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Save the trees, brethren. - 88%

ScarletDais, November 30th, 2011

Blood of the Black Owl is the brainchild of Chet W. Scott, who is responsible for all vocals and instrumentation, from guitars and drums to flutes and ocarinas, on this disc of his signature blackened folk-doom.

The music on Chet's self-titled second album, if music it may be called, does tend to be very repetitive and is much heavier on instrumentals than even it's successor, A Feral Spirit. It can get tedious fast, but just when you're about to hit the Stop button, Mr. Scott changes it up, sometimes slightly, sometimes blatantly. For example, the wolf howls and rain between "Kills In Timber" and "The Thunderous Hooves of Two Goats In the Sky" are enough to have me engulfed from that point forward. Sometimes a flute-driven interlude abruptly bursts back into blaring doom-drone, and sometimes ominous drums enter, or a random vocal outburst breaks the tide of sorrow with a quip of despair. If it's any consolation, you'll be too depressed to be bored.

Blood of the Black Owl is a 7-track journey through the forest of decrepitude. This record honestly scares me much more than the most brutal of Anaal Nathrakh cuts. It's an experience of what humanity's progress has done to nature and our spirits. It's a trip of pain, hopelessness, and a slow-churning fury. The guitars are loud and fuzzy like they're straining the limits of an amp overgrown with moss. The slow, ritualistic drums are darkly eerie, and the few vocals are shrouded and unintelligible groans and yells. If you, as I did, listen to the echoing drums at the end of "Uwwalo" while watching the last shreds of sunset disappear, I guarantee you will get a deep feeling of dread, like you'll never see that sun again.

It's appallingly creepy, listening to a song called "Like a Coffin Chasing the Womb, His Chariot Becomes a Southern Bloodstorm". The buzzing of amps, the apocalyptic drumming, and the incessant drone will drive you insane with anxiety. Even the slower, more melodic movements only add to the suspense. Much like with BotBo's fellow Washingtonians Wolves In the Throne Room, you know in your gut that the frightening sounds will return as soon as the calming guitar and lulling flute start to die down...The fear factor climaxes during "Hammer Comes Crashing Down," where Chet's screams over the bleak bass sound like the death-cries of a lone orc deep in an abandoned Cirith Ungol.

All in all, Blood of the Black Owl does nature and the spirits a great favor. He gives them a powerful and destructive voice that resonates, quite literally. I got a splitting headache from listening to this album, and I'm not quite sure that wasn't the point. Chet speaks for the earth and apparently feels every pang of its moaning, rumbling agony. His ambience will send a chill down your spine like ivy climbing over cold stone and his throat makes noises that will haunt your very soul. Some say the trees speak...imagine if they screamed.

-originally written for www.sputnikmusic.com

Likeable if repetitive funereal doom BM debut - 70%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, February 18th, 2008

At first I didn't think this self-titled album had a lot to offer - it's mostly repetitve and straightforward minimalist funereal doom BM - but after a few repeated hearings I found it quite likeable. The music is all instrumental with very faint background vocals (which are all treated with echo anyway) and is often quite epic and expansive though at times monotonous. Thing with this recording is, if the main riff or melody is strong and memorable or has something distinct about it, then it sets the tone for the rest of its track and any variations and additions to it are like icing on the cake, and this is the case with the second track "The thunderous hooves of two goats in the sky" (a clear reference to the Norse god Thor taking his regular ride around the heavens) in particular. On the other hand, if the melody is ordinary then the whole track is affected and sinks into plod-plod elephantine territory and only changes in key or a passage of ambient mist can save the song by pushing it into a new direction or phase. All tracks here are very repetitive with one dominant riff that continues more or less all the way through with slight changes in melody or use of effects or change of key, and sometimes the most interesting thing about particular tracks is not the music itself but its surrounding ambience such as the use of reverb and spacey effects to create a sense of desolation or emphasise a particular mood. Often it's the vocals themselves, distant though they are on some pieces, that are the most interesting as they are nearly always howling or groaning or muttering in some way while their owner is lost deep down in an underground cavern.

