Snowblood - _Being and Becoming_
(Superfli Records / Lawgiver Records, 2005)
by: James Montague (7 out of 10)
The band name screams Norwegian black metal. The album name screams indie rock. The reality falls somewhere in between, _Being and Becoming_ being the second full-length release by the Glaswegian quartet Snowblood, another band that's been lumped in the Isis stable by music fans craving easy labels. Having still not heard the most famous proponent of the style, I can't make an informed judgment of this categorisation; however, it is fair to say that _Being and Becoming_ blends the laidback and the crushingly heavy into a pleasing package. The album kicks off with an extremely gentle eight-minute piece of clean guitars and soft crooning, and the second track continues with more moody guitar strumming and a spoken-word musing on the futility of urban living, allowing the band to catch the first-time listener off guard when they eventually lurch into a thunderous, plodding doom riff accompanied by tortured screams.

The formula is applied for a few more songs, but just when you think you have Snowblood pinned, they produce "The Year of the Bastard", an eruption of blast beats and death metal fury. While the internal culture clash of this one-hour monstrosity of a CD may sometimes seem jarring, the group really do pull it all together for a stirring finale, the sixteen-minute "Black Stars Over Glasgow" being a marvelous epic of brooding intensity, followed by a beautiful coda entitled "Appearance".

_Being and Becoming_ does have its flaws, with some passages coming off as a little redundant; indeed, the entire song "Call Off the Search" could easily have been left on the cutting-room floor. While in that respect I'd like to see the band exercise some restraint in the future, I do hope they resist pressure from outside forces demanding that they choose between their indie rock and extreme metal leanings, because this unlikely marriage of styles has given birth to quite an impressive album.


(article published 27/9/2005)

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