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VERY promising debut - 86%

Lustmord56, February 3rd, 2009

Originally published at by Erik Thomas

Wow, real Black metal in the US is really starting to impress me and this his SoCal 5 piece look to be an up and coming band with some real potential as this 4 song, 21 minute EP does virtually everything right.

With a perfectly balanced raw buzzing guitar tone and some actual presence of bass, the four decent length tracks each have their own character and presence that culls from basically every important black metal movement both old and new-From frosty tremolo pick melodies, fierce blast beats, creepy ambience, some light synths and feral screams. The six minute opener “Nameless I Arise” opens with a spooky into before delving into a varied and multi faceted set of riffs and melodies and even a slight death metal canter and acoustic segue towards the end of the track. The title track is the EPs shortest but most vehement and direct with some pretty epic blasts and melodies. “The Darkest Path” has just a killer opening riff and main melody line and yet another well done acoustic/synth break before a introspective closing. Another 6 minute track, the closing “Lake of Blood” is a frosty tremolo picked assault with some undulating somber melodies but exposed the bands slight lack of experience at times as the layering is a bit off. Still, its gritty, epic stuff that borders on war metal at times with a great closing couple of minutes.

All being said the band need to tighten up as musicians, but their overall delivery and approach hints at something far deeper and truer than so called US black metal like Abigail Williams and more along the lines of a more melodic and organic, less chaotic, corpse painted and spiky Averse Sefira mixed with Wolves in the Throne Room.

Great debut - 87%

OakenHelm, October 22nd, 2008

Yet another band hailing from the burgeoning black metal haven of southern California, Lake of Blood are a pretty good example of the rush of new melodic black metal bands coming out of the US these days. Comparisons to Emperor, Drudkh, Agalloch and Immortal are drawn by the label, and those are pretty good reference points, if a little broad. I can hear some Weakling, Arkthos and Hennes Siste Hoste (the latter two likely more coincidental than anything else) in the sound as well, and those are probably closer reference points. A split with Panopticon is also planned, and these two artists will compliment each other well, if that helps describing the sound (speaking of, Panopticon's debut is another release worthy of your time). This is part of the new breed of epic, vaguely melancholic black metal with strong production and damn fine riffing that those of us with actual musical taste love so much. For a young band this is an extremely promising first offering. It's always a good sign when an album is over that I want to simply hit play again as opposed to turning to something else, and this EP is short enough to leave me craving for more each time.

Lake of Blood (cool name by the way) don't fuck around at all on this 4-song EP, which came from the tiny Milkweed Records label (who have also released Njiqahdda and not much else). Production is thick and thunderous, with the riffing, which transmutes into some pretty solid headbanging moments frequently, in particular standing out pretty well. The leads are varied and evoke everything from aggression to forlorn melancholy, much like Arkthos, while the rhytm guitar provides solid backing and a more atmospheric backdrop a lot of the time (especially in opener "Nameless I Arise"). The full production really helps this album stand head and shoulders above most other rivals in the underground, giving that extra oomph to the heavy moments and giving the quieter moments room to breathe. The acoustic moments are heavily reminiscent of Ulver and Agalloch, and are fortunately used pretty sparingly so as not to detract from the seething venom the distorted guitars have. I haven't headbanged to a black metal album this much since Spite Extreme Wing's works.

Drums are nice and loud, though not overbearing, with the only downside being that they get somewhat lost in the mix during the really fast sections. The drummer makes full use of his kit and knows when to change things up without being overly flashy; it's nice to see a full band after all the shitty drum machines I have to deal with as of late. The cymbal work in particular is worthy of note, with the title track probably having the best work in that regard. His blasts are decent, nothing particularly special but they get the job done. It's in the more midpaced sections where the drumming really shines.

Detailing the story of a man who descends into a more feral, primal nature, the music compliments this perfectly. An interesting concept indeed, and it's pulled off pretty well, which is always nice compared to the standard drivel most black metal bands go with these days. The constantly shifting music represents the clashing emotions within the man very well, and goes well with the sound, even if this doesn't sound particularly foresty like many other Agalloch-influenced acts. Indeed, Lake of Blood draws more on the melancholy side of Agalloch as opposed to the folk aesthetic, which is a refreshing change of pace.

There's no reason not to own this EP. It's not groundbreaking, just a damn fine example of a solid black metal album with an equally solid production.

Epic atmosphere and solid guitar work - 80%

vorfeed, August 24th, 2008

This is the first EP from Lake of Blood, an American band playing atmospheric black metal.

The sound on this album is relatively clear. The rhythm guitars have just enough distortion to nicely compliment the lead guitar, which has a cleaner tone. The vocals are rasped, and are mostly understandable, which is always welcome. The drumming is varied and solid, and I especially like the cymbal work. The drums sometimes get washed out during the blasting sections, though, as does the bass... I found myself wishing that they'd put the latter a lot higher in the mix.

On "Heed the Primal Calling" Lake of Blood combine Xasthur-style blasting sections with heavy riffing and solos, broken by occasional minimalistic parts. The songwriting here is quite varied, with plenty of sudden changes and tempo adjustments. For the most part, the transitions sound good, if rather abrupt, and the individual guitar parts are memorable and strong. The band's use of active, layered riffs helps lend interest to the blasting parts -- nice to see a band which rejects the usual "play one riff for half an hour" atmospheric black metal formula. The layered sections on "Heed the Primal Calling" are especially great, with excellent complementary guitar work. The slower parts also have plenty of power, especially the ending section of "Lake of Blood", which uses ringing, triumphant guitar to great effect.

This album ought to please fans of Xasthur, Weakling, and Drudkh, but it'll also appeal to those who like the older, riff-based black metal style. If you're looking for something that has both epic atmosphere and solid guitar work, Lake of Blood is a great choice. Recommended.

Standout tracks: "Heed the Primal Calling", "Lake of Blood"

Review by vorfeed: