Thursday, 24 January 2013

Nine Covens - On The Dawning Of Light

Candlelight Records 2012
1.Origin Of Light 2.As Fire Consumes 3.At The Ocean's Stand
4.The Mist Of Death 5.The Fog Of Deceit 6.To Quench A Raging Flame
7.White Star Acception 8.Over The Oceans Way 9.A Burning Ember
Mysterious and anonymous black metallers Nine Covens return with their second album 'On The Dawning Of Light' and from the opening bars of 'Origin Of Light' it is quite clear that the band are not here to fuck about, blasting open with harsh, yet groove laden black metal riffing all played at a relatively fast pace. The vocals particularly stand out, being of the usual scathing harsh delivery, but being of the highest order, dripping in echo and re-verb and really pushing the bands sound to the limits. Its really how black metal vocals should be delivered, full of hate, malice and spiteful intent. 'As Fire Consumes' continues the theme brilliantly, the pace being increased for longer periods this time. The sense of urgency is more than apparent, sounding extremely brutal, yet brilliantly melodic and catchy in places. A hard balancing act when playing this style of black metal, yet Nine Covens excel. As the track draws to a close there is a doom like end to the track which retains the ice cold feel through the vocals and again, its brilliantly catchy, bordering on epic which is how the opening to 'As The Oceans Stand' feels and sounds. A real sense of something epic being created and again, its very very catchy yet still remaining grim black metal. Trying to compare the band to those around them in a similar genre is a testing proposition, but if any comparisons were needed, then a harsher Winterfylleth is probably about as accurate a description. A comfortable comparison which isn't far off the mark. 'The Mist Of Death' is a slower affair, the fast tremolo picked, black metal riffs remain, the drums however drop the pace completely and adopt a slower pace which lends itself brilliantly to the guitar work and gives the track an extremely sombre and mournful feel. Pain and death are etched into every desperate scream and this only adds to the bleak and morbid atmospheres being created. This is truly the sound of death! As with the previous track, this is a monstrously epic piece of music proving that black metal does not always have to be about how fast the music is delivered. 
'The Fog Of Deceit' is a track that you would expect to come storming in with a hail of blast beats and raging guitars but actually does the opposite for the first two minutes of the track, opting for a more melodic mid-paced approach. The blast beats and harsh guitars are introduced thereafter but again the band decide to take a slightly different path through the use of guttural, death metal like vocals which actually work really well over the fast and harsh black metal music. Vocally this song is very sparse, giving it an almost 'instumental' feel. 'To Quench A Raging Flame' returns to the fast and harsh approach heard in the opening tracks and its more of the same, except its very brutal indeed, the band seemingly stepping up a gear and really 'going for it'. 'White Star Acception' is another sombre sounding track, tempos dropped to a minimum to allow listener to soak up and revel in the morbid atmospheres that drift back and forth in almost militaristic fashion. As the majority of the instruments fade out, the acoustic guitars open up and are left to lead an atmospheric interlude which doesn't last very long, but works well and leads the song into it's second half and allows the re-introduction of the rest of the instruments seem seamless. No vocals either, so this is the albums instrumental track! At 7m10 you would expect the song to last for what would seem like an eternity, as there aren't many riffs to the song, but its actually the opposite. Such is the appeal that you quickly become engrossed in the music and the emotion so that time actually passes amazingly quickly. 'Over The Oceans Way' has a slightly different feel to everything before it due to time changes and differences in tempo. It feels like the band are bringing everything heard in the previous tracks and mixing them up into one track which gives it some good variety but never makes it feel 'too different' either. As proceedings draw to a close, the tempo is upped to the maximum and never wanders from that pace. Ninth and final track 'A Burning Ember' closes the album in a brutal and epic statement of hate. Utilising all the elements heard previously, its the perfect way to end an absolutely brilliant album. It is fair to say that Nine Covens are the leading black metal band in the UK at the moment. There is no faulting this album whatsoever. It has a lot to offer in terms of pace, atmosphere and musicianship (the band putting in a flawless performance). Black metal of THE highest order – it's harsh, its grim, its brutal and melodic and its one of the best black metal albums to come from these shores in recent times (given that we have seen a lot of great black metal releases recently). This is a 'must have' album for black metal fans – ensure you grab a copy, you will not be disappointed. Comes as about as highly recommended as it gets!
9 out of 10

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