Thursday, September 16, 2010

Beyond Mind-The Wrath of the Dead Tongue-76%

This is really strange. Seriously, am I tripping on something? Hailing all the way from New Zealand, Beyond Mind plays one of the most bizarre styles of black metal I've ever heard, with influences spanning from doom metal to "sick" black metal, and it shows. This vast number of influences makes for an odd style of music, but this doesn't necessarily make it good. "The Wrath of the Dead Tongue" will make the listener scratch his head with every listen, which is sometimes a good thing. However, there are quite a few flaws with this release; they don't make the album unlistenable, but they do make for a very difficult listening experience.

First of all, the lyrics are simply stunning for an unsigned band. NX throws all his emotions into the writing, and it shows. With lines that would make a grown man cry, this is easily the highest point of the album. One of the best examples of this is in the song "Caressed By Cold", where NX inscribes in the chilling wastes of ice, "Inside those walls of ice, whispers unheard. Footsteps of mine, carving new worlds. Stumbling in all, remains of the old." Magnificent. The vocals take these lyrics to a whole new level, as NX shrieks and screams his way through the cold mists of the morning, surrounding himself in an atmosphere of ear-splitting tracheal mayhem. The reverb on his vocals creates the impression that he's recording them in an icy cold basement of some sort, and it works well.

The guitars are another thing entirely. They have a nice, crisp tone, without being overly shrill (like raw black metal) or thick enough that it wouldn't fit the music (Dimmu Borgir). The riffing is mainly based around a central core of minor riffing, creating a hopeless and despairing atmosphere. My main praise for these 2 men is that they know how to use the reverb. They have just enough on the guitars that it forges an atmosphere worthy of hell, yet it does not sound like a mess of sound. With the acoustic guitar overtones, NX uses a fingerpicked style that is rather beautiful...that is, until the distorted guitars kick in again, and plunge the listener back into the icy worlds of depression and despair.

The bass is slightly audible. This was surprising to me, because most black metal bands either have no bass, or make the bass completely in the background. Nevertheless, the unmistakable thunk of the bass is there, and it adds to the atmosphere. The bass lines mostly follow the guitars, though there are a few parts where the bass shines more than normal. Props to Geyron for that.

Finally, the drums. Excellent job of programming by NX. Instead of the standard continuous blasts that we metalheads have come to know and love (err, should that be hate?) in black metal, NX forms the basis of his soundscape here. Mainly incorporating fast double bass lines or plodding doom metal drums, the echoey sound of the toms and the hard hitting snare draw the listener in like only a few micing jobs I've ever heard can do. "Caressed..." is most certainly the best track on the album for drums, with its hypnotizing kick pattern and roomy cymbal sound. Another high point on the album is the drums, for sure.

Now, with all these good parts, I'm sure the reader is asking, "But Symphonyxfan, why did you rate this album 76?" Well, I'm going to tell you, reader, and it may shock you to know that I rated this album as I did for one main reason: consistency. While songs like "Caressed By Cold" and "Descent" are very alike in genre (blackened doom), the rest of the EP is not so. "The Spiral of Withering" is influenced by black metal and drone, apparently. "Children of Ashes" has a very post-rock tone to it, along with its black metal roots. And with "Departure", the riffing has all been done before, and will make the listen reach for the skip button. Another complaint of mine is song length. Every song on this album, minus the intro and outro, is over 8 minutes long. They are all very repetitious, and not in a good way. There are no catchy choruses, no good hooks, and no extremely memorable moments.

In summary, the writing overall on this album is good. It's brutal and heavy and different, and it delivers. However, it could stand to be refined a good deal. Hopefully, with the next album, Beyond Mind will come back with a new slab of black metal that contains more memorable moments instead of straight up brutality all the way through.

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