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A TALE TOLD IN BLACK TONGUE - 85%

Morgothesadman, December 24th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, I, Voidhanger Records (Limited edition)

A special talent is needed just to play death metal, while talent, skills and technique to play good death metal; passion, intelligence and a singular taste for darkness are necessary to craft the black metal arts; elegance, melancholy and sophistication are essential to creating doom metal. However, to mix the three of them and succeed gloriously is a task just true legends have achieved. The trinity of extreme metal captured musically is not just ambitious, but arrogant, and if it fails, the fall is endless and terrible. Most bands that have tried this fusion haven’t overcome the expectations and demands of their own music. In my knowledge there is only one band that has risen over the corpses of the others and prevails to reclaim the throne of this unique combination, being this band the British monster Abyssal with three outstanding full-lengths in their repertory. But now, I’m pleased to say that there is another band rising to this moorland: Tongues.

'Hreilia' is the debut album of the Danish black/death/doom metal band Tongues. It opens with the subtle sound of the water reaching a shore, a shore filled with corpses depicting the splendid cover art, and then a guitar plays an enigmatic — almost cosmic — melody, slow drums in the background, a mysterious voice talks of forgotten ages, while the pace and melody evolves creating anxiety along with chants, suddenly it stops, a new guitar tune appears bringing with its speed, percussions become stronger, unexpected a horrific scream of a tormented soul burst into chaos. Blasting and magnanimous metal is presented to us in a rich, complex and strong combination of ideas, riffs and violence. Tongues plays its music with passion and strength, the compositions are compound and full of surprising changes, besides an atmosphere of evil and darkness is present all the time.

From the very beginning the album sounds like a classic, I can’t believe this full-length is released in 2017, it is out of this age, to me it is in the vein of legendary bands such as The Legion, Lord Belial or Necrophobic. The production and mastering sound like an album from the golden age of Swedish black/death metal. The second song, “Theophagous Wounds Of Earth”, starts with this bombastic bass line that inevitably reminded me of the forgotten mythical band Blot Mine and their first record 'Porphyrogenesis', sharing this kind of cosmic elements in the music with Tongues debut album and the solid presence of the bass guitar. This Danish band has not only accomplished mix the genres superbly but also has accomplished recreate the sound of the golden age of metal.

As aggressive as it can get, as violent or fast, 'Hreilia' is a pessimistic album, I wouldn’t call it melancholic or depressive because it is not, due to the nature of its music, it never gets lost in the melancholy of a passage or riff to lose its death metal core, it never slows down to sadness so much to lose its black metal touch and give way to a depressive structure. Meditation is suggested but barely present, contrary of a doom metal anthem. And this last line leads me to the music combination, and I have to say that black and death metal are the dominant forces of this band, doom metal is never in the lead, but always present, either in the guitar tuning or the slower moments, but never in the main path.

Tongues debut is impressive and crushing. One aspect I have to mention, is the outstanding vocal performance, it sounds so natural and faithful to the music that it seems to be another music element. The guitar work is glorious, and besides the three main genres this band claims to play, you can find trash metal and more classical metal influences in the form of guitar solos or catchy riffs.

The lyrics are dark and enigmatic; they talk of epic and cosmic tales. My favorite song of the album is “Grove Of Mithridate” which starts with an evil riff, almost psychedelic, it feels cursed and devastating at the same time, it has a tragic feeling that the music communicates perfectly, it’s aggressive and brutal, yet decaying and miserable. But the best song of the record is the longest as well: “Acumen Numinous” every good thing Tongues does in the previous songs is present here, but this song has a different structure and notorious progression, the guitar solo is superb and the drum performance is formidable. Close the half of the song we get this change of rhythm and a confusing guitar line resembling chaos — the end is near — and a colossal ambience is presented to us with solid guitars and chants in the background, is cosmic and delusional.

'Hreilia' is a mastodon of a debut, probably will become a classic in the future, and I can only wait to see what this band is going to release in the years to come. A must listen to fans of black metal, death metal and metalheads in general.

Originally written for www.thepitofthedamned.com

Of valleys eerie and souls empty - 90%

autothrall, December 8th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, I, Voidhanger Records (Limited edition)

I listen to and enjoy droves of metal records each years, across a wide spread of the subgenres, but few and far between are those that can even for a few minutes deliver me some sort of a genuine creep factor. The full-length debut of Denmark's Tongues is one such case, a highly atmospheric black metal experience which effectively weaves in elements of doom and death metal to create an experience which alternates between haunting, paranoid and frenzied. While there are a lot of bands experimenting with hybrids of these stylistic niches, Hreilia succeeds where so many others falter or plane out because these gentlemen are masters of scripting simplistic but hypnotic guitars and bass grooves that bore down through your temples into your memory box.

I could tell you that I picked up fragments of Canadian alienists Antediluvian or Mitochondrion here, or perhaps scraps of the dissonant French masters Blut Aus Nord and Deathspell Omega, and all of that would be true; but the psychedelic submission and trauma of Finland's Oranssi Pazuzu is perhaps the closest equivalent, though Tongues don't rely strictly on such exotic walls of atonal sheen in terms of songwriting. Hreilia is intelligently set up by the slow, evil, subliminal grooving of the track "Perennial Waves", behind which you can make out all manner of scaling and falling ambiance that gives the impression you're in the wake of some midnight atrocity, the victims' remains cooling around you, bathing in the lunar rays, much like the cover. The album can grow much more savage, with faster blasted parts that rely on busier progressions of chords, but it's generally the rule that the material remains slower or mid-pace, extremely bewitching and atmospheric, and they play around more with the riffing structures and bass lines that actually matter, while using a guttural lead vocal as a constant that helps rein in and bind the material to a sense of bleak oppression.

Synthesizers are used tastefully throughout, whether in some of the shorter instrumental pieces or to accent the metal components with heightened, fell grace. They also use a saranji, an incredibly atmospheric Eastern stringed instrument which by itself can create all manner of depth and drama, and it balances off against the harsher sections of the albums smoothly. The mix is a fraction oblique, sacrificing polish for a more dingy and alien feel that better serves the blend of instruments, but this all works really well as a package alongside the crude, creepy colors of the artwork and the arcane symmetry of the band's logo, or the imagery of cosmic/weird horror and dread which permeates the lyrics. One of the strongest and most sinister new voices I've heard on both the Danish scene and the I, Voidhanger roster in some time, Hreilia is a record which is not immediately impenetrable, but still picks up accumulative value the more you listen through it, with its spooky and subduing licks that massage and violate your mind in equal measure. Euthanasia for happiness.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com