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Book of Black Earth is supposedly a blackened death metal band, but you wouldn't be able to tell by listening to this album, "The Cold Testament" While all the black metal elements are still there, the death metal seems to have been swapped out with cues from hardcore and/or metalcore bands - i.e. metalcore "singing", a breakdown, etc. Another reviewer called this album deathcore, I'd say it's more like "blackcore" or something along those lines.
I also agree that this isn't a great album by any means, but I'd say that it still has a quite a bit going for it. "Weight of the World" is a very strong opener that almost hits blackened death territory. It's got quite a good riff selection and conjures up a nice atmosphere of being trapped in a desolate icy wasteland, seeking out the old gods. After the distraction that is "Cross Contamination", we go back to that with "Antarctica" and "Irritating Spectre". The rest of the tracks veer off into a black metal and metalcore hybrid, which completely disrupts the follow that the first half of the album maintained. There are a few more good moments on the second half, such as the interlude in "Research and Destroy" and the intro to "I See Demons", but they are only moments. Substituting metalcore elements into these songs mainly distracts the listener instead of adding to the music.
In the end, I'm confused about what kind of sound this band wanted to present on this album. Is this supposed to be blackened death metal, blackcore, both, or neither? Individually, the songs are all solid in their respective genre, but they make no sense mixed together as they are. I would like to rate this higher, but can't.
Book of Black Earth is one of those bands I did a little research on before writing this piece, and I can honestly say that the sophomore jinx missed the mark by one album. From the band’s debut in The Feast into Horoskopus to the current The Cold Testament the lack of vision is severely evident. This rides the borders of absolute deathcore, nothing more.
Instead of taking the sonic visuals created on The Feast and running with that, the dense peripheral distractions of fame and trends are all over this album. Further, the minute I heard a LONG voice over during “Termination” I pretty much lost interest. I’m sick to my core of bands implementing these ridiculous, unnecessary devices in vain attempts to validate the message of the song. This isn’t a Spielberg movie; we can find our own way to the end, thanks. Play the music, let that stand on its merits or give up the ghost! Don’t assume the audience is stupid or steeped in surface intellect that we need further evidence of your lyrical intent.
Okay, as for the music (aside from my already obvious issues) it’s okay if you enjoy a ‘more-of-the-same’ feel to your deathcore. How this gets a ‘blackened death’ tag is beyond me, but okay...play fast and loose with the rules if you must. The drums are really the lowest common denominator throughout, often appearing uninspired and lackadaisical in spots. The vocals are oh-so-typical of what you’d hear in any mallcore band in any given state on any given day. It literally pains me to hear a band with such promise give in to pressures and trends, but it happens all too often these days. What might have been an otherwise empowering album is nothing more than a 15-year-old’s wet dream of ‘heavy metal’ to its most extreme point. I simply find nothing interesting or resonating here at all; some of the guitar riffs had promise but lending itself to such pretention is an unavoidable direction from the very onset. The “I See Demons” track is literally laughable at how pedestrian it begins and stagnates to a predictable degree on every level possible. These tracks are going to impress the youth, that’s for sure, yet it does not a damn thing for the true movement we so closely covet from disgustingly opaque influences like this.
I am not blowing smoke when I proclaim that this album is one of the most blueprint essays ever attached to heavy metal music and it pains me to think I wasted 35-minutes of my life having to find something positive to say about it so as not to totally defecate on it as a whole. Sadly, I can only compliment them on playing in tune and constructing music properly by design if nowhere near proper in integrity.
(Originally written for www.MetalPsalter.com)
I actually was very hyped about this album when I first heard it was coming out. . . . man if I had known how much of a letdown it would've been then I wouldn't have wasted money paying for it on iTunes. They really did a banged up job producing some good atmospheric and doomy blackened death metal. I mean they really failed. It sucks because I really liked their first two albums very much and their debut album reminded me of Belphegor a little. Now they remind me of the reason most people hate deathcore. Okay maybe I'm being a bit harsh.
The drums are boring and lackluster as compared to before where they were just simply Belphegor-like blast beat abuse, which actually worked well with the music. They are hardly even worth mentioning. The guitars and bass tones are very good, though, and I actually thought that it was produced and mixed well. The same can't be said for the actual riffs themselves, though, as they are boring enough to kill a small cow instantaneously. The vocals, which I saved for last, are the proverbial nails on a chalkboard to me, like seriously they are by far the worst part of this entire album. The vocals switch between some half-ass attempt at a death growl and then I guess the vocalist runs out of breath or something and then it sounds like a really forced and shitty thrash metal shout. Also the vocal layering is poorly attempted and adds to the already annoying regular vocals. Sorry, you aren't Glen Benton nor are you Nergal, don't layer vocals if you can't do it right. I don't know what happened there, but they need to kick this guy to the curb and get somebody else to do it. He sounded fine on the first two albums, he certainly isn't the best extreme vocalist, but he certainly got the job done. Here it's just like he put the mic to his ass and farted. Overall, I give this album a 60, and that's being generous.