Hail - _Inheritance of Evilness_
(Barbarian Wrath, 2004)
by: Matthias Noll (9 out of 10)
Barbarian Wrath has established a niche where the label seems to have found a dedicated and loyal customer base, but the records they release are usually only a minority's cup of tea. No norsecore, no trend, no post second wave black metal, no scene-points.

I have to say that I have never seen what's so great about bands like Stiny Plamenu, Amon or Alastor and -- while I enjoy the following -- I understand that Countess or Gravewuerm will never appeal to more than an incredibly small segment of the underground. It's a shame and probably a result of this situation that two of the latest records Black Goat has put out seem to not be receiving their fair share of attention and praise. First came the excellent Faustcoven debut, and now Barbarian Wrath has released another winner with the mighty Hail. The label describes Hail as the bastard child of Beherit and Varathron, which sounds like quite an odd mixture. While one might tend to nod in agreement once being familiar with _Inheritance of Evilness_, I bet that the initial expectations how exactly Hail might sound have most likely been wrong.

Musically and as far as the songwriting goes, this is indeed built on foundations comparable to Varathron, although executed in a rawer, sloppier and more primitive fashion. A warm guitar sound (by black metal standards) merges with a dry, dominant bass in a percussive and simplistic style. In unison, the instruments churn out hypnotizing and infectious metal riffs throughout lengthy, sometimes doomy compositions mainly comparable to the style of the early Greek scene, and the Varathron cover "Unholy Funeral" easily sounds like an original track.

Hail don't deliver the grinding, raging hell a la _The Oath of Black Blood_ most people might expect when the name Beherit comes up, but the same evil and fucked-up spirit can be found here. This is not the soundtrack to your average romantic vision of Satanic rituals, with a gorgeous blonde on the altar and Shagrath or Dani Filth with a leather skirt and plastic dagger around the corner. _IoE_ is the real deal, where the stench of decay does not smell the least bit like roses and the sloppy playing fits this mood as well as Capricornus' interpretation of drumming benefitted early Graveland. It is the ultimately ugly and ritualistic nature of _IoE_, and to an extent the vocals, that finally justify the Beherit comparison. Said vocals are one of the highlights of this record. In days where your standard black metal screamer is as faceless and interchangeable as the countless hordes of brutal death metal studs who know how to set up a harmonizer, Dirtmaster's totally intense and diverse barbaric growling, tortured howling and shrieking is absolutely impressive.

The album reaches its climax during the mesmerizing final track "Barbaryan (Finland)", when the eerie and chilly disharmonies of a horn sound like the roll-call for the apocalypse! One or two tracks could have been shorter, but overall this is one of the best records of 2004.

Contact: http://www.barbarianwrath.org

(article published 31/12/2004)

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