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Promising debut - 76%

Morhguel, January 15th, 2012

To be honest, I'm not really familiar with Iran's black metal scene. I know only two fine but underrated bands, Aras, which is fairly popular across the world and Abathur, which sadly no longer exists. As far as I know, there aren't many other black metal bands in that territory because of the huge influence of the religion and the strictness of the country which is quite understandable so it's always good to hear that a newcomer formation could emerge from a place like that.

This is the same case with From The Vastland, a one-man black metal act from Tehran. Despite that they hadn't released any demo before this full-length a European label made a deal with them which suggests that it's not just another lo-fi room black metal effort but a formation with a more professional approach. And if you take a look at the nicely made artwork and listen to the sound's high quality – which is clean but not overproduced and better then most of what I've heard recently – you know that this is more than just an assumption. The music is also way better than the average, the songs are well-structured and quite complex, they build up from many different panels so they don't get repetitive or boring. Despite the varying song structures the tracks still keep the epic atmosphere which is rather similar to Nordic and USBM bands than to the Middle Eastern metal formations. Obviously, we can hear some oriental influences in the riffs or in some leads but apart from the album starter „The Dawn” this is not another oriental black metal album.

One of the best things about this formation is that it rarely oversteps the traditional black metal genre's boundaries and it never wants to seem to be something that it's not. The music was influenced by the Iranian mythology so apart from the bit unnecessary instrumental track "Glacier" the songs and the artwork are about the country's mythological tradition instead of freezing winter or worshipping Satan. This and the brutal sound of the harsh vocals make this record even more epic not to mention that some of the songs are featuring some backing choir and keyboards too. The absolute highlight of the record is a fine example what happens in most of the songs, at least, the approach to this track is similar to the rest. This one is titled „The Light Of Revelation” which is a perfect black metal piece and which reminds me a bit of the early Marduk because of the atmosphere and the riffs, especially the first, faster part of the song. The second, slower part also has the same feeling but it's more epic, sometimes it reminded me of the Russian/Ukrainian bands and after that, when the blast-beat returns the music turns toward the Nordic plain black metal style.

This kind of mixture of the sub-genres, the tempo and the heavy/atmospheric parts makes this record more interesting than an average black metal release, however, the record isn't flawless. I mentioned the sound which is clearly above the average, the sound of the guitar is almost perfect for this type of music, the vocals are well-echoed and distorted, the special elements are perfectly merging into the soundscape. It's hard to hear the bass though, and the sound of the ride cymbal is really annoying sometimes, sadly, it pulls down the overall image. I know, that this album was recorded with a drum machine but there are better samples around, next time Sina should be aware of that. To be fair, the rest of the samples are good, better than most “real drum sounds”, they are clean but not too mechanic. The programming is also creative, so all in all, it's just a minor flaw. I also had some problems with the vocals, sometimes they are not following the rhythm but I'm not sure if it wasn't intentional – maybe they wanted to sound more progressive - so I can't decide whether it should be considered as a problem or not. In some songs it works, in other times you get used to it after a few listen.

I admit that it's not a groundbreaking album. There's nothing extraordinary on this record and we can hear some overused riffs as well, but still, it's a professionally made debut with some great songs which is a good start for a promising band. I'm sure that if Sina follows his own path and keeps this epic atmosphere in his music, the next album could be a top release.