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An important historical item - 93%

Noktorn, January 30th, 2009

This DVD case release, out on L.O.N.'s own Ritual Execution Promotions, compiles two early Hellveto EPs onto a single disc. As a rather infrequent departure from the project's seemingly endless stream of LPs, this release gives a peek into the earlier years of the project, which illuminates a great deal of the artistic endeavor's progression over the years. This is certainly an essential item for Hellveto fans (but really, what of his isn't), though it won't have quite the weight for those less acquainted with the band's work. It's something of a curiosity piece, but the historical aspect of this item in no way manages to outshine the consistently great musical output of this project, and the songs on this CD are as worthwhile as any that have been turned out by the project.

Side one, 'Shadow Of The Blue', is a very unusual release which seems to be one of Hellveto's most obscure items. Comprised of only four tracks, it's a short but surprisingly powerful piece of music which actually weighs in as one of my favorite Hellveto works ever. The music on this EP is closest in tone to the 'In Arms Of Kurpian Phantom' LP with its higher emphasis on guitar and blistering intensity. It features a true oddity in the Hellveto catalog in the form of 'Rise Of The Sun In The Stutthof', a track almost entirely dominated by savage blast beats and tremolo riffs with chaotic yet always melodic orchestration over it; it's one of Hellveto's most ferocious works ever, and as a result, one of my personal favorite tracks by the project. The title track of the EP is a slower yet no less fulminating number, with a murky, seething drumline punctuating a rather severe orchestral score with tense pagan metal underpinnings. The two tracks balance each other quite well with the more calm intro and outro, making for a very complete, if short, release.

'My Eternal Hegemony' is a very different beast. Lacking the brutality of the first side, this material is more in line with 'Medieval Scream''s heavy folk influence and generally introspective tone. Less vast and sweeping than the previous entry on this release, it's more in line with what one would expect from the earliest Hellveto full-length works like 'Zemsta'. The emphasis here is certainly heavier on the orchestration, with heavy notes of Slavic folk and carefully picked guitar lines. In contrast with 'Shadow Of The Blue''s rather clear drum machine, the drums on this side appear to be human, with the varied, fill-laden style Hellveto is known for, and the same cracking snare and shimmering cymbal sounds that are a staple of the project's percussion.

'Shadow Of The Blue' is likely the stronger of the two, and seems to indicate a period in Hellveto's career when the project leaned more towards a more traditional orchestral black metal sound rather than the pagan material which has dominated much of the project's career. 'My Eternal Hegemony' resembles 'Medieval Scream' a little too much for me to really love it as much as some other Hellveto items, but I do certainly appreciate its qualities. The production on 'My Eternal Hegemony' seems unusually good, especially for this point in Hellveto's career, with a refined and churning bass sound granting a thundering quality to the music which makes it more than listenable, and gives a bit more body to the normally deemphasized drums. L.O.N.'s vocals are strong as ever on both releases, with raw screams intact and emotional as always.

While this is not an essential Hellveto release for those looking to get into the project, it's certainly a great historical piece for those with a more vested interest in the project. 'Shadow Of The Blue' is a masterful though short piece which demands attention, and 'My Eternal Hegemony' is hardly a slouch and ties up the back end of the disc nicely. Overall, another excellent Hellveto release which might otherwise be overlooked due to its curious nature.