By: Evan Sherman
Ævangelist | website | facebook | bandcamp |
Released on October 23, 2015 via 20 Buck Spin
There are plenty of reasons to be entranced by Ævangelist, they operate in a whirlwind of dissonance that swirls around your brain and carries you away to horrific apocalyptic savagery, they seem to summon the most monumentally awful creatures from their gargantuan riffs and inhuman incantations, and they also dabble in the world of H.P. Lovecraft. However, there is one downfall, the hammered dulcimer, or whatever the harp-like instrument that inhabits the right channel of the mix on their fourth album, Enthrall to the Void of Bliss. No doubt their decision to accompany this music with a harp is an interesting one, especially since the songs don’t necessarily call for it. In fact, it is so out of place it almost feels as if it wasn’t meant to be included at all, a post-production inclusion of baffling proportions.
This album would have landed on my top 20 if the harp were decidedly left out. In my opinion, it is nothing but a distraction and I can’t fathom why anyone would actively try to ruin songs that have such immense power and feeling. These songs twist and turn, they tunnel down and out, they wretch and wriggle, they sink into sickness and they seem to take satisfaction in it. They are great metal songs, period. ‘Arcanae Manifestia’, ‘Cloister of the Temple of Death’, and ‘Gatekeeper’s Scroll’, are great songs that build riff upon riff and explode into a haze of blasting euphoria. It is sheer brute force mixed with an oddly beautiful ambience that festers as it swirls. But, the harp, it continues to show up and rattle around my head like a glass jar with rusty nails tumbling down a flight of stairs. The moments that cease the incessant clamoring bring physical relief in the form of deep exhalations and calmed nerves. ‘Alchemy’, the midpoint of the album and the first song that does not incorporate the harp, is a spoken word exercise in creepiness, and it works well.
‘Levitating Stones’, starts off optimistically, the harp is so far down in the mix that it is barely audible, and the distorted and echoed cries of a woman only continue to raise the freakish atmosphere. The guitar sound is gigantic and nimble, lumbering and stomping only to turn on a dime and launch into another world ending progression. The vocals on this album growl, croak, bellow, shriek, gurgle, and haunt. The range is akin to that of V.I.T.R.I.O.L. from Anaal Nathrakh. The harp makes noisier attempts towards the middle portion of the song but then it fades to the background again by the end. ‘Emanation’ starts with what sounds like a man choking on his own blood, drowning in his own life, it is horrifying and begs the question that when it seems like they have an album that excels and succeeds in so many areas, when they have an album that provides a fresh sound to the world of blackened death, do they ruin it with the addition of this instrument? Maybe they want this reaction. Maybe it is integral in the formation of this unholy sickness that the music emanates. Maybe they know something I don’t.
I really love this album too, and that’s what makes this so difficult. I started listening to Ævangelist around the time De Masticatione Mortuorum in Tumulis was released. I have been a fan since. They scratch an itch that few bands do, save for Terra Tenebrosa, and I can honestly say that this album would have placed on my top 20 list if it wasn’t for the harp. That being said, I would still recommend this release, the quality and strength of the music is far to great to be subsumed by the distractions of a misplaced instrument.