Wodfreca Records 2012
1.Rex Anglorvm Saxonvm 2.The Blood of the Wyvern
3.Haraldr Sigurðsson 4.Over the Rainbow Bridge 5.A Ship Bound for Thule
6.In King Hroðgar's Hall
From the opening riffs of 'Rex Anglorvum Saxorvm' there is a real sense of bitterness and despair as the harsh, yet tuneful guitars tear open, accompanied by Bloodletter's scathing screamed vocal delivery. In amongst the mournful passages are scattered some very brutal, blast beat heavy sections that are a full on black metal assault on the senses. When this opening track does slow for the chorus sections, the sense of despair returns with an extremely melancholic atmosphere being produced. There is also an underlying folk element to the guitar riffs, almost Mithotyn like in their delivery and sound. Being a one man band, drums have been programmed and its actually a joy to hear drums that sound 'realistic' with a great production that suits the black metal style of playing brilliantly. As 'The Blood Of The Wyvern' slowly comes to life there is an impending sense of doom before all hell is unleashed in a barrage of harsh black metal. Melody is once again introduced through the use of acoustic guitars which are layered over the main riffs. This makes for a good break in the song especially as these sections are accompanied by the harsh vocals, sounding slightly Immortal, but only very slightly! Musically, Cruelty's Heart are some way off the Norwegian black metal titans. We're even treated to some 'Maiden-esque' dual lead guitars which, for all the harshness of the black metal on offer, fits in very well as there is always an underlying sense of melody to the bands music. The track slowly draws to a close utilising more of the Maiden style of riffing and lead guitar work.
'Haraldr Sigurðsson' is another slower, melodic affair with more of the Maiden guitar work introduced. Spiced up with the harsh black metal vocals it's a partnership that works really well, the combination of the melodic music and harsh screamed vocals combining perfectly. The track suddenly breaks for the introduction of a very melodic, acoustic section which is only short, but adds variety to the song and is extremely atmospheric and very black metal in delivery and composition. If comparisons were needed again, then Immortal wouldn’t be far off the mark. Continuing the melodic and acoustic theme, 'Over The Rainbow Bridge' begins in such fashion, acoustic guitars are backed up by some simplistic drum patterns, there to keep the time more than anything else. But in all fairness that’s all that is needed. Harsher guitars and vocals then pour scornfully from the speakers, returning the listener to the more familiar black metal. The pace is kept to a minimum here, the atmosphere being created more than enough to keep the listener engaged with the song. The slower guitar riffs are an unusual combination, having an underlying folk element to them but also sounding similar to early Emperor style riffs. Here though, its a combination that works very well! 'A Ship Bound For Thule' opens up with a more traditional sounding, tremolo picked black metal riff before the song then breaks away into more melodic and slower guitar work. No need for faster, blast beat heavy drumming here, the morbid atmospheres, the sense of loss, the sense of pride more than enough to carry the song. What is enjoyable is the fact that a lot of the time you can understand certain words and lines from the lyrics, Bloodletter telling tales of Anglo-Saxon history, of times now past, mere folklore now brought to life through the bands music. This is an absolutely epic song, dripping atmosphere and played/sung with absolute conviction. The lead guitar/harmonies providing a spine tingling atmosphere that really captures the imagination – Definitely the stand-out track of the entire e.p based on the atmosphere it creates, the emotions it stirs. Closing proceedings is
'In King Hroðgar's Hall' which sees a return to the more traditional black metal sound, in terms of pace and delivery. However, melody is never far from the bands sound, the song breaking out into yet another acoustic and melodic section being accompanied by whispered vocals which only adds to the atmosphere being created. This is probably as melodic as the band have sounded so far but don’t let 'melodic' put you off as its all about the atmosphere here, as is black metal generally, be it as heard here, melodic, or a harsh blast beat deadly delivery. The song does return to the harsher black metal sound with some more epic riffing. As the song slowly draws to a close, the acoustic guitars take over to end the track superbly, giving the e.p a very mournful sounding finale. In summing up, I think its going to be fair to say that Cruelty's Heart have produced an absolutely amazing piece of music, sounding fully original and full of conviction. The dense atmospheres really draw the listener into the bands world with the harshness of the black metal really adding to the overall appeal of this release. It's another black metal release which really stands head and shoulders above a lot of release out there and coming from one man, it's testament to Bloodletters ability to write a worthwhile song. Harsh black metal that oozes atmosphere and has a melodic, folk inspired musical core, this is about as good as it gets and is yet another release that (if your a BM fan) should be on your “to get” list. But hurry, word is there aren’t many copies left available to buy. Comes extremely highly recommended
9 out of 10