The Ruins Of Beverast – Blood Vaults - The Blazing Gospel Of Heinrich Kramer - Gatefolded Blue vinyl 2-LP
Each of the 4 albums Alexander von Meilenwald has released over the past decade under the banner of The Ruins Of Beverast has seen some stylistic shift. With Unlock The Shrine he continued on from his Black Metal past in Nagelfar, growing more chaotic and textural with Rain Upon The Impure and more Doom-influenced with 2009's Foulest Semen Of A Sheltered Elite. If you have heard any of the chatter around this latest cut then you will probably be aware that the Doom side of von Meilenwald's musical alchemy has overtaken his Black Metal heritage, but this album defies any lazy genre categorisations. In fact, with tracks like “Ornaments On Malice” the sonic makeup of Kramer's gospel seems to draw as much on the dissonant style of Death Metal pioneered by Incantation as anything from the Doom realm. Inevitably by the fact this album sees the biggest change in the band's sound so far it feels less focused than its predecessors. Side by side comparisons between such vastly different albums would be illogical, but in some respects this album might be seen by long term fans as inferior because of its lessened focus, and von Meilenwald seems to still be finding his feet when it comes to certain elements like his demonic voiceovers.
But you know what? This is still of a high enough quality to be counted amongst the top extreme Metal albums of the year. When it comes to the keyboard passages and the dark psychedelic effects this is all recognisably The Ruins Of Beverast but there is also the aforementioned vast and towering dissonant Death Metal riffs, and a huge dose of early My Dying Bride that manifests not only musically but also in how this music has a transformative quality that mentally transports the listener to a darker medieval time. Key to this is how fully von Meilenwald embodies the character of Kramer, the writer of the 1486 treatise on witchcraft Malleus Maleficarum. Injecting a unifying theme over artwork and lyrics is one thing, and matching this with Gregorian chants and overall hauntingly Catholic feel to the music is another, but the mark of this being a true concept album is the characterisation. The speaking in tongues on “Daemon” is an early showing of this but it reaches its peak with the demented ramblings on the cinematic “Trial.”
In spite of the denseness of the theme and the avant-garde nature of some of the music, for example the almost danceable rhythms that mix intoxicatingly with the Encoffination-like crawling riffs of “Spires, The Wailing City”, what is most surprising about this album is how pleasing a listen it is. At nearly an hour and 20 minutes in length the power of this album to hold the listeners' attention for nearly the entire duration is incredible. Black Metal, Funeral Doom, Avant-Garde... whatever you want to label this album as it will not fit. Musically, artistically, lyrical this is a s unique as it gets in the Metal underground. In a league of its own. [9/10]
Release on 180gram blue vinyl in gatefold jacket.
Heavy printed innersleeves.