Strange Old Brew
Review by Felix on June 9, 2019.
Probably you agree that Carpathian Forest cannot be deemed as a streamlined black metal band. A horror piece like "House of the Whipcord" sends greetings to King Diamond, but the Norwegians have added some uncomfortable saxophone lines. Albeit this number is free from any metallic guitars, its vibes match the remaining musical content. Moreover, this slowly creeping piece sounds much more interesting and extraordinary than the following metal song, which also is also based on pretty sluggish rhythms. Generally speaking, the band does not put the focus on velocity. Baggy, Celtic Frost inspired riffs and ominous background choirs are important components as well. Yes, this album has a lot to offer and does not fall victim to the strict guidelines of the pure black metal dogma. This does not mean that each and every song hits the bull's eye, but even a non-metallic instrumental ("Theme from Nekromantikk") with its strong melody lines is pretty charming, to say the least.
On the other hand, there is still a couple of comparatively generic black metal tracks. Especially the first part of the album does not lack aggression and fury. The band kept a close eye on the bass guitar during the recordings and so pieces like "Bloodcleansing" demonstrate the advantage of a well audible four string. Of course, a prominent bass guitar alone cannot save an album, but don't worry, Carpathian Forest have always been reliable songwriters, occasional flops not excluded. "Slave of the Mask" bundles the strengths of the formation properly. A casual riff, commanding vocals, a good flow with a memorable chorus and delicate lyrics ("you are his toilet seat") are cleverly combined.
Maybe the mystical atmosphere of very early black metal, remember, for instance, the first outputs of Ancient, Gehenna or, well, Carpathian Forest, comes off badly, but the terrifying solemnity of "Thanatology" makes up for this. The more the listener gets drawn into this album, the more she or he can discover appealing facets. Inter alia Immortal's "Pure Holocaust" has taught us that one-dimensional black metal works can be very impressive. Nevertheless, diversity is no shame and Carpathian Forest connect the different sounds in a meaningful manner.
Production-wise, the album meets the standards of the sub-genre. In other words, it is not the result of an excessive stay in the recording studios where some highly paid sound gurus took care for each and every detail. But the mix sprays the necessary dose of dark coldness and avoids any type of major flaws. It is a pity that a few tracks remain on a solid level without exploiting the entire potential of the group, for example "Martyr / Sacrificulum" or "Cloak of Midnight", two further numbers, the intro and "The Good Old Enema Treatment" do not offer any kind of music. Consequently, this is not the best album of the talented sadomasochistic maniacs, but still an album every fan of Norwegian blackness should be familiar with.
Rating: 7.4 out of 10