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Debut release makes WH a band to watch closely - 90%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, February 18th, 2015

Some very interesting British black metal is emerging from around the country and Birmingham's Wreodan Healh - come on, Google, stop changing their name to "health"! - is one such band. These guys look as if they've had a chequered history, lasting a couple of years a decade ago, then putting the project aside until 2013 when they reformed and now this little demo is the result. It looks more like a single release with just two songs and a short instrumental, and while this does not sound like much for a demo, at least it has put Wreodan Healh on the map and in our reviewing target sights.

Even though this demo is very small by demo standards, it's had a lot of thought and craft put into it as the production is very, very good and the band's sound is solid, really solid, s-o-l-i-d solid, three-dimensional, well-rounded solid. Well, maybe not three-dimensional yet but you know what I mean. After an all-instrumental introduction with a mournful medieval melody and a kitsch movie soundtrack of battleground noises, the demo proper begins with "Kingdom of Ancient Sorrow", a middle-speed straight-ahead BM number with distinct squiggly chord sequences and forceful surging riffs and lively jaunty rhythms. The musicians pick up interesting melodies and riffs as though they had magnets for catching these permanently embedded in their foreheads. There is a heroic quality thanks to good and sparing use of warm-toned synthesiser together with dramatic melodies and a sorrowful lead guitar solo.

"Towers Over Desolate Realms" has a lovely acoustic string introduction that leads into attack-dog tremolo guitar - blastbeat drum battery and a very stirring folk tune played on synths. The grim BM singing is crabby and dry with some spoken vocal. More subdued in some ways than "Kingdom ...", this song features some very beautiful and stirring music for most of its length, and it's almost a shame that the song ends when it does and quite abruptly too - I think I might get post-traumatic sudden-song-end stress disorder from this.

Usually the sub-genre of dungeon folk BM doesn't appeal much to me but this demo is a great little recording of thoughtful song-writing and arrangements with excellent melodies and an atmosphere of (well, highly romanticised) feudal times and maybe even of pre-Roman days when druids held sway as Britain's political and spiritual leaders and guides. There is some real drama building up in the second track and this might actually be the better song of the two. Wreodan Healh is most definitely a band to watch closely!