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Quite Unlike the Waves - 65%

BeholdtheNicktopus, November 7th, 2013

Waves crash on what can only be a deserted beach. A plaintive note announces itself. Then it stops. Shiny, well-produced guitars overpower what might have been a build-up. Instead, we have a long, plodding introduction utterly lacking in dynamics. Chords are repetitively struck, as if announcing something that hasn't yet shown up, almost fanfare-like. Finally, in comes the blast beat section—but is it that long-awaited thing? No, it's actually pretty dull and uninspired. Everything here is sterilized, carefully controlled, and thus lacking in that continual overstepping that makes long-winded black metal great. There's a lot of repetition here, not necessarily on the level of notes, but more glaringly on the level of dynamics and progression. Sure, some acoustic notes invite one to take part in the dry atmosphere, but they quickly recede as if produced only to show off, to present to the listener some type of display-value.

Finally, about two-thirds of the way through the first of the two tracks, we get a good riff, one that integrates the acoustic and electric parts fairly well. Again, it's not fantastic, but at least it had more energy, if only for a second. This is more or less WITTR minus the mystical atmosphere, minus the energy and anarchic abandon. In fact, for a release having only two mega-length songs, atmosphere ought to be the one thing guaranteed. Unfortunately, the songs are dry and in-between, neither progressing in a sensible way nor building atmosphere through repetition. Loosely speaking, this is more an attempt to do atmospheric metal without atmosphere, an interesting exercise, but it doesn't make for a particularly good album.

The second track is quite a bit better than the first due to the greater degree of difference between the riffs, but that can't make up for the dull half-blasts and forgettable melodies. Don't get me wrong, there are a number of good moments on the album, mostly contained in the second track, but it is overall only decent. If the music were allowed to build in emotional intensity, to really concentrate itself into unique moments, to not force itself into mostly uninteresting melodies, to let the songs grow and crash like the waves at the beginning of the album, then perhaps Lake of Blood could really do something great.

Lake of Blood - As Time and Tide Erodes Stone - 70%

ThrashManiacAYD, May 16th, 2011

As the tidal waves retreat in the opening to "Proxigean Arcanum" they are replaced by another just as relentless repeated onslaught in the processional black metal hammering of Lake of Blood's debut album that we have here, "As Time and Tide Erodes Stone". This two-song, 32-minute release from the Californian upstarts would not sound very American (or Californian) if it were not the overriding influence of Wolves in the Throne Room on LoB's sound, who have unwittingly moved to the forefront of a sound every bit as intense as traditional black metal but forged in the fire of natural mysticism and isolation, a great many left-wing miles from the humanistic right-wing for which it's usually renowned.

Over a number of listens I have grown to like to manner in which Lake of Blood have picked up WITTR's mantle of incessant, yet melodically inclined, coarse riffing woven into Altar of Plague's harsher outlook all packaged up in the mega song lengths both those two acts swear by. With so many riffs contained in "Proxigean Arcanum" and its 15-minute successor "Destroyer of Vices", there is not only plenty to crow about but as much pleasure to be gained in the manner in which they gently ebb and flow between contrasting moods, recalling middle-era Enslaved as they twist through a passage of fast, blazing riffing and snare pounding and then from nowhere, appears gushing requiem and recompense in their softer tones. It may lack the 'evilness' of your Norwegian BM-types but the wall of sound that hits you when the accelerator is pushed is a convincing statement of intent from this inexperienced band.

Atmosphere, the invisible slave to which all black metal bands are bound at the wrist and often judged regardless of more numerate factors, is very much at play here but don't come expecting the grainy mystery that accompanies WITTR. Lake of Blood's sound is more basic and devoid of their aura of eerie, dark woodland nature but as far as backing up their style of sonic noise it ain't half bad. Much like the piece as a whole, which is too short at 32 minutes, this worthy album demonstrates a promising band in progress taking all the right cues from undoubtedly the best movement within black metal in years.

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