Faustcoven - _The Halo of Burning Wings_
(Barbarian Wrath, 2003)
by: Matthias Noll (8 out of 10)
Often doomy, meandering and worming onwards like an army of maggots, Faustcoven conjure the malicious spirit of early Samael and occasionally the sinister groove of Tom G. Warrior without recycling his riffs. Although this one-man band (strengthened by a human session drummer) is from Norway, Faustcoven celebrate a ritualistic and evil-to-the-bone, pre-second wave version of black metal -- which is not really surprising considering that they are on the Barbarian Wrath label. While their take on black metal consists of simply ignoring the existence of albums like _Transylvanian Hunger_ and _De Mysteriis dom Sathanas_, _The Halo of Burning Wings_ is by no means just an enthusiastic but amateurish homage to the Neanderthal days of this style. The thick, suffocating guitar sound is certainly no product of the '80s; the production is unpolished and ripping with loads of low end, but not of the "recorded in a garbage can with my cousin's answering machine" variety; and even if Faustcoven are wearing some of their influences proudly on their sleeves, I'm not aware of any band in particular that is directly and completely comparable to. The 40+ minutes of _THoBW_ offer a nice selection of tracks, some of which are more straightforward and grab you instantly, whereas others need a few spins to click and contribute nicely to the longevity of this album. Faustcoven might not appeal to all the fools who believe that Hank Amarillo invented black metal, but what I hear is a surprisingly cool, very sinister, very intense and atmospheric debut record. With a few very minor flaws eliminated next time (the mastering could be louder, the drum sound a bit more up-front and punishing) and a similar leap in quality to that of _THoBW_ compared to the demos, my expectations aren't exactly low for the next album. Two full songs are available at the Barbarian Wrath website.

Contact: http://www.barbarianwrath.org

(article published 30/1/2004)

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