Review Summary: Forgotten Tomb bass player Algol delves into the modern black metal scene with his one man side project. Utilizing elements from industrial, ambient, classic/prog rock, death metal, and psychedelic, Worship or Die is a welcome addition to any metalhead's
One man black metal bands have been played out to such an extent I cant even muster the enthusiasm needed to actually check these basement dwelling, pretentious hobbits who think they’re the second coming of Burzum. For the most part anyways. Once in a long while you’ll come across a competent musician capable of creating some solid one man black metal and once you do, it’ll hit you like a line drive to the groin. You then lose focus and blow the playoffs for your team. Err….Matt Holliday anyone. Any who, Hiems is a band worth checking out. Meaning Winter in Latin, Hiems is a side project of Forgotten Tomb bass player Algol. He’s released two albums so far for Moribund records, the first I have not heard but the second I have. “Worship or Die” the bands second release, is a cleanly produced riff heavy black metal record that experiments with Blut Aus Nord’s industrial weirdness, Alchemist’s psychedelia, Satyricon-esque black n roll, and features the doomieness of his main band along with a crunchy bass tone akin to hardcore and death metal.
Algol handles all of the instruments himself. Guitar, drums, bass, vocals, keyboards, etc. I was never too keen on his former band Forgotten Tomb but I’m quite impressed with what I’ve heard off of “Worship Or Die.” I suppose it’s because he only played bass and didn’t have a chance to flex his creative muscle. Nonetheless, he effortlessly fuses different styles of music into a decidedly black metal foundation. Bluesy rock riffs trade off with groove metal chugging, blast beats meets head on with clean guitar melodies, a Hammond organ meets clean singing and so on. This kind of variety should satisfy the most pretentious and problematic of music critics. And in doing so with the hungry pallete, the transitions flow smoothly without coming off as forced, disjointed or unnecessary.
Opening up with “Worship Or Die”, an ambient Burzum-esque interlude of marital drums and keyboards one would expect this style to play a marginal role throughout the album’s fifty minute plus duration. But it doesn’t and when your album closer “Race With The Devil” is a balls out 70’s influenced rocker free of any black metal influence, you can pretty much do whatever the *** you want. The respective opening and closing tracks are spaced out between dark ambient numbers “Adventum”, complex ten minute epics “Hiems” head banging chug fests “Bringer Of Light” and prog rocking instrumentals 290979”. It’s safe to say that the song writing aspect of this album has been covered extremely well, only magnified by Algol’s powerful and energetic individual performances.
And starting with the individual performances I’d like to mention the stellar guitar work first. Always evolving and rotating into new ideas, Algol has a knack for creating music as instrumentally engaging as it is accessible. The aforementioned groove metal factor lends Hiems a significantly heavier and more catchier tone than most of his peers. The beauty of this record lies in it’s ability to let you rock out and have a good time listening to a black metal song no matter how nihilistic or anti-social the lyrics/music may be. Aside from the said groove influence Algol incorporates plenty of other ideas to keep things balanced. Solos and harmonies, arpeggios and tremolo picking, and even a little death metal shredding all work together to create the heart and soul of this record. I have no complaints whatsoever.
Vocally, Algol alternates between a primary gravel inhaled rasp, a throaty yell and the occasional yet excellent clean singing. Far from being unique or even the best of the genre he still does a nice job in providing a murderous delivery that should appeal to each and any extreme metal fan. The album’s surprise and dark horse contender is undoubtedly “Race Of The Devil” which even though is a cover song from some band called Gun doesn’t stray too far from the album’s formula. Algol’s voice, displayed in perfectly clear English trades off astonishingly well with the driving rhythm section resulting in a highlight that even non metal fans should be able to appreciate. Handling the keyboards/programming in a minimalist approach Algol adds a nice ambient touch without overpowering the aggression or softening the melodies of the album.
Blast beats, blast beats, and even more blast beats pretty much summarize the drumming performance to a t. Along with the animate display of vigor used to create said rapid skull ***ing movements. Well executed but ordinary. The bass on the other hand is a little more vibrant. Not just providing a nice rhythmic touch, Algol solos on occasion which sounds pretty cool. Overall, the rhythm section is handled with care and baalnces out with the guitar/vocals pretty well.
To sum it up in short, Worship is just a kickass black metal record with enough aggression and variety to please just about anybody who listens to the genre. I’m not going to bother making a bull*** comparison to Black Metal’s class of 2009 favorites like Panopticon, Sun Of The Blind, Geist or Wodensthrone but I will recommend this to metal fans. Especially to those who love Enslaved, Opeth, Satyricon or Blut Aus Nord. Good production values, reasonable song lengths, variety, what’s not to love?