Best tracks include the aforementioned "The thunderous hooves of two goats ..." for that urgent driving riff; the crawling deep 'n' doomy groanfest "Drinking the blood of a lion"; and "Uwwalo" mainly for the later section that has the trancey tribalistic drum rhythm over which echoing voices in existential agony float in and out of the thick black ether - apart from this, the track in its entirety is fairly average for the album: not really outstanding but not quite so lumbering as some of the other tracks (tracks 4, 6 and 7). Though even the lesser songs on this album at least share in the deranged and almost cartoony vocals and the guitars throughout the recording have a good strong and steely sound that is gritty in feel and gives the impression of a pitiless and impenetrable presence. Track 7 "A covern of vultures" includes a long ambient acoustic section which lifts the interest level a bit but again this is a repetitive bit that almost outstays its welcome.

This is an ambitious stab at creating an epic, almost movie soundtrack slab of funereal doom black metal soundscapes with just the basic essential elements of black metal music structure, to which ambient influences and even some spoken-word field recordings (track 6 "Hammer comes crashing down") are added for depth and variation, and though I think the quality of the recording is uneven and the repetition can be never-ending, my impression is that there is potential for building and improving on this particular style of music by this US-based one-man (maybe two-man?) act with the dramatic and sinister name. I'd like to see something somewhat less conventionally minimalist funereal doom BM and more distinctively Blood of the Black Owl with a bit of melodrama; in particular the vocals could be a bit more upfront as they sound very heartfelt and full of pain, and at the same time they border on being near-hysterical.

The computer-generated artwork with the multiple mirror images of the horse and deer skulls against shadows of wings and spiked tree branches, over which the band logo is superimposed, looks really good: it's at once very stark, sinister and attention-grabbing.

It's a Good Start but Could be Better - 80%

Vega360, May 22nd, 2007

This CD was mocking me. Seems like everywhere online I was looking (either in distros or metal news sites) I saw some reference to this CD, so eventually I bought it. After the second track finished I knew I had spent my money well.

Blood of the Black Owl is essentially the brainchild of Chet W. Scott (I think he is the owner of glass throat records but I could be wrong) and from what I’ve read about this album, it is some kind of underground hit not only in the states but in Europe as well. Hype usually kills just about anything for me, however this is one of the rare occasions where I can agree with the mob, in saying that this is truly something unique and worth a good listen. Fans of atmospheric black metal, funeral doom and drone can all find something in this they can absorb and get into to.

Atmospherically it is a breath of fresh air, considering all the gloomy stuff I’ve herd as well as all the shitty Agalloch worshiping bands I’ve herd. Imagine oneself in some woods late at night, twigs and branches in your way, your probably lost, everything is quiet then suddenly you look up and you see an owl which is watching you. Haunting isn’t it? The whole album is pretty much like that expect with the occasional tribal stuff that does by no means hinder the mood.

Vocals are pretty scarce, every now and again you hear something sounding like them but in general they are either absent or buried. “Hammer comes Crashing Down” has some nice spoken word parts as well. However if the music is atmospheric in nature, usually vocals are rare so the absence didn’t bother me to much.

The drumming has some letdown moments; the intros for “Uwwalo” and “Kills in Timber” have essentially the exact same robotic drumming into. Some tracks however get a nice tribal feel to them which is usually centered on drums not being pounded with sticks, but done with padded mallets to produce a small somber sound. Besides drums the percussion department has a couple of other things put in there, “A coven of vultures” has some bells and chimes used and a gong makes a cameo somewhere in here. Chet tries to use the other instruments to create a blend of nature and metal which at times works but also has a nasty habit of leaving a blank void whenever there absent.

The guitar work on here has similar ups and downs. The poisonous black metal drone riffs were something I never quite got into, not sure why but I guess the sharp tones don’t do it for me. The first track gets some nice riffs but anything beyond that isn’t really memorable. Usually it’s the same pattern over and over, sometimes you’re interrupted with drone feedback, but it’s mostly your standard repetition. He says he uses a baritone guitar but I’m no musician (just a shitty vocalist) so if it’s there it just blends into the haze.

Overall I think some of this was lost in production (he says he uses some horns and stuff but I don’t remember hearing them anywhere). However production or not this is worth a listen just to see something unique, but at the same time your left wanting more. Seeing as this is a first release I can see the band’s sound evolving over time. The atmosphere is good but with several elements buried musically it can’t be backed up so it’s like a pizza missing the toppings the core is there but the extra punch is missing.