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From the Land of a Thousand (Burning) Lakes - 80%

doomknocker, January 10th, 2015
Written based on this version: 1996, CD, Solistitium Records

Darkwoods My Betrothed's debut wasn't the kind of discography opener to really knock potential listeners for a loop, but as a whole it was a competent and slightly above average black/Viking metal noise-making. It was clear that the band was starting to formulate ideas on where they wanted to go on a musical level, even if the final output was rather uneven, a path that could only result in proper evolution as time progressed. And despite a lack of legit exposure and distribution from a label just starting to wet their feet in the extreme metal pond (as the packaging for "Heirs..." shows, it was Hammerheart's first pressing), a year or so later saw the band's sophomore creation come forth...

"Autumn Roars Thunder", much like :"Heirs...", doesn't go out of its way to shove past other black metal bands and albums in order to be noticed, nor does it make enough of a scene to be naturally gazed upon, but compared to "Heirs...", it's quite a ways more focused and inspired. Things start off, interestingly, with the album's longest and most dynamic track, with plenty of melody and moody ambience more In the Woods... than anything else that, strangely enough, isn't touched upon all that much as "Autumn..." continues on, for a single song later we're treated to a complete tonal shift to a more straight-up black metal barbarity. This ends up being the main cynosure for the entirety of the album, deviated every once and again for something slower and more grounded on a track-by-track basis ("When Ancient Spirits Battled" and "Hymn of the Darkwoods" shoot for the Viking technique/sound but in a more straightforward way, and acoustic guitars come and go to stir things up rather decently), but for the most part this is a far more blackened recording taking a couple more strides in the direction of their demo era versus the forest-dwelling feel of "Heirs...".

The production is powerful yet clear, with plenty of bite to the guitar tone and an interesting amount of oomph behind the bass lines (you can actually hear the bass!), and as before, the guitars and bass take center stage and craft far more insidiously evil riffs and progressions than the lyrical themes could possibly allow (the band was still maintaining their Odinist stance here despite the more seriously Satanic vibe the music contains) while the keyboard sections simply add their own level of depth and atmosphere, both dark and majestic. Drumming is a bit more jagged than before, with a few moments where raging blast beats are interrupted by a noticeable lull in tempo coming to pass, again showcasing a roughness and slight sloppiness in the overall product not being fixed up in the mixing process. Pasi's vocals are, for the most part, a more confident-sounding throaty demonic black rasp than the previously heard irritating wail (though it still pops up here and there, only with more body and spirit behind them) and that still silly-sounding drunken singing that doesn't fit the material as well as I'm sure he'd hoped for. But I guess them's the breaks?

In the end, this proved to be a better overall product than "Heirs of the Northstar" and a better Darkwoods... album overall, but it still couldn't do much to push the band's name any further from the black metal mid-card roster. One more album down the line would prove to be their undoing, unfortunately for them, before the forest was lost to the trees. It happens...

Good but not Great - 70%

Draconist, May 20th, 2004

Originally called “Virgin’s Cunt” this Finnish band formed in spring 1993. After the release of two demos, the band signed a record deal with Hammerheart Productions. Their debut album “Heirs of the Northstar”, released in 1995, was a combination of elaborate guitar playing, atmospheric keyboards, raw and clean vocals, its highlight being the 16-minute epic “Yggdrasill's Children Fall”.

“Autumn Roars Thunder” is the band’s second effort released by German label Solistitium Records in 1996. Production-wise the sound is great and the songs are long and epic. The album opens up slower than their debut, creating a hymn-like atmosphere, which precedes the faster tracks. When it comes to singing the vocals are varied, like in their previous material, between ordinary and typical black metal vocals plus occasional spoken parts. The raw vocals are unclear as usual, but this time there are more clean parts. Which isn’t a good sign! When it comes to reach clean high notes his voice wavers at the attempt and more often than not, ends up singing out of tune and at certain times this gets rather annoying. In general I think this is a good album with interesting guitar riffs but what I like most with this album are the thunderous drums and the keyboards, which at times give you barbarian-battlefield atmosphere. A standout track to watch out for is “Red Sky Over the Land of Fells”, which contains the best guitar riffs on this album and pleasant choir-like vocals.

Apart from the vocals only one thing still irritates me: the lyrics are almost illegible and why were they printed in a different order from the track listing?