Grima – Rotten Garden

Rotten Garden Cover Art

Grima – Rotten Garden
Naturmacht Productions
Release Date: 22/01/2021
Running Time: 43:40
Review by Rick Eaglestone
9/10

Continuing with the studio only project, concentrating on the pagan ethos based on the worship of the elder forest, Russia’s grotesque pairing once again prepare to walk their own black metal path with fourth album – “Rotten Garden”.

‘Cedar And Owls’ has a beautifully woeful tone throughout with swirling solos and naturalist soundscapes which is so serene in places that when the fury of ‘Mourning Comes At Sunset’ takes hold I was taken aback slightly.

I am a huge fan of certain sounds in black metal and ‘At The Foot Of The Red Mountains’ has some absolutely sublime accordion included that, combined with the guitar parts, just had me going back to it again and again – This is ,easily, highlight track of the album for me!

Things take on a much calmer pace with the instrumental ‘Old Oak’ which weaves into the early part of title track ‘Rotten Garden’ and includes slices of fury with that accordion again but with added hypnotic keyboards which almost gave it a dungeon synth feel.

There is a real cold, frostbitten atmosphere to ‘Grom’ that I really enjoyed but that’s not quite the end, also included as a bonus track, is a re-recording of the 2015 track ‘Devotion To Lord’ which, if not familiar with the band previously, should make the listener go back and check out the bands previous offerings.

We are only one month into the new year, yet I don’t think it is an unimaginable assumption that by the time we reach year end “Rotten Garden” would’ve made many peoples top album lists.

‘Cedar And Owls’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Cedar And Owls
02. Mourning Comes At Sunset
03. At The Foot Of The Red Mountains
04. Old Oak
05. Rotten Garden
06. Grom
07. Devotion To Lord 2020 (Bonus Track)

LINE-UP:
Vehelm – Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Keyboard
Morbius – Guitar, Bass

LINKS:

Grima Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rick Eaglestone and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Havukruunu – Uinuos Syömein Sota

Havukruunu – Uinuos Syömein Sota
Naturmacht Productions/Rain Without End Records
Release Date: 14/8/2020
Running Time: 46:33
Review by Steven Hooke
8/10

Hailing from the cold, dark reaches of rural Finland, Havukruunu return, with their eagerly anticipated third album of Pagan Black Metal, “Uinuos Syömein Sota – Eng. “Languish, Thou War Of My Heart”.

Formed back in 2005 under the name ‘Talvikuu’, Havukruunu have built up a highly lauded reputation amongst their peers with a soul-melting blend of Black Metal, Viking Metal and Folk. But to truly get a sound idea of what this album is really like, it can’t be explained any better than the opening title track. A blood-pumping call-and-response warcry, followed by the ballistic barrage of drums from Kostajainen, and with one last skull-rattling blast, the song begins proper with dynamic black metal tremolo picking under a sea of blast beats and cymbal crashes.

However, the deeper into the song and indeed the album you go, it quickly becomes apparent why this mysterious Finnish four-piece is held in such a high regard. An all-male choir invokes the energy of being out in the wilderness, preparing for the siege as you give yourself to the land, all the while, a definite thread of traditional heavy metal winds its way throughout the guitars, adding hypnotic melody in this world of desolation and darkness. Frontman Stefan more than plays his part in the overall delivery of the sound, pairing his blackened roar with a powerful and commanding clean vocal that reverberates its way across tracks.

One of the stranger influences heard throughout “Uinuos Syömein Sota” is a bastardised apparition of power metal. Arguably black metal’s polar opposite in the world of heavy metal and all its sub-genres, it is a perfect storm of grouped folk vocals and 80’s metal riffs with the crunch of modern-day production that leads to the faintest whiff of the battle-hardened genre. The mid-section of ‘Kunne varjot saa’ owes just as much to Judas Priest and early Helloween as it does Shining (SWE) and Immortal, and that style continues into the likes of ‘Vähiin päivät käy’ and ‘Tähti-yö ja hevoiset’.

But it is the use of those deep, commanding, diaphragm-tormenting chimes of the vocal choir that really sets Havukruunu apart from their contemporaries. Nothing fills the air with the scent of burning sage quite like the battle cries pitching odes to the Old Gods with beautiful poetic lyrics such as “…Hän puhuu sanoin pimeyden, hän kutsuu uneen iäiseen; Tuuli uinuu saa hiljainen ilma tyyni lasin kaltainen; Kuu kuollut katseensa alas luo…” (“…He speaks with words of darkness, he calls to sleep an age; The wind asleep gets a quiet air like a calm glass; The moon dead gazes down to Him…”).

“Uinuos Syömein Sota” is a multi-staged experience. Being drawn in by the majesty and grandiosity of the opening lines of the album, slowly being able to explore the performative layers and the worlds being built, along with creatively broad songwriting that refuses to be generic, paint-by-numbers, black metal. This album stands as much chance of being the soundtrack to the end of days as it does being the war song to take the land back.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Uinuos syömein sota
02. Kunnes varjot saa
03. Ja viimein on yö
04. Pohjolan tytär
05. Kuin öinen meri
06. Jumalten hämär
07. Vähiin päivät käy
08. Tähti-yö ja hevoiset

LINE-UP:
Stefan – Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Henkka – Guitars
Sinisalo – Bass
Kostajainen – Drums, Percussion

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Steven Hooke and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.