Bound by Entrails - _The Oath to Forbear and the Burden of Inheritance_
(Runefire Records, 2009)
by: Yulon Zhu (7 out of 10)
More often than not, black metal bands prefer to brand themselves with a name pulled from an evil, blasphemed hat. Though it may be a chalice full of blood and goat's brains, inverted crucifixes with Jesus' head severed off floating around the thick, bubbly goo, their names aren't generally as gory as a death metal or grindcore band. Bound by Entrails is a name that most would never guess belonged to a black metal group, though many wouldn't put the popular death/black metal combination past them. From Anchorage, Alaska, these five guys have another unique quality about them, being that Alaska has never popped up as a spot for black metal. With _The Oath to Forbear and the Burden of Inheritance_, or _The Oath and the Burden_ for short, Bound by Entrails are ready to place Alaska on the map for places to check out for black metal; even if they're probably the only band you'll find in there.

"Voices of the Past" started _The Oath and the Burden_ by leaving a bad taste of a wimpy sounding voice-over left in the mouths of listeners. Perhaps the "progressive" section of their armada is to purposely start of the album in a terrible way and surprise everyone on the second track. Well, "The Furious Host" does provide a curious contrast to whatever the first track was supposed to be. It's roaring black metal from beginning to end with the typical combination of fast instruments and throaty screams that are pretty deep when compared to most black metal vocalists. The keyboards are pushed to the background, lending to the melodic guitars. "Seafarer's Journey" gives the keyboards plenty of more face time and is a densely packed song that creates an atmosphere fitting of the title, instruments sauntering near the end.

"Under the Midnight Sun", "Tides of Redemption" and "Tides of Perdition" are harshly dense pieces, escorting the music to a few slower spots and conjuring up notable catchiness. Both delve a bit into a more Washington state area black metal sound, sort of Ceremonial Castings-esque, which is interesting as it appears the keyboardist lives in Washington. They are all powerful blasts, but drag on at times and don't sound very different from each other, blending into a giant 17, 18 minute track. Still, they show the band heading down the right track for successful symphonic / melodic black metal.

The Emperor cover of "Inno a Satana" was good and surprisingly shorter, but bands generally do pretty well when it comes to picking a band and a track to cover. The clear (in between singing and talking) vocals sound much better here than in "Voices of the Past". The live track "Across the Dead Night Sky" is executed well enough to spark interest in witnessing a live performance of the band for yourself.

It seems that tracks one and four were fillers and provided nothing to the album other than the opener adding some unwitting humor. Bound by Entrails has shown a lot of progression with their music, and while this album isn't exactly a career milestone, it's a good transition from their past into their bright future. _The Oath to Forbear and the Burden of Inheritance_, a wordy title, concurs with the music dragging a bit, but both are also quite enthralling. All in all, Bound by Entrails is a noteworthy band full of standard gloom and symphony without bordering vexation (except for track one) and should be kept in mind if only so you can sound knowledgeable by name-dropping a band from Alaska.

(article published 4/11/2009)


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