Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Cruelty's Heart / Frostwork - Beyond Bloodied Banners Far And Haunted Winters Graven

UKEM Records 2014
(Cruelty’s Heart 1-6 Frostwork 7-14) 1. The Witch's Rune 2. Irminsul 3. Seven Kingdoms of Swords 4. The Triumphant Death of Mighty Tiw 5. Englinbarrangoi 6. Steadfast 7. Beginnan Snīwan 8. Through Frozen Limbs and Roots I Spoke 9. Onwæcan Se Gāst 10. Prophecies Carved Within The Leaves 11. Nature Finds A Way 12. Humanity Is Cold 13. For I Am Hailed With Night Speech 14. Wintertīd
Review by Lou from 'Loucifer Speaks'
Reviewing this split was always going to be difficult. A quick search through the Loucifer Speaks site should give you some indication into how excited I am about this CD and my reviews of Cruelty’s Heart’s previous CD and Frostwork’s last album and e.p should show that I’m already a bit of a fan of both bands. “A bit” may be an understatement. However, I am going to try and remain somewhat subjective. Which is sort of ridiculous since music tends to bring out such an unsubjective reaction in us, but hey! The album kicks off with Cruelty’s Heart and their terrific brand of Pagan Black Metal. The story telling feel that was evident in their previous work is back again and, once again, I feel like I’m being whisked back in time. Their side of the album kicks off with the tremendously catchy “The Witch’s Rune”, which catapults you straight in. This is black metal that you can hum along to (in much the same way that I hum along to Old Corpse Road… I hum a lot… mainly because I can’t whistle). Although Cruelty’s Heart were bloody brilliant before, the tracks on “Beyond Bloodied Banners Far…” demonstrate that they have matured since their previous release. The tracks feel more complete – more confident. “The Triumphant Death of Mighty Tiw” is pretty much the perfect Cruelty’s Heart track. It has everything; an intense narrative, an infectious melody and mind-blowing musicianship. Absolutely spot on. Cruelty’s Heart’s side of the split finishes with, what I think is, a cover of Forefather’s “Steadfast”. This closes things off nicely and paves the way for Frostwork’s half.
The atmosphere turns colder for Frostwork’s turn (as their name may suggest) and we are eased in gradually with the sounds rain (or a river), an acoustic guitar and some whispered vocals. In spite of the sun that’s currently shining through my window, I have the urge to go and grab a coat… and a hat… and a scarf. Winter is coming (yes, I have just started reading “A Game of Thrones” – no spoilers please!). When “Through Frozen Limbs and Roots I Spoke” begins you realise that you’re really in Frostwork territory, and damn, it feels good. Dagon’s vocals sound like they’re carving their way through ice – a primal force belonging in an ancient forest; beautiful and dangerous. While Cruelty’s Heart’s side of this album seems to deal with people of a time long ago, Frostwork’s focus is on the land and nature (see “Nature Finds a Way”); making these two projects perfect partners for this split. They are two sides of the same coin. As Frostwork’s self-certified ultimate fan, it’s hard to pick a favourite track here. I have the near undeniable urge to just say THEY’RE ALL BRILLIANT (which, in fairness, is true), but I shall limit myself to a mere three.
I suggest you all go to your (legal) music site of choice and have a listen to “Prophecies Carved Within the Leaves”, “Nature Finds a Way” and “Humanity is Cold”. Once you’ve done that, head over to UKEM Records and buy the album on CD. “Beyond Bloodied Banners Far and Haunted Winters Graven” is a superb partnership between two bands that compliment each other’s sound fantastically well.
Rating: 100% (c’mon, we all knew I was going to say that…)
Band Pages
Cruelty's Heart: Here
Frostwork: Here
Buy It: Here


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