Review Summary: Beyond the borders of the known world
Alexander von Meilenwald's journey over the past two decades has been quite interesting, one might say. In each new chapter, his blackened signature sound has been adding more and more nuances and textures to its initial stroke, thus expanding the boundaries of his stylistic spectrum. However, his path has not been erratic or troubled, on the contrary, it has proved to be a straight line ride, coherent with its past but unafraid to explore new territories. If we listen carefully, we can easily find contact points between the debut album Unlock the Shrine
and this brand new chapter, namely the gothic nuances which have always accompanied his work. This shows that despite its adventurous side The Ruins of Beverast
has been built on strong foundations, thus mirroring a strong personality.
"Thule", which in classical sources is usually a place or island in the far north, often referred to as a distant place located beyond the borders of the known world, is the conceptual site where Alexander's new narrative roams. Symbolically, I have always found this place quite terrifying, as it represents in a way the demise of what we take for granted, where the world, as we know it, ends. I'm not sure if my perception of this place coincides exactly with Alexander's, and that doesn't matter either, but judging by the album's cover and the atmosphere surrounding The Thule Grimoires
, I believe we both share a similar feeling.
As I mentioned earlier, The Thule Grimoires
presents the gothic nuances of the past, but now with greater predominance. The Type O Negative-ish approach in a song such as 'Deserts to Bind and Defeat', the 80's-esque goth 'Kromlec'h Knell', or the clean vocals in 'Anchoress in Furs' are among the most evident manifestations of these gothic tones. In fact, the entire album is layered by these dark hues, lending it an elegance that pushes Alexander's sound to another whole new level. By this, I don't mean that his signature sound has lost any of its early energy, it's just better focused. The meticulous production is also a precious asset that catapults music, materializing the original idea perfectly. I love it when a black metal musician is not afraid to use the benefits of sound engineering to his advantage. The somber soundscapes that shape The Thule Grimoires
are thus born not only from Alexander's creativity but also from the top-notch production that enhances them.
One of the album's most fascinating aspects is the dynamics and contrasts present in every song. Its crescendos, subtle details, and surrounding atmosphere become increasingly seductive in each listening, slowly revealing its true nature. The Thule Grimoires
is therefore an album that gradually shows its true colors, progressively unveiling new secrets, new emotions. Each song has its own voice and character, being a relevant piece of the global narrative, however, despite this overall flair, songs such as the opener 'Ropes into Eden', 'Polar Hiss Hysteria', and 'Deserts to Bind and Defeat', should be highlighted due to their inherent dynamics and mystical aura.
The Thule Grimoires
is yet another exciting chapter in Alexander von Meilenwald's creative journey which takes us beyond the dark borders of the known world. It is a stylistic expansion that introduces not only new layers of catchiness but also a sound engineering that matches Alexander's musical ambition. These monolithic soundscapes are thus the testimony of a grown-up musician who displays his gloomy universe within an elegant frame, and I, as a spectator and listener, am convinced that this set of ancestral incantations will be among the finest conjurations of 2021.