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An unblast from the past - 88%

Pestbesmittad, June 16th, 2007

This is a very good and essential compilation for those who are interested in rare and hard-to-get stuff by Setherial. First up are three unreleased tracks from the “Hell Eternal” sessions. The production on these tracks is of course phenomenally powerful and crystal clear, just like on “Hell Eternal”. And now for the big surprise: with the exception of the very end of “The Ancient Ruins”, none of these three tracks contain any blastbeats! This is Setherial we’re talking about after all. The lack of blastbeats give these tracks a more majestic feel and it is also possible to concentrate on the riffs more. Some of the riffs are in the depressive black metal vein and the slowness of these three songs really underlines this effect. “Among the Flames” is an absolutely monumental track with huge riffs and a sombre feel to it, mainly thanks to the excellent guitar melodies. Definitely one of Setherial’s best tracks ever. “The Ancient Ruins” has a nice thrash part at the end, too bad that the track starts to fade out soon after this part has begun. The inclusion of any of these three slower tracks on “Hell Eternal” would have given that blastfest of an album some more variety, but I suppose the band did not want this and thus these tracks were scrapped. At least “Among the Flames” should have made it onto “Hell Eternal” IMO.

Even though the “A Hail to the Faceless Angels” demo is a studio demo, do not expect any clean sounds. This is raw stuff, yet with the melodies that are typical for Setherial. There are no blastbeats on this demo either, a fast thrash beat is as fast as it gets here. The guitar sound reminds me of Emperor’s MLP and those who enjoyed that release should enjoy this demo too. I find them to be pretty similar in atmosphere and feeling. Some parts of these demo tracks were used on the three leftover tracks from “Hell Eternal”, listen and you’ll notice.

The last track, “My Veins are Open”, was recorded in the same studio as the demo but in a later session. The sound on this track is similar to the demo, a bit heavier though, and the drums sound more powerful than they do on the demo. “My Veins are Open” is a true killer of a majestic black metal track. It is in the vein of the great “Nord” album but with lots of keyboards, which give this track an Emperor (“ITNE” era) feel. Unlike mentioned on the Archives, this track is not previously unreleased. It first appeared on the Napalm Records compilation “With Us or Against Us vol.1” back in 1995.

The only thing to complain about here would be the chronological order of the material. I mean, why not start with the demo and then proceed in a chronological order? That would be the most logical thing on these kinds of compilations IMO but this is just a minor inconvenience.