Review Summary: If you are lucky enough, it will crush you and leave you craving for more.
The Ruins of Beverast is Alexander von Meilenwald’s (previously in Nagelfar) solo project. Alexander opts for a rather unique brand of black metal that incorporates OSDM, doom and experimental elements as well as many other components that create a very dark and haunting atmosphere. Labelling music aside, the album works great as a unified whole and maintains a very unique sound, full of amazing little details that really bring it to “life”.
Moving away from the murky production of his previous effort, Meleinwald presents us with a cleaner, much more heavy and direct sound to help enchance the hitting power of the riffs. This is a decision driven by the far more traceable influence from OSDM and doom on this album. The atmosphere is just as tangible though, don't be mistaken. I'd even go as far as to say that this is a very introverted album. Whereas "Rain upon the impure" projected a vast soundscape that you felt lost in, "Foulest semen..." induces feelings of claustrophobia.
The music here can be emotional at times and even has some catchy riffs but the main focus is on the atmosphere. There is a feeling of helplessness, amplified by the long duration of the album. It’s like drowning in a huge room where dissonance reigns. It is a journey through lands full of hellish imagery and scenes of a grotesque quality. It is bound to tire most listeners off and drive them away. However, if you are lucky enough, it will crush you and leave you craving for more. To create this atmosphere, Alexander uses the keyboards very wisely without overdoing it at any time. Various other effects make an appearance here and create a rather diverse background to accompany the monotony of the guitar riffs.
The vocal aspect of the band is definitely one of the strongest. Alexander may not have any formal training (or in any other instrument for that matter) but he uses his numerous singing styles to great effect. With the music being heavier in tone than most black metal, he uses many kinds of rasps and growls instead of the traditional black metal shriek. Choral chants make an appearance in many tracks as well, either from Alexander himself or from samples. This really adds to the atmosphere and creates a contrast between the tight sound of the guitars and the resonance of his voice.
Another thing that differentiates tRoB from many other bands is the approach on the lyrical part. Here, the focus is on the lyrics just as much as the music and Alexander puts a great deal of effort into them, sometimes even before the songs are composed to make sure the sound follows the theme. His lyrics are very cynical and rather poetic, drawing from many influences, mainly history and mythology, to create a bleak image of our world and the things that plight the human race.
In the end, this is not an easy album to listen to. It’s 80 minutes long which is double the length of most LPs, it rarely let’s go of the claustrophobic atmosphere and the heaviness, and at times can simply be too much to digest. Approach with an open mind and you shall be rewarded.