The Ruins of Beverast - _Unlock the Shrine_
(Battle Kommand Records, 2006)
by: T. DePalma (8.5 out of 10)
In the endless line of mono-creative black metal there has never been something quite like _Unlock the Shrine_. This brainchild of former Nagelfar drummer Alexander von Meilenwald, who likens the music to the apocalyptic collapse of the famed "Rainbow Bridge" in Norse mythology, was originally released in 2004 on German label Van and now sees North American distribution through Battle Kommand Records.

On paper, Ruins of Beverast seem to be a part of the more typical, commercial and outlandish sound of its contemporaries, combining elements of Norse black metal with variants of avant-garde and shoegaze. Outlandish, certainly, but its bizarre mixture of styles is hardly fashionable by comparison. Unlike groups such as Blut Aus Nord, who've been greeted by similar reverence as innovators, Meilenwald does not give away his influences so easily, nor lean too long on each for sustenance.

Peppered with film samples throughout its hour-long discourse, the elusive, loosely cinematic tone of the music is carried by fantastic processionals and shivering guitar currents. Keyboards effuse behind walls of epic structuring. Hints of early Mayhem subside into Summoning-esque pomp and deform into an operatic horror show with eerie clanks of armor, lonely drips of water and crippled melodies with some self-aware camp in between. Primarily, vocals emerge as part of the music itself, coming into focus gradually like images in a pin-art box and dissolve back into the layers of sound.

This re-issue is packaged with a new and far less interesting layout including lyrics and liner notes. The artwork may be indistinct and the color scheme undercut by amateur, pixilated graphics but _Unlock the Shrine_ is not an album to be passed up twice.


(article published 20/6/2006)

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