Blood Red Fog – On Death’s Wings (Saturnal Records)

Sunday, 18th May 2014
Rating: 7.5/10

The old vibes die hard, especially for some. For this Finnish duo, old-form black metal is the way, the light, and the glory forever. On Death’s Wings is in many regards similar to a release I covered not too long ago, Vanhelga’s Lägtan, and for the most part, it really works. This release, recorded in chunks over a several year period, some as far back as 2008, features all the staples a genre fan or outsider alike is apt to expect: lots of tremolo runs, pained vocals, blastbeats galore, and a lofi production that stops just short of a tornado. The impact, however, isn’t always the same (nor as memorable).

Effect-laden vocals, a strong bass presence, and a penchant for moments of ramshackle space juxtaposed between bouts of fury, On Death’s Wings often offers glimpses of nascent brilliance. Among the six tracks on display here, however, much like in the 8-minute “Black Hole Soul”, the songs frequently run a bit too long for the ideas they carry. Repetition of key components is a frequent go-to here and at times it can make for a real drag during listening. The track that manages to avoid this best is mid-point highlight “Circle Of Resurrection” and its many successive components, often violently racing from one point to another.

And the album manages to close quite well on the near-11 minute closer “Liberation,” a fitting piece to envision a great calamity or ruin and the infinite and quiet murk that is likely to follow it. All in all, On Death’s Wings is a release that genre fans are likely to dive into with aplomb and find plenty to love while those familiar-but-uninterested are likely to hear it, scratch their heads, and continuing wandering what the fuss is all about. To that end, it’s probably the most ‘kvlt’ release I’ve come across this year in its components and thematic qualities, so there’s something to be said for that. For the familiar, no matter which side you fall on, that should tell you everything you need to know.

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