Old Wainds-Where the Snows are Never Gone
Negative Existence 2011
Time to get out Andy's guide to heavy metal folks. Does the band have an unreadable logo? Check. Bleak album cover? Check. Song titles like "Unholy Nordland Fire" and "Eternal Wanderer of Winter Nights"? Check. And finally do the band members have nicknames? Check. If you've answered yes to all these questions then chances are pretty good that your looking at black metal. Russia's Old Wainds have been around since 1995 and Where the Snows are Never Gone was originally released in 1997 under the title "Здесь никогда не сходят снега ". From what I've been able to gather this was originally a demo and has been released in various shapes and forms over the years. It certainly sounds like a demo. Beyond that I'm not sure where to begin with this. For fan's of Old Wainds this release has been hailed a masterpiece. Well, I'm not so sure about that so don't burn effigies of me black metal fans. First things first Kholdogor (aka Tresmegist) vocals are rather monotonous. The whole time I was listening to this I just wanted to offer him a cough drop. Now don't get all "you don't know crap Andy because all black metal and death metal vocalists have that same style". This is finger nails on the chalkboard territory. The music? Well it's supposed to be as bleak and cold as a Russian winter. Instead I found it one long blur with very little to set apart individual songs. Being black metal does not have to mean you play the same cords over and over again in a blinding sea of feedback. The promo compares this to "MAYHEM, BURZUM, ENSLAVED, DARKTHRONE, BATHORY with an added touch of old school Death/Thrash". Man I have no idea who penned that. I would certainly take offense with the last part. Aside from parts of "Where the Snows Are Never Gone..." this was bleak black metal like Frost. While there are parts of this that scream "PLAY SOMETHING DIFFERENT" already what really did me in was the one dimensional drumming of Izbor. I was having visions of The Dave Clark Five as he beat on what sounded like a large plastic bucket. Unless I fell asleep somewhere along the way the only cut that appealed to me was the album's closing number "Cold Mourning of the Pale Moon" and that was because it was more of a dirge that anything else. Maybe the fact that this was put out almost 14 years ago has something to do with it's crusty and dusty old sound. For better or worse (better in my mind) black metal has evolved past the need to sound like a bunch of cave dwellers trying to deconstruct Black Sabbath. I'll take my black metal like I take my coffee-black and strong. I want to be pulled in and dragged down. I want to close my eyes and envision a post apocalyptic wasteland. What I don't want though is to be reminded of my early years of marriage when we lived under this hair pulling, 3 cord "metal" band that played the same song every night for months on end! I never, ever want to be reminded of that but thanks to this release I know what nightmare visions will be haunting me later tonight!