Thursday, March 3, 2011

Warfield - Triumvirat EP (2010)

The press release I read for this EP brought up some comparisons to certain Swedish and French black metal artists, and Warfield is really not that far off the mark, but I'd hearken the sound here straight back to the early through mid 90s of Emperor, such as In the Nightside Eclipse, sans the symphonic elements. A lot of shining, higher pitched chords being bled into the blasting tempos, and a grandiose architecture of pain that spans the antiquity of the genre. However, Triumvirat is somewhat of a novelty in that it claims no Norse heritage...Warfield are in fact from Mexico City. While I've never heard their 2009 debut Conquering the Black Horde, the new studio material represented here is quite well written, with a few mildly unexpected turns.

There are but three studio components, opening with the glistening dementia of "The Initiate", a storm of solid drumming and epic notation that creates the impression of threatening winds that gather upon the precipice of nightfall. Nothing you've not heard before, if you've been listening to European black metal for the past 20 years, but the formula still sounds efficient with Hellfire's thick rasping, and I also enjoyed how they just let the track fade out into feedback post-climax. "Divinity" is more of a straight burst of savagery ala early Emperor/Enslaved, with the guitars flexing a frantic subtext not unlike something Samoth might pull, and the third and final new cut "Trinity" opens at a lurch and then builds into a nuclear descent of bright blackness with some poignant, subtle strangeness in a few of the bridging chord patterns. There's also a moody breakdown at its core, a cloud of melancholy that sets like crematorium ashes on the listener.

The remainder of the offering consists of live tracks, which while crudely mixed do cast the impression that Warfield is a fun live experience. In particular I enjoyed the sweeping classical sample intro and then the eruption of "Vomit on the Cross". The sound quality is pretty much crap here, I won't lie, and you can't always make out the guitars through the hammer-like drums and the vocal splatter, but it sounds undeniably energetic, as do the other live hymns like the hilariously titled "Satanic Legislation", which is disgustingly barbaric thanks to the force of the drums. Taken as an integral part of this release, the live cuts do not offer a lot of value, but as icing on the cake for the new studio material, they'll suffice. Otherwise, while Triumvirat is not bringing anything new to the sacrificial altar, the Warfield trio prove that they have the ability and energy to perform a faithful interpretation of traditional black, without sounding tired.

Verdict: Win [7/10]

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