Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hrizg - Anthems to Decrepitude (2011)

Hrizg might on the surface seem like another voice in the infinite choir of misanthropy that is the black metal spectrum, but by no means should the man (or band) be casually written off. Hailing from Spain, he handles all compositional and instrumental elements of this album, no easy task in of itself, but more importantly he manages to bridge the gap of atmospheric aesthetics and cult fervor. Anthems to Decrepitude is not a nexus of novel ideas, featuring the same black blazing guitar dynamics we've heard a thousand times over since the earlier years of the 2nd wave in Norway. But given such a spacious and tangible effusion of darkness here, they are once more endowed with the dark and pleasurable elation of spite and obscurity.

Hrizg tends towards a darker, ominous vocal tone that conveys both the dingy dust of primordial death as well as the more inherent, carnal rasp of this genre, and along with the sodden grace of the synthesized backing choirs ("Opposite to Light") or the ambient sequences (the intro to "The Infernal Scripture", the numbing ritual synthesizer swells of finale "Broken Shield" or the acoustic/rain duet of "Invierno") they create a convocation of beckoning shadows. The guitars are in general predictable, but there are some points at which they take you by surprise, such the forceful, dire melodic agony of "Necrosanctum" for one, or the stern, doom-like strains of "Angercraft", or the gleaming arc of depression "In Solitude". In addition, a fluid sense of dynamic variation permeates the experience, meaning that you'll never hear quite the same song twice, a relief among a cloudy haze of similar artists. A few of the tracks feature have some less interesting guitars embedded within them ("Into the Caves of Earth", "I Hate" for example), but even these shift towards vile hypnosis after a few cycles.

These Anthems to Decrepitude do require a few complete listens to sink themselves into the listener's conscience, not that they lack accessible components, but it might be easy to ignore their overall, ebbing flow of bitterness. Like most of the better atmospheric black metal acts, Hrizg is not openly confrontational. It haunts you from the corners, from the depths of the unseen, from an ancient corridor that most fear to tread alone. The solitude of the artist who wrote and performed this is conveyed fully through the leeching effect it has on the witness, and while it's perhaps not the most inspired example of its class, it at least demands repeated listens, especially when one can set the proper mood and atmosphere to indulge it.

Verdict: Win [7.5/10]

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