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One of the Greats - 97%

windir2245, January 14th, 2010

Every now and then, I encounter an album that I listen to so frequently that it becomes iconic of a certain period in my life. Nelly’s rap album Country Grammar will always bring me back to Track and Field practice at my grade school. Slipknot’s Vol. 3 will always remind me of transitioning from middle school to high school. Graveland’s Thousand Swords is always going to be the album that served as a perfect otherworldly escape when my mother was suffering from cancer. This past winter break has yielded the newest addition to my list of iconic albums: Hirilorn’s Legends of Evil and Eternal Death, a beautiful piece of black metal art.

Before the great Deathspell Omega existed and progressed black metal into unforeseen realms of avant-garde genius, a few of the DSO members played in the short-lived and still underground Hirilorn. Honestly, I’m shocked that this band is not more widely-known. Since being introduced to them a few months back, I have been blown away by the sheer quality of their music. After spouting one of the greatest demos I’ve ever heard (A Hymn to the Ancient Souls), Hirlorn returned in 1998 to deliver their only full-length album, Legends of Evil and Eternal Death.

Don’t let the four tracks deceive you into believing this is an EP. The songs are epics, lasting between 12-17 minutes apiece. When I say “epic,” I mean it in every sense of the word. Admirably, Hirilorn never resorts to cheesy synths and overbearing orchestral breaks to achieve this epic feeling. Rather, they craft beautiful atmospheres with the tastefully used ambient keyboards, poetic and fantastical lyrics, and unbelievable guitar melodies. Oh my god, the lead guitar... While everything else (the rhythm guitar, drums, vocals, aforementioned keyboards and lyrics) are all extremely well-done and add their own important elements to the overall package, nothing trounces the melodic leads. Honestly, they could be the most beautiful melodies I have heard in metal music, even surpassing my prior favorites that existed within Dissection’s two masterpieces The Somberlain and Storm of the Light’s Bane.

I do not want to give the impression that the leads are the only aspect worth mentioning. 10:27 into Through the Moonless Night breaks into a frenetic black metal riff devoid of any real melody but perfectly heavy and memorable nonetheless. I’m hard-pressed to not headbang every time this moment occurs. Legends of Evil and Eternal Death is full of these moments. Unconventional song structures allow for plenty of softer asides and newly introduced riffs and melodies. Luckily, the songs never get lost in the constant change and tend to return to previously introduced riffs and melodies, successfully making the songs distinct from each other.

If I have not made it clear by now, let me do so. Listen to this album! With it’s unique melodies and overall epic atmosphere, Legends of Evil and Eternal Death has solidified its place amongst the greatest albums I have ever encountered. While I obviously cannot guarantee that this will become an iconic album in other people’s lives, I feel confident enough in it’s quality to deem it one of the greats in the black metal genre. Hirilorn’s masterpiece should grace the ears of every extreme metal fan at some point in their lives.

Originally written for webzine/fanzine: http://grampspantheon.wordpress.com/

Ambitious, But Not Entirely Realised - 70%

psychicguru, October 3rd, 2007

I originally procured this record to get a taste of what Hasjarl was doing before he (with Shaxul) started Deathspell Omega, and I must say that this record is a completely different beast.

The first and most obvious attribute of this album you'll notice is the fact that it is comprised entirely of 4 tracks that last no shorter than twelve minutes. This, combined with the very essence of the music, creates an epic feel that is sustained throughout the entire album. Each track barrels forward relentlessly (and perhaps, repetitively), which ultimately serves as its downfall. Instead of focusing on dramatic tension to instill a sense of dark grandeur, Hirilorn chooses to blast forward at all costs, and in return, renders the vast majority of this record as tedious and boring.

That said, however, the album does have its moments of vicious glory. For example, at the beginning of the album opener (Last Ride on the Winds of Eternity), a haunting classical guitar riff pushes forward, giving way to the very prominent and frequently reused lead riff that is bordering on pure cheese. However, it's the little moments in between the almost painfully weak ones that keep you listening. For example, at 3:13, the song reverts back to an reverb drenched acoustic lick while Shaxul pontificates on his impending doom. Then, with a pained wail, the song kicks into brutal overdrive, guitars colliding together in a wall of sound that sounds at times like an entire string section. Very, very cool.

However, you have to ask yourself if the little moments like those are worth waiting through all the weakness for. Due to the sheer ridiculousness of some of the lead guitar work on this record, this record fails in attaining the height that it seems to attempt. However, it is NOT a terrible record, and if you can get over the aforementioned lead guitar, you might have yourself a new favorite.