About 10 days ago we included two advance songs by the Cleveland melodic black metal band Burial Oath in one of our SHADES OF BLACK collections, and now it’s our pleasure to bring you a full stream of the debut album that houses those two, and six others. The album is Beyond the Vale of Shadowlands, and it will be released on April 7.
By way of introduction, I’m going to repeat what I wrote about those two advance tracks, and then add a few thoughts about the balance of this very multifaceted album.
In its slower movements, “Womb of Cosmic Bane“, which closes the album, is as pestilential and morbid as a city laid waste by the black plague. The beat of the tom drum booms in your ears, a wraithlike melody surfaces and submerges and begins burrowing under your skin, a ghastly vocal horror claws at your throat. And when the pace accelerates, the music becomes a romping demonic frenzy.
“Sol Av Svart”, which is the album’s fourth track in the running order, is a racing war charge right from the start, but a highly infectious, hard-jabbing riff enters the picture, too. Burial Oath slow this one down in the middle, bringing the stench of death with them when they do, but end it with a high-octane reprise of the barbarous opening sections.
When I heard those two songs, I summed up the music as “sulfurous”, with “a lot of primal, savage appeal, and hook-laden riffs” that pull the listener back repeatedly. And while that’s true, I now know there’s a lot more going on in the album than primal savagery.
Burial Oath incorporate ingredients from beyond the vale of black metal, and while the dominant melodic currents in the album are dark and often sorrowing, they very effectively change the moods and the intensity of the music so that the album maintains a firm grip from start to finish.
“A Graven Wintertide” is an atmospheric track, a song of frost and fire, with an air of defeated majesty in its melancholy melody and fierce, pulse-pounding urgency in its surges of racing power, while “Coffin Nails” is anchored by a big, swaggering riff and a rocking back-beat.
“Transcendent Void” storms and crushes, intensely vibrant and head-hammering throughout, while the dark and dire, and mainly mid-paced, “Deathymn” thunders and stomps with lethal physicality.
And the penultimate title track proves to be an enthralling instrumental, one that includes vibrant acoustic guitar as well as electrifying tremolo riffs, with bursts of double-bass militarism and booming toms to ratchet the explosiveness of a piece that’s also dramatic, slow, and bereaved.
The instrumental performances on the album are quite accomplished, with a warm bass pulse that’s prominent in the mix and impressive drum work to complete the rhythm section, and a knack for crafting guitar melodies and riffs that are both memorable and headbang-worthy.
So yes, the music is sulfurous and savage, but its ferocity is more than matched by the appeal of its dark melodies and the dynamism of its rhythms and energies. It’s well worth a full immersion in these sonic shadowlands that Burial Oath have created — and you can do that below.
You can also pre-order on CD or digital at Bandcamp:
Burial Oath on Facebook: