Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Bloodwraith - As Above So Below Review

Hailing from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, Bloodwraith is an intense black metal band that sounds like it was recorded back with the big bands of the genre in the '90's.  With one full length and a small promo under their belt, Bloodwraith is onto a good start in terms of a unique sound.  Their admiration of old school black metal has a massive impact on their sound.  Mixing that with modern aspects black metal makes As Above So Below an interesting release.

As Above So Below starts off with a very strange piano/synth intro that seems a bit out of place.  The spacey, futuristic feel of the track doesn't fit with the rest of the album very well as it sounds very well produced.  With that being said, the musicianship on the piano melody is astounding.  A fast moving, blues-oriented lead that would better fit a power metal album, but impressive none the less.  In the midst of the album, there is another keyboard interlude.  While the melody fits the tone of the music a bit more, it still feels very out of place.  I do like the track though, as it has a gothic overtone, something I love when it comes to piano melodies.  The other hints of keys spread throughout the album are not as out of place as the two tracks.  The drumming on the album is quite solid but at times, a bit unorthodox for black metal.  Nevertheless, its impressive and keeps the songs going along at a steady tempo.  The guitars sound exactly like old Bathory, Emperor, or Mayhem recordings.  They have a raw and primitive overtone and sound like a buzz saw.  The riffs are not crystal clear but have enough definition that you can hear them.  The vocals are another part of this release that are quite strange.  The first hint of them that you hear is a replica of the easily recognizable King Diamond shriek.  From then on out, you don't hear anything close to that again.  The growls are intense and menacing.  The Bathory influences can be heard above anything else in the vocals.  Introduced a bit later in the album are vocals that sound a bit like chanted lyrics.  Like the King Diamond screech, they don't really fit in the music and sound a bit out of place.

Bloodwraith is off to a good start in defining their own sound.  The solid songwriting is there and the musicianship is quite good.  I do believe As Above So Below suffers from a bit of an identity crisis, though.  The keyboard tracks sound out of place, as do some of the vocals.  While they are not a major part of this release, they are still a hindrance to the listening experience too big to ignore.  Once Bloodwraith focuses more on what they do to sound like instead of all the influences they want to incorporate, I think their releases will be absolutely killer!


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