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Bothildir > For What Once Was... > Reviews > Zephyrus
Bothildir - For What Once Was...

Bothildir - "For What Once Was..." - 92%

Zephyrus, December 19th, 2007

Imagine you are lost on a cold windy night in the pined forests of Maine. In the distance, the remnants of an autumn storm harass the rocky coast. Above, the moon is shrouded in wispy clouds. Suddenly you are ambushed by a group of hooded beings who bind you in chains and drag you into a deep cave lit by the fires of an infernal symphony. Amidst your suffering the pains of ritual torture the trumpets of Hell are blaring and demonic figures dance about your writhing form. All the while you struggle to glimpse the night beyond the mouth of the cave, longing for peace and solitude. Throughout the night the ceremony continues until at last you are led out of the cavern in a mournful procession of your fellow victims who disappear upon exit. You look east toward the sea and upon fainting you witness the first rays of the rising dawn.

Such an account, my friends, is analogous to what you’ll experience while listening to For What Once Was…, the debut full-length by Old Town, Maine’s Bothildir, a solo project by Ardroth (drummer for Shadar Logoth). While the band for whom he handled percussion was a collective effort that could be criticized as lacking identity, Bothildir benefits from the focus of a singular vision.

Musically we have black metal which is guitar-driven and dirty, with symphonic flares that at times add either emotional ambience or fanfares of infernal majesty. The music churned forth here has several parallels with Abigor, with diabolical riffing, marching drums, accentuating synthesizers and an atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re trapped in the fiery caverns of Hades. One can also hear influences of early Bathory. Amidst the ritual hatred spewed forth here we find a few passages of synth-driven melancholy, a reminder that this is a human making this music and that sadness is a common precursor to malevolence.

The production may be a turn-off to those unaccustomed to the black metal aesthetic. Rather than a clean wall of sound surrounding you, you are rather grabbed by the ears and sucked into an abyss within your soul where you dwell in thoughts of misanthropy until you are released back into a tranquil reality. This metaphor applies well to the vocals, which sound like they are being shouted up towards you from the flames below, beckoning you to descend. All the songs demonstrate this feeling but the album’s highlight is the song “With Luciferian Pride” which dances to a main riff that elicits an evil grin from your face. Following this is the title track, a recessional hymn that reminds you that the devil himself suffers, not just his victims. Listen to this record while reading Dante’s Inferno for full effect.

For recommendations, fans of most kinds of black metal should dig this rock-solid record. Abigor enthusiasts in particular should pay close attention. This is neither the over-produced orchestrations of Dimmu Borgir nor any of that minimalist bedroom USBM. This is the true spirit of black metal, influenced both by the external beauty of the Maine environment and the internal pains of the human soul.