the ritual with a final rite. If I am not mistaken, the sample heard at the end of the song might be the same one heard in the middle of the track, but I could be incorrect. I wish I could decipher the words preceding and concluding the track (if anyone knows or has any idea drop me a message).
This track might be everything I ever wanted in a Ruins of Beverast track or any music for that matter. Although short, this split has a phenomenal atmosphere and is oddly comforting in its own ominous way. It is a no-brainer buy. Go listen to it now.
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