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Tibetan Black Metal - 100%

Ravachol, May 3rd, 2005

Drawing inspiration from the philosophical and musical heritage of distant Tibet (that for a lot of years has been "absorbed" into the Chinese territory), the Portuguese The Firstborn present their third recording effort, with renewed optimism. Having built a respectful name in the their domestic underground scene for almost a decade, they hereby show they are ready to spread their wings in other directions. The band spent four years composing and researching to create this work, which makes it at least worthy of attention. Fans of bands such as Orphaned Land, for example, will surely find a lot of interesting elements in the "The Unclenching Of Fists". The Firstborn masterfully combine a classic atmospheric death metal sound and a few certain black metal riffs, together with elements of oriental music. They do not hesitate to interrupt a blastbeat in order to spice up the piece with an exotic Sitar melody, then continuing once again with the blastbeat, a mix that at no point sounds innoportune. Sitar, oriental voices, samples, all flowing through the hard prism of atmospheric death metal, as it was shaped in the '90s, composing, therefore, a musician's puzzle, a voyage between West and East, rendering all 50 minutes of the album's duration exceedingly short.

The vocals are, as a rule, brutal, leaving the clean vocals to undertake a secondary role, although coming to the foreground at some points. However, the expressive singer Bruno Fernandes chooses his interpretation to dramatically suit the lyrical aspect. Pieces as the sinister "The Roaring Voice Of The God Of Death" are indicative of the possibilities of The Firstborn. Lyric-wise, they drew inspiration from the above-mentioned Tantric Buddhism and, more concretely, the Bardo Thödol, the Tibetan "Book Of The Dead". Unfortunately, I do not hold the lyrics in my hands, but if we think on what their compatriots Moonspell accomplished, based on the world of literature, producing such intense verses, one is not to exclude that also The Firstborn have accomplished well, even more given such an interesting and original subject. The recording took place in guitarist Paulo Vieira's own studio, and you can tell that the group, released from timetables and such pressures, gave full attention to all aspects of production, resulting in an irreproachable, full, limpid sound. The almost one hour's length of "The Unclenching Of Fists" flies by, leaving in the listener a pleasantly melancholic flavour of the passion of the distant East.