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Blackdeath - Phantasmhassgorie - 93%

Edmund Sackbauer, September 9th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2019, CD, Heidens Hart Records (Digipak, Limited edition)

I came to appreciate Russian black metal (and Russian metal in general) over the past few years. The scene seems to be huge and still growing and while there are a lot of pretty average bands the best of them can firmly stand beside the better-known names of the genre. One such band I only recently discovered is Blackdeath. Although the two brothers Para Bellum and Abysslooker and their female drummer Maya might only be known to very dedicated followers of the genre they have been putting out material for more than two decades. This album with the sonorous name “Phantasmhassgorie” is full length number nine and if nothing else a very fine and highly professional example of raw and old school black metal.

Like more or less each metal genre having its origins way back in the eighties there is little room left for innovation and not much new territory that can be discovered on the black metal world map. There is a reason why some bands made big waves back then (and still keep making) and have gained a lot of followers over the past decades. Blackdeath are clever enough to pay tribute to some of the big names and chose a quite conservative approach of taking all the well-known single pieces putting them back together and enhancing them with a little bit of their own DNA to create something that sounds familiar but fresh at the same time.

The classic tremolo lines are in full force and there are a lot of the typical epic and often melancholic melodies that we all know from the Scandinavian bands of the second wave of black metal. The overall sound is more akin to the minimalistic and raw approach that used to define black metal in the beginning but there are also some bits that have a more laid-back and less adventurous feeling. Atmosphere is something that is important for each black metal outfit but Blackdeath have put in additional effort to make sure that “Phantasmhassgorie” presents an eerie and gloomy trip through dark soundscapes going to haunt the listener even once the record is finished.

The drumming is often very fast but there are enough sections in which the tempo is slowed down to give the listener a chance to breathe and enjoy the moody moments. Don’t get me wrong – this is still some hefty and aggressive metal music but you can clearly see that the members of Blackdeath have put a lot of emphasis on writing nicely flowing songs with a lot of atmosphere. Things never get too hectic or chaotic and even in the speedier parts there are clearly identifiable patterns making the music even more enjoyable. The lead harmonies constantly dwelling in the background serve as melodic counterpart to the riff attacks and the blast-beat sections. There are several disharmonic structures implemented in the songs but nothing that would make the music difficult to enjoy.

The vocals are nasty and snarling fitting the instrumentation like a glove. The production is great with the right balance between rawness and clarity making each detail audible without burying anything in the mix. Overall “Phantasmhassgorie” is a great album and given that this band has been around for so long they for sure have the right to sound as they do and stay true to their roots.