Germany's Nagelfar, that had debuted with
Hunengrab im Herbst (1997),
experimented with progressive and epic forms of black metal that mixed
Scandinavian frenzied gothic with both acoustic and symphonic (electronic)
passages on Srontgorrth (1999).
Their third album Virus West (2001), without the original shrieking vocalist and a less diverse sonic mix, was more refined but less emotional.
Nagelfar's drummer Alexander von Meilenwald launched the
Ruins Of Beverast
to further explore the darkest aspects of Nagelfar's sound.
Unlock The Shrine (Van, 2004) already represented a peak of horror,
starting with the simple, slow-paced, nine-minute threnody of
Between Bronze Walls and the equally solemn 11-minute The Clockhand's Groaning Circles
and peaking with the
melodramatic centerpieces: Euphoria When The Bombs Fell, that alternates between feverish blastbeats and majestic pace, ending with a-cappella convent singing;
eight-minute Summer Decapitation Ritual,
a symphonic nightmare at breakneck speed that
decays into martial medieval court music and then spins out of control
into an epileptic swirling finale.
The suspenseful cryptic sounds of the shorter Skeleton Coast and God Sent No Sign help keep the mood beyond macabre.
Meilenwald can then indulge in extenuating expressionistic pieces such as the
nine-minute Unlock The Shrine and the
12-minute The Mine
in which the tension mounts slowly until it starts growing exponentially.
The ambient doom-black dirges of
Rain Upon The Impure (Van, 2006) stood as
one of the most nightmarish moments in the history of the gothic rock.
After the brief collage of musique concrete White Abyss,
the 13-minute 50 Forts Along The Rhine unleashes a
wall of noise at supersonic rhythm
that, after five minutes, morphs into a choir of droning monk chants;
then the distorted groaning vocals rise from a marsh of repetitive riffs
and intone a macabre hymn, soon dynamited by an explosion of blastbeats and
hysterical riffs ending in a militaristic melodrama.
The 16-minute Soliloquy Of The Stigmatised Shepherd begins slow,
heavy and gloomy, stoner-rock at its most gargantuan and requiem-like;
the second half is more alive, turning into a sort of psychedelic ballad,
and the ending is nebulous and cacophonic.
Another 16-minute juggernaut, Blood Vaults I (the first movement of
a longer work), also begins slow and magniloquent; the blastbeats pick up
(but keep coming back and forth) when a monk choir rises from inscrutable
depths; the esoteric ceremony proceeds in a confused noise of distorted riffs
and irregular polyrhythmic beats, ending with the sound of funeral bells.
A melodic "refrain" towers over the hypnotic, lulling guitar noise of
16-minute Soil Of The Incestuous, and, after a
blastbeat acceleration, restarts even more melodic and romantic.
This is the emotional centerpiece of the album, a rollercoaster of moods
and rhythms. At the eight minute mark the music seems to collapse, but
four minutes later it staged a frantic acceleration. The whole beast is
designed to tighten and release tension. At minute
14 there is one final recapitulation of the melodic leitmotiv but in a much
more macabre tone.
The 14-minute Rain Upon The Impure is raided by
symphonic and choral music over assorted musical scenarios, whether blastbeats
and riffs or rain and jungle tom-toms. One final rush of ferocious,
orgasmic blastbeats sounds like the nail in the coffin of an exhilarating
process of self-immolation.
Ruins Of Beverast's third album,
the much friendlier
Foulest Semen Of A Sheltered Elite (Van, 2009)
suffered instead of too many monotonous and repetitive moments.
Blood Vaults (2013) was even more disappointing.
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