Thursday, 24 October 2013
Review; Old Corpse Road - 'Tis Witching Hour...As Spectres We Haunt This Kingdom
1. 'Tis Witching Hour
2. The Cauld Lad Of Hylton
3. Hag Of The Mist
4. The Buried Moon
5. The Wild Voice Came
6. The Crier Of Claiffe
7. The Secret Of The Rolling Waves
8. Isobel - Queen of Scottish Witches
9. Glassensikes At Witching Hour
10. As Spectres We Haunt This Kingdom
Black Metal, as I've frequently stated, is a massively overcrowded sub-genre of metal. For every band there is playing Black Metal with passion and true identity in their music, there seems to be another five bands simply jumping on the bandwagon. The UK Black Metal scene is one that has sometimes piqued my interest but has also proven to have it's share of identikit bands.
Old Corpse Road are, I'm glad to say, part of the solution rather than the problem. Hailing from Darlington, their style of Black Metal, while not entirely unheard of before, has a genuine spark to it that draws the listener in. 'Tis Witching Hour...' has a soul-compelling narrative from the start, and shows to be more about enthralling compositions than heaviness for heaviness' sake and metal brownie points. The opening track is used to set the tone of Celtic ritual and the reimagining of British folklore. It's a welcome change to the well-trod ground of political preaching, misanthropic bile and anti-religious or satanic sermons that is so synonymous with Black Metal.
There are clean vocals as well as incredibly shrill, raspy shrieks and guttural growls too. A lot going on with the vocals that help prevent the band's sound from becoming samey. The music flows from blast-beat laden and buzz saw guitar onslaughts to gothic atmospheric bridges and doesn't seem baffling as it does so. There are masterful passages of eccentric folk-inspired music too, as the bridge-track 'The Wild Voice Came' demonstrates with a melancholy beauty. As a complete work of art it is cohesive, and more importantly it stands out from the crowd, both of Black Metal and of Metal music in general.
The band does bear the mark of some potential influences, such as Primordial, Burzum and, very slightly, Behemoth, but to draw a direct comparison to any of those bands would be somewhat foolish. Orchestral grandeur is always welcome in such an aesthetic genre as Black Metal, and Old Corpse Road execute it well. It doesn't sound clichéd or overdone, nothing in this album overstays it's welcome. It's well written and brilliantly executed.
Cinematic voices-samples in choice places give the album even more of an epic feel. It's a brilliant cocktail of everything that can make Black Metal great and it's done tremendously well. For those of a Black Metal persuasion, this album is essential listening. For those who like to appreciate well-crafted music, the same applies. I'll be keeping a close eye on this band