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Masterful Occult Black Metal - 94%

Fulgurius, December 13th, 2011

The CD version of Hetroertzen's fourth full-length, "Exaltation of Wisdom", released by Lamech Records in collaboration with Barghest, comes in impressive deluxe digipak with even more impressive 24-pages booklet with lyrics and great illustrations that perfectly supplement the audial part of the release and help the listener to understand the album's conception and to set the appropriate mood for the listening séance.

The album's musical part consists of ambient intro and six black metal tracks with thoughtful structure and mystical atmosphere. Composition-wise it reminds of Norwegian, Swedish and German black metal classics of the 1990's with their alternation of fast and relentless passages with slower atmospheric parts. Sound-wise, though, "Exaltation of Wisdom" is closer to the recent adepts of occult black metal like Nightbringer or Acherontas; I'd say it is closer to the former than the latter as Hetroertzen retains rather ascetic approach to melodiousness: their riffs are mostly grim and cold, and never overtly melodic or "catchy", though at times they venture on some lyrical digressions like in the part with soloing guitar in "Mystery of the Fallen". One reason for the comparison with the abovementioned bands is the use of melodic dissonances that wasn't that frequent 15 or 20 years ago, though it is nicely contrasted with occasional clean epic backing vocals performed by Orm (Ormgård, Wod etc) that create additional ties to the old Scandinavian bands. The album culminates in the final track called "The White Priesthood", which is perhaps the most outstanding here with its combination of tasty atmospheric riffs with more old-school thrash/heavy-flavoured parts.

This album has everything that the true black metal should have: decent compositions, excellent musicianship, thoughtful lyrics and serious approach to the recording and mixing process with the retention of characteristic rawness of the sound and the creation of great magical atmosphere. Recommended to everyone looking for serious occult black metal.

From out the murk - 73%

autothrall, December 12th, 2011

Hetroertzen is a formerly Chilean black metal entity now located in Sweden, which has continued to elevate itself through each of three full-length recordings in the past decade. Exaltation of Wisdom was its fourth album, originally released in 2010 but given a lavish new treatment through Barghest records. Remixed, remastered and all decked out in an extravagant package with (largely) eye catching artwork and lyrics, it's apparent that the label and band are really concerned with its aesthetic value, and they should be: this is a tight execution, an album clearly rooted in the traditions of 90s European black metal, but dowsing its blasted visage with loads of resonant atmosphere through the guitar tone.

The vocals fall somewhere between the standard black metal rasp and the more garbled and decrepit tones of, say, Inquisition, though they often apply more ominous or salacious backing rasps and growls that help add to the cavern-like ceiling created by the guitars. Most of the riffs are steady, tremolo-driven processions of chords which are injected with glimmers of haunting, enormous atmosphere due to the glint of higher, ringing notes amidst the roiling murk, and some examples of this would be "Like the Serpent" or "Perpetual Eclipse Stigmata". However, this is not some one trick record, and the band will often lapse into a darker, doomed pace ala "The Final Break of Mankind" or the bridge of closer "The White Priestcraft". Hetroertzen prides itself on a particular, hypnotic effect through the airy, harrowing curvature of the guitars, and I feel that this often transpires at the expense of the individual riff-strength, but if you're turning to this genre more for its atmosphere than muscle, Exaltation of Wisdom functions admirably.

I did quite like the setup for this album, in particular the contrast from the swelling ambient intro "Incinerating Illumination" to the charging turmoil of "Like the Serpent", to the extent that I would not have minded some more pure ambient breaks throughout the various tracks, but this is something Hetroertzen have front-loaded for the album. There are certainly a few cuts that exceed the 10 minute mark, and though this is not accomplished through mass repetition they do tend to drag their feet along, offering few incendiary thrills deep in their midst. However, the production is quite strong, the lyrics sinister and introspective, and the overall package one that should peak the interest of those seeking a more cavernous alternative to the standard, raw necrosis of the genre. Fans of acts like Xasthur, Pestilential Shadows, Aosoth, Blut Aus Nord, Leviathan, or the latest crop of ominous, reverb soaked retro death would likely find something to enjoy here.