Album Title: Inheritance of Evilness
Label: Barbarian Wrath
This is the first album from Hail, a band from Finland that plays sludgy black metal.
The guitar work on this album ranges from doomy droning to occasional sharp leads. The drumming is simple, yet crisp and clean. The vocals are especially great: deep, vomited snarls with a touch of reverb. Screamed vocals make an occasional appearance, as well. One interesting thing about Hail is that they sometimes use extended guitar notes the way other bands use synth, floating it in the background during the breaks. You don't hear this style very often, but it's always neat when a band can pull it off.
"Inheritance of Evilness" rarely exceeds mid-paced speed. The obvious comparison points for this sort of slow black metal are Beherit and Varathron, and in fact, there's a Varathron cover on this album. That said, Hail's songwriting is more than original enough to put them apart from their influences. For example, "Earth's Historical Might Inheritance Prophecy" starts with one chunky guitar line and builds from there, varying the theme as the song works its way through frequent breaks. The theme becomes increasingly frantic as time goes on, building up suspense. The variety here is such that it's easy to forget that this is a sixteen-minute song.
The other songs are of equally high quality. "Let the Wolves Lead You to Satan's Glory" starts off with one of the most memorable spoken-word intros I've ever heard, and then goes from there into a opening number that alternates between mid-paced and doomy sections. The main riff of "War Must Go On" is triumphant and distinctive. It gives way to an almost thrashy middle section before returning to finish the song. The Varathron cover, "Unholy Funeral", sounds great. It also goes well with the rest of the album, which is always nice to see in a cover song. "Black Death Metal Warrior" has some especially cool vocal work extolling the virtues of the mindful metal life. "Barbaryan (Finland)" combines counterpoint riffing with echoing vocals, to powerful effect.
This is one of the best albums from 2003. It was a real surprise for me, since I hadn't heard this band before, but in the year since it came out, this one has become one of my favorites. There isn't much out there that sounds like this, and that alone makes it worth picking up. Add in Hail's considerable quality and repeat listenability, and you've got a must-buy album. Highly recommended.
Standout Tracks: "Earth's Historical Might Inheritance Prophecy", "Black Death Metal Warrior", "Barbaryan (Finland)"