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Celtic Black Metal! - 80%

chroniclesofchaos, June 3rd, 2007

This is the debut demo from the one-man project headed by Bleiddwn-y-Nos. Well, not quite man -- at a mere seventeen years of age, he is still considered a child, although you wouldn't think so. His demo encompasses three songs of not inconsiderable length straight from the Barbarian Wrath mould of Bathory worship, which proceeds at a rather sedate pace, with acoustic passages featuring strongly. He mixes clean (surprisingly decent for black metal) and snarled vocals -- but harsh vocals over acoustic passages simply doesn't work. A lot of the non-acoustic guitar playing incorporates riffs that are more heavy than black in character, and the transitions between the various sections could be smoother. The drumming (drum machine?) is kept to a minimum and is extremely simplistic. It suffices for now, but he will probably need to seek out the services of a full-time drummer in the future.

After being subjected to a deluge of Darkthrone / Cradle of Filth / Dimmu Borgir black, all of which have their merits, it's a pleasure to hear a project whose primary influence is the one who started it all. Good work and great to see that it is not just the isle to the west that can supply the world with Celtic black metal!

The demo can be downloaded from his website, together with an unsurprising choice of cover: "Enter the Eternal Fire".

A spectacular failure of rare proportions - 1%

VRR, June 2nd, 2007

There was a period in my life - I was about nine, I think - when I decided on a whim that I was an astronaut. Not that I wanted to be an astronaut, but that I already was one. I would run about with a glass bowl on my head and tell everybody that I was a spaceman journeying through the furthest reaches of a thus-far unknown galaxy. Being young and foolish and so very enthusiastic about the whole intergalactic affair, I don't think anybody had the heart to tell me otherwise.

After a time, this behaviour - like all innocent obsessions - started to get out of hand, and I was discovered trying to force the pet cat into an escape pod (washing machine). To exacurbate matters, NASA had been in touch and had offered me a position on the crew of their next mission, so impressed were they with the qualifications I had listed on my resume.

I was a somewhat precocious nine year old, if the truth be known.

It wasn't until I found myself seated at the control panel of a Voyager Class space rocket, plummeting threefold the speed of sound towards the inky black surface of the South Pacific that I think I fully comprehended the extent of my own hubris.

If you cannot see the relevance of that particular slice of anecdotal whimsy, then clearly you have never heard the sound that slips like an oily turd from the surface of an Arawn CD. Not if you took the music from one of those annoying greeting cards and dubbed over vocal samples from an old episode of Dallas would you even come close to approaching the sheer amateurish not-musicness of this recording. If this were a film, it would be made by Troma on a day they found themselves particularly short of cash. I struggle to offer any specific criticism of this album's content as it does it so well by itself. Just as you cannot offer objective criticism of the random strumming and caterwauling created by a toddler handed his first guitar, so too am I deprived of any starting point here. Quite simply, there is nothing...

...However, for the sake of getting this review published as a warning to real Metal fans I have been asked to bite the bullet and attempt an actual evaluation. Firstly: the production makes this stuff unlistenable. Not in a LLN way, not in a "necro" way - the earliest Darkthrone or Enslaved demo tapes are an excellent listen. This stuff has been piped - direct-line - into a pc soundcard and recorded in something like Audacity. This is not a recorded documentation of a band's hard work or inspiration. It is lazy opportunism that exploits modern technology in an attempt to smokescreen the blatent lack of anything resembling substance.

It even does this badly. The individual "sounds" are not mixed or levelled, and as a result sit apart in an incoherent stream of dislocated audio. The vocal performances will hopefully bring years of humiliation to the performer in the future. They are an abomination. I was embarrassed to listen to this turgid filth; the performer had better be too. Notes are barely attempted let alone hit with any precision. The "black" vocals are achieved by standing too close to the mic and affecting something equivalent to a Mr Bean impression.

Riffs are rock-based and instantly-forgettable. There are no metal elements to speak of here at all. Folk inserts are inoffensive though uninspired and poorly recorded. I don't know if there is an antonym for the word "seamless", but if there is it perfectly describes the transition between the "heavy" and the "folk" sections. The cut-'n'-paste recording technique is shockingly obvious.

There is no real reason for this album's existence. The sound is recorded as an afterthought to the true purpose of someone wanting to pretend they are a rock star. Sadly, this "artiste" seems to take part in that sickening practice of online self-congratulation that adolescent musical inepts seem to enjoy nowadays. The ability to advertise your own jewelcase-worth of malformed tripe with a minimum of effort appeals to the sort of individual who will autograph a "limited-to-fifteen-copies" Cd-r. We can excuse the artist for his youthful arrogance, but his inability to realise that this recording is anything other than unsellable juvenilia that will one day haunt him by its very excruciating existence is unpardonable.

It may seem harmless and "fun" but items such as this undermine the credibility of metal as a worthy form of expression and insulr the record buyer. Do not consider for a moment that any praise this release may (and almost certainly will) acquire online has been earned. It hasn't. It is one thing to get your chatroom buddies to slap a high 80% score onto a review for you, but the real world is something different. The real world is something like this review.

Producing an album of non-descript mediocrity may prove to be a lifetime's worth of hard work for Arawn.

Terrible, terrible, and thrice terrible.