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Anyone wanting an introduction into Blood Red Fog's substantial discography could do no worse than entering through this early EP. "Radiating Desolation" is a raw depressive affair long enough to be an album in its own right and featuring some excellent music with a rock'n'roll groove and a garage feel.
Initially opening track "King" is a lethargic beast that might have the more sensitive among you eyeing any nearby ropes and ties for longer than you had intended to but it soon acquires a rock'n'roll rhythm, an energetic lead guitar and gruff vocals to cheer you all up. The lyrics allude to the impermanence of power and might, of the transient nature of human civilisations and imperial arrogance. "Les Esprits Souffrants" is much more gritty black metal in style and texture, with catchy hooks both fast and slow, all piling on sheer heaviness and thick grime crust onto the riffs. The groaning vocals are hard to hear beneath all that thunder - howls of anguish and pain might be all most people can make out under the thudding drums and steely guitar chords. Of the four tracks on the EP, this one can be quite a contrast, alternating between punky fast and doomy slow, and together with spiky lead guitar melody and surprisingly hooky rhythms might be the stand-out track for a lot of listeners.
The title track continues in much the same way as previous tracks and nothing that didn't appear previously is included here. The drumming is very strong with a live feel. Not too much polishing was done in the studio when the album was being recorded and the raw quality of the music is a highlight of the song and the EP generally. "Departure" is a more sorrowful and despairing piece but again it's no great ... uh, departure from the rest of the recording in style and structure.
The music is good and consistent in execution if not really remarkable. While it's raw and basic in presentation, the texture is gritty and there's a ragged desperation, there's not much difference from one track to the next: yes, they are all varied but the variation turns out to be quite limited. What really stands out for me is the garage feel, the weary desperate attitude and the sense that the musicians are standing on the edge of an abyss and playing for their lives.
Fans of black metal can be quite judgmental; they are already predisposed to their likes and dislikes, but most fans are willing to listen to the occasional unknown black metal band from time to time, even if for only a minute. And if there’s one band I would recommend, it’s Blood Red Fog; but I would highly suggest starting with their EP Radiating Desolation before their self-titled debut album. Yet, if by chance a fan of black metal has stumbled across Blood Red Fog’s full-length, and despite their feelings of the album, I would still thoroughly stress the importance of listening to Blood Red Fog’s EP release. It’s a remarkable step for the band and the subgenre of depressive black metal in so many ways.
The production quality is still low-grade, as is to be expected with most depressive black metal bands, but it’s still an earnest effort and quite clean considering most albums in this subgenre. Unlike Blood Red Fog’s debut, this EP allows for parts to stand out far more defined . . . why, one can actually hear the bass and understand the vocalizations, though both are not without that dirty/gritty black metal feel. Yet, the musical details are clear.
If you listen hard enough, you might hear a word now and then, as incomprehensible as it may be, but most fans of black metal aren’t so concerned with lyrical content as much as the stylization of shriek-freaks. The lead singer of Blood Red Fog definitely has his own style, though it’s still in the same vain as most shrieking/growling depressive black metal bands, but his delivery definitely stands out. The vocals so accurately portray that existential dilemma most fans of metal, specifically black metal, and especially depressive black metal, are subject to. You can just feel that swallowing isolation dwelling within the reaches of hopelessness as your ears are enslaved to the shrieks of Blood Red Fog’s singer. Like their debut album, there’s a reverb/echo effect added to the vocals to help capture that complete and utter separation from the joys of life as its leaves you suspended in the remnants of your past pain and the pain you have yet to live. However, following in their own footsteps, Blood Red Fog is able to contradict the torment of the vocalization style with their musical abilities.
This EP is a definite improvement musically compared to their self-titled debut. Let me just state outright in a rather mocking manner that the band has been practicing; for, unlike their debut, this EP is relatively clean of any major musical errors. There’s the occasional staggering of tempos, but nothing anyone other than musicians are likely to spot. Overall the band is able to maintain their course and stick together as the songs switch gears and styles. An example of Blood Red Fog’s mastery of mixing styles can be found on the first track, King, which opens with a guitar solo—a rather twisted, soul shattering guitar solo over a simple, haunting guitar riff and drum beat—before immediately jumping into a blast-beat which then transcends into a rather groovy/jammy riff which has become Blood Red Fog’s trademark style. This track is a perfect example of what Blood Red Fog is capable of musically and gives a hint of their future. But it’s the last track, Departure, which is sure to impress and catch the ears of anyone willing to give Blood Red Fog a listen. As a fan of Blood Red Fog ever since their debut I have come to expect one thing and one thing only when listening to Blood Red Fog: a head-banging/toe-tapping good time . . . but grievously so, after all this is depressive black metal. So imagine my surprise when I actually found myself listening to the song Departure and was transfixed, motionless, to the melodies involved. I hate to use other bands as comparisons, but it’s so difficult to describe any black metal band these days without linking them someway or another to some other black metal band, as such I can honestly say that the only other depressive black metal band (project) which has been able to lock me into such a musical trance that I actually forget my surroundings is Thy Light. I cannot quite describe my feelings when I listen to the song Departure by Blood Red Fog, but I’m willing to bet that any fan of music can relate to that mystical sense of awe when a song tickles their ears so much that it actually vibrates their very soul. As such, if someone were to ask me which songs howl within my very soul, or lack thereof, I would definitely declare Departure as being one of those.
Without a doubt, I am very excited about Blood Red Fog’s future, and I long for more by this band. If you are a fan of depressive black metal or at least a fan of black metal and are willing to give said subgenre a listen, even if only for a minute, then I hope that you are fortunate enough to stumble across the EP Radiating Desolation by the enigmatic Blood Red Fog. It’s soul shattering.