“Darkness fell on the village. The night scattered silver stars across the sky shining with blackness. Harvest Night. The Night of the harvest of souls. Among the stellar myriad, one of the stars is the brightest One. The One that is the essence. The One which is the key. The One which is the Lord of the harvest of souls. On the waves of steppe grasses They wander without haste. Those whose will is the Star. Those whose blood is the Star’s light. Whose eyes keep its reflection. Whose ghostlike flesh will reap some primitive lives. The sickle is raised to reap. It is the Harvest Night!”
Those words are the backdrop fashioned by the multi-national trio Burnt Offering to the song we’re premiering today from their debut album Harvest (“Жатва”), which will jointly be released by Casus Belli Musica and Beverina on August 20th. Those words, and the song, also channel the inspiration of the band members Nameless Enemy, Blind Idiot God, and Asbath (from Darkestrah) to pay tribute to the raw archaic black of the early ’90s Scandinavian scene, and early Ukrainian black metal groups such as Astrofaes — a time “when Black Metal was a source of terror and sorcery”.
As the band further explain: “The world of this album represents poisoned wells and abandoned villages, covert zealousness and ancient Evil lurking and waiting in the wings among the slumbering burial mounds from the very beginning of the primordial world, and till the time of the end, when the Wheel stops its turning”.
Even without such descriptions, “Harvest Night” would spawn unsettling visions of ancient evil stalking huddled encampments of fearful humans struggling to survive in an old world that cared little for them. It’s a dynamic and multi-faceted musical narrative, but never less than chilling.
Whistling winds and uneasy discordant notes lead into clobbering drum beats, moaning bass tones, and cold, grim, dismal chords. So many changes follow from that beginning, but the first is a sudden explosion — a flurry of manic drum assaults and blazing, berserker riffing. The vocalist himself shrieks like his larynx is on fire. And then the music changes again, adopting a skipping cadence and presenting music of whirling, whirring intensity. It feels almost like a dance, except the music is beleaguered in its mood, and that mood soon becomes distraught to the point of derangement. It’s a feelings that’s both cruel and despondent.
But the music changes again, moving in plodding beats and downcast chords. Yet there’s still more to come, as a militaristic snare pattern signals an effusion of double-bass pummeling, skull-cracking beats, dense waves of blaring guitar discordance, and inflamed yells. Fear and insanity seem to flood through those swarming and searing sensations, until the music ebbs again into gloom (though the drumming continues to burst into seizure-like frenzies).
Casus Belli Musica and Beverina will present Harvest digitally, as well as on vinyl and CD, on August 20. All editions are available for pre-order now. And we’re also including a stream of the previously released opening track from the album, “Всесожжение (Burnt Offering)“.