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Every now and then, I encounter an album that I listen to so frequently that it becomes iconic of a certain period in my life. Nelly’s rap album Country Grammar will always bring me back to Track and Field practice at my grade school. Slipknot’s Vol. 3 will always remind me of transitioning from middle school to high school. Graveland’s Thousand Swords is always going to be the album that served as a perfect otherworldly escape when my mother was suffering from cancer. This past winter break has yielded the newest addition to my list of iconic albums: Hirilorn’s Legends of Evil and Eternal Death, a beautiful piece of black metal art.
Before the great Deathspell Omega existed and progressed black metal into unforeseen realms of avant-garde genius, a few of the DSO members played in the short-lived and still underground Hirilorn. Honestly, I’m shocked that this band is not more widely-known. Since being introduced to them a few months back, I have been blown away by the sheer quality of their music. After spouting one of the greatest demos I’ve ever heard (A Hymn to the Ancient Souls), Hirlorn returned in 1998 to deliver their only full-length album, Legends of Evil and Eternal Death.
Don’t let the four tracks deceive you into believing this is an EP. The songs are epics, lasting between 12-17 minutes apiece. When I say “epic,” I mean it in every sense of the word. Admirably, Hirilorn never resorts to cheesy synths and overbearing orchestral breaks to achieve this epic feeling. Rather, they craft beautiful atmospheres with the tastefully used ambient keyboards, poetic and fantastical lyrics, and unbelievable guitar melodies. Oh my god, the lead guitar... While everything else (the rhythm guitar, drums, vocals, aforementioned keyboards and lyrics) are all extremely well-done and add their own important elements to the overall package, nothing trounces the melodic leads. Honestly, they could be the most beautiful melodies I have heard in metal music, even surpassing my prior favorites that existed within Dissection’s two masterpieces The Somberlain and Storm of the Light’s Bane.
I do not want to give the impression that the leads are the only aspect worth mentioning. 10:27 into Through the Moonless Night breaks into a frenetic black metal riff devoid of any real melody but perfectly heavy and memorable nonetheless. I’m hard-pressed to not headbang every time this moment occurs. Legends of Evil and Eternal Death is full of these moments. Unconventional song structures allow for plenty of softer asides and newly introduced riffs and melodies. Luckily, the songs never get lost in the constant change and tend to return to previously introduced riffs and melodies, successfully making the songs distinct from each other.
If I have not made it clear by now, let me do so. Listen to this album! With it’s unique melodies and overall epic atmosphere, Legends of Evil and Eternal Death has solidified its place amongst the greatest albums I have ever encountered. While I obviously cannot guarantee that this will become an iconic album in other people’s lives, I feel confident enough in it’s quality to deem it one of the greats in the black metal genre. Hirilorn’s masterpiece should grace the ears of every extreme metal fan at some point in their lives.
Originally written for webzine/fanzine: http://grampspantheon.wordpress.com/