The Montreal black metal band Gevurah made deep and lasting impressions in these quarters with their 2013 debut EP Necheshirion (discussed here) and their 2015 two-song demo Dialogue of Broken Stars (reviewed here). In less than 10 days the band’s stupendous debut album Hallelujah! will be released by Profound Lore Records, and we bring you the chance to hear all of it today.
The album is the creation of multi-instrumentalist/vocalist/songwriter X.T. (who also recorded and mixed the album) and guitarist/bassist A.L. It consists of seven tracks and more than 60 minutes of music. As described by the band, “Hallelujah! is a seven-step spiritual journey of Alchemical transformation, through the death and rebirth of the Self as a pure entity of praise, a vessel for the powers beyond. It is an exhalation of worship, a humbling vow of unwavering devotion to the Lord of unbound Light.”
The word “Hallelujah” is a transliteration of a Hebrew word (which itself appears as the title to the seventh track) composed of two elements, one meaning an exhortation of others to give praise and the second meaning the name of God. And the album is unquestionably a spiritual work of praise — but it repeatedly turns conventional meanings on their head (or transmutes them), for this is an exaltation of the adversary, he who resists.
There may be a more overpoweringly intense album than Hallelujah! released this year, but I doubt it. The music vividly summons the terrifying majesty and ominous power of the fallen angel; it’s unrelenting in its pitch-black darkness and its devotion to the fierce power of chaos.
Much of the time the music seems to emanate from within a hurricane, exploding in a maelstrom of sand-blasting riffs, with percussive assaults that sound convincingly like thunder and a rapidly pulsing bass that beats like a frenzied leviathan heart. The accompanying vocal melee is equally intense, with deep roars and wrenching howls and yells that seem to straddle an intersection between anguish and fury. It’s not hard too imagine the lyrics being inscribed with a flaming scimitar across a storming sky.
This isn’t primitive, bestial black metal despite the force of its onslaught. It’s dense, intricate music, almost experimental in its approach at times, and the spiritual, ritualistic core of the album’s conception is never far from the surface.
Deep chants can be heard. Pealing chords seem to chime like bells. Unsettling ambient sounds that bring some songs to a close conjure images of a vast and heartless cosmos. Bleak, doomed melodies flow through the maelstroms like rivers of blood. Unhinged savagery is tempered with funereal processionals. Unearthly arpeggios and persistently dissonant chords convey the presence of something alien and beyond full understanding. On the instrumental track “Lifting the Veils of Da’at”, the tension builds toward a heavy, abrasive conclusion with the melody carried in harmony with the guitar by something that resembles a trumpet or saxophone.
The album is one of those clearly meant to be heard straight through. You listen to it in that way, and it has a dramatic effect. The last two songs in particular are capable of carrying your mind far away. Both of them are very long, yet they don’t drag.
“Dies Irae — Lacrimosa” (which seems to refer to weeping on the day of wrath) holds the most penetrating and gripping guitar melodies on the album; they burn themselves into the mind. And the nearly 20-minute-long title track (“הַלְּלוּיָהּ”) moves from particularly savage storming to funeral marches and back again; the middle of the song includes male choral voices singing a solemn Latin hymn (perhaps “Dies Irae”?) over soft organ chords. It’s a beautiful, reverential interlude that again brings the album’s spiritual core to the surface in the most direct way, followed by a surge of bleak, storming savagery — a final reminder that the object of exaltation and praise is the lord of chaos.
Gevurah have already made a name for themselves in the black metal underground, but this album will write their name in large, bold letters. It’s staggeringly powerful, intricately plotted and given deep textures in ways that are uncommon. Well worth your time.
Hallelujah! features striking cover art by Denis Forkas Kostromitin and design by Chimere Noire. The album was recorded and mixed by Gevurah’s multi-instrumentalist/vocalist X.T. in his Studio Tehom and was mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege.
Hallelujah! will be released on June 3 on CD as well as digitally, and a double-vinyl edition should be available in July. Order from Profound Lore here.
UPDATE: The album is now out, and so I’m adding the Bandcamp stream below.