Review Summary: If only Hitler wore corpse paint…
The cold, frigid mother land of Russia is the perfect breeding ground for contempt and misanthropy, setting the tone for a wicked black metal scene that seems largely forgotten when anything black metal is being discussed (*if anyone reverts another bm conversation to Darkthrone ever again, they will be chastised!). Besides the endless winters in the northern parts of the country, the years of cold war and communist grip on the country could have only fuelled the fires of hatred in the ideological views of these black metal Soviets. Ok, so maybe the latter two catalysts might go over the heads of some of these bands considering their age and all, but that doesn’t mean that the bitterness of these said hardships (or godsends depending on your views) weren’t passed down through the generations of their elders. Here’s another spin on the whole misanthropic indulgence that black metalists pride themselves on; National Socialist themes that will surely have people ‘Sieg Heiling’ their black metal flags. M8l8th is a Russian black metal band who prides themselves as part of the NSBM scene. If this has scared you away already, I will guarantee this: they will win you over if you are any sort of a fan of black metal whatsoever. If you’re still reading this review, you have to understand that music like this is created from the seeds of hatred and to be quite honest, I don’t agree with anything that these themes pertain to. While I’m walking a fine line here, I would also just like to say that even though these themes disgust me, it’s what inspires M8L8TH to create the blazing black metal that is presented here on By the Wings of Black
. Remember kids, misanthropy is born of hatred and what better theme to go by when creating music inspired by these very subjects that bring about the decline of morality within society.
If you’ve got past the whole “Nazi’s are bad people and I won’t listen to music with that particular stigmata attached to it”, then you’re in for a treat. Getting past the motivating speech of “Prologue” (I can only guess this is an excerpt from a Hitler speech), “By the Fallen Leaves” opens up with an incredible set of chords that spans the entire song and spirals upward into a rousing crescendo. This sets the tone for the rest of the album, not so much the crescendo part but how the band isn’t afraid to use a wide variety of dynamics and tempo speeds. It’s this welcome change of pace from most black metal (hyper blast beats and masturbatory usage of tremolo picking) that make this such an enjoyable listen from start to finish. This is not to say that none of these features appear within the songs, they’re just used in good taste and never overstay they’re welcome. To further compliment this fresh take on black metal, the traditional use of standard metal techniques (think Iron Maiden’s/ Judas Priest’s galloping, melodic leads) are seamlessly interspersed within the framework of black metal’s cold, atmospheric aesthetics and speedy, wall of sound delivery. It’s noteworthy to say that the band has also opted not to play the kvlt production standards that quite frankly, I’m getting sick and tired of. Sometimes I feel black metal bands use this production technique to cover-up just how unspectacular they are at their instruments. M8l8th are fantastic musicians and instead of muffling their compositions with a white-wash of haze, the songs utilize an almost fuzzy, clean tone giving the instruments enough room to breathe and allowing even the most unseasoned black metal fans a chance to find something interesting within the instrument execution. Top all this off with the wicked banshee screams of a singer who is apparently incarcerated in a prison psychiatric ward for the accusations of four murders/ robbery and you have the makings of an instant black metal classic.
Picking out favourites on this is tough since all seven tracks, not including the intro, are vastly unique from one another in terms of dynamics, tempo changes, and overall influences brought to the table. As the album progresses, the listener will realize that the last two tracks on here (“Beyond the Twilights” and “By the Wings of Black”) are the quintessential songs to the above descriptions and are absolute center pieces to any ‘best of’ black metal tracks (Yes, they are that good!). By the Wings of Black
is not only the proper way of playing traditional black metal, the album also contains some of the most memorable songwriting to ever grace the frigid lands of black metals harsh territory. It’s too bad that such great songwriting is tainted by ideology that was influenced by one of the most evil men on the face of this earth. However, personal values aside, when black metal is played with this much passion, who really cares what inspires the band in the first place. This is a raw form of music that is based on hatred such as this to begin with and you have to give a band credit for using this to their full advantage, despite how controversial they may seem. I salute these guys with a huge ‘Seig Heil’ and so should you!