Album Title: Rising From Below the Earth
Label: Barbarian Wrath
This is the second album from Faustcoven, a Norwegian band playing black/death metal.
The production on this record is deeply murky, with echoing vocals buried beneath a thick layer of fuzzed-out guitars and distorted bass. The drums are audible, but sound a bit distant, as if they hesitate to distract too much from the atmosphere. And what an atmosphere it is! I've rarely encountered an album that's as well-matched by its production.
Faustcoven's last record was slow black metal, but I'd call this one doom/death metal, with just a touch of the first-wave black metal sound they had before. Well, it's extremely heavy METAL, whatever you want to call it! The echo-laden vocals remind me of Necros Christos, but the instrumentation is 100% unique -- this band eschews speed and conventional notions of catchiness in favor of layered, doomy riffs and a twisted sense of oblique melody. The atomsphere of lumbering, oppressive, inevitable death on this record is sublime, a great combination for the deeply Satanic lyrics. Thus, "At Night They Rise From Below the Earth", an eleven-minute dirge with lyrics which conjure a Lovecraftian atmosphere of hopelessness and forbidden knowledge, is the perfect opening track for this record. "In The Court of Severe Judgement" is the perfect closer, too, and is one of the few tracks I've ever heard that shatters the lie of Christianity using nothing but its own debased terms. Between the two lie battle, zombies, the winged messenger of Hell, an encrypted tribute to good whisky, and an excellent cover of Angel Witch's classic "Baphomet", among others -- what more can you ask for?
Intelligent lyrics, unique riffs, excellent cover & booket artwork, and over an hour of atmospheric immersion make "Rising From Below the Earth" a strong contender for best-of-2008. Those who like bassy, mid-paced metal will be well-pleased by this one; I love both, so this record earns my highest recommendations.
Standout Tracks: "At Night They Rise From Below the Earth", "Barbarian Assault", "Onward to the Bloodfields", "In The Court of Severe Judgement"