Friday, July 3, 2015

Hail - Bestial Storms of the Abyssal Pit [DEMO] (2001, re-released 2015)

Before critiquing a demo like Bestial Storms of the Abyssal Pit, it's probably important to place it into context. This is a recording by Finland's Hail from just after the turn of the century, now seeing the light as an accompaniment to their new Lawgiver EP, but made of somewhat cruder material than their prior full-length Inheritance of Evilness from 2003, which was an unknown gem of the scene. So, hailing (sorry) from the birth of the band in 2001, one shouldn't really expect a high level of cohesion and professionalism, and thus there can't really be much of a sense of disappointment when that is exactly how the material here is delivered. Raw, slightly chaotic black metal which likely doesn't sound distinct from a hundred or so other bands at the demo stage, but that is not to say that it is necessarily bad, and even from these earlier details one can assume that Hail were not completely relying on the 'blast first, think later' qualities of the medium. They can certainly perform in that capacity, but the core aesthetic to this EP and so many of it ilk is that resonating, evil vibe off the riffing and lack of production values.

The cover of this new MCD release is indeed surreal and compelling, but I can't claim that the music quite lived up to it, even though it offers visual cues to the songs. These guys vomit forth tracks with amusing titles such as "Lava of the Cavernous Cave" or "The Great Semen of Satan's Mantis", and I'm not sure whether or not they were intentionally going for a laugh, or it's just a translation issue, but where some might see that as a flaw, I found it personable. As for the material itself, it is comprised of extremely loud, ghastly vocals which veer between the genre's traditional rasping and some hoarser, disheveled elements that actually sound like a human being regurgitating toxic waste. The vocals are so echoed and stand out so much from the other instruments that they can prove a distraction, however when they disappear you can hear the clashing clutter of the drums, especially the cymbals, and the wildly aberrant leads (like in the closing of "The Great Semen..."). The riff structure of the rhythm guitar is rooted in speed, thrash and punk as most trad black metal of the Bathory lineage, and not a lot of the chord progressions really stand out, but then I'm not so sure that's the point of them, but rather to contribute to the wishy-washy, hostile lo-fi atmosphere.

The third track, "Evocations in a Crypt at an Ominous Forest" is the darkest sounding of the three, because it lacks the firmer riffing qualities and is instead feeling almost improvisational with its crashing percussion and mix of acidic and melancholic guitars. Unfortunately, I didn't find the musical choices on the guitars as creepy as I'd have liked, and the vocals just seem to run away with the whole recording. So far as I can tell, the band has only had one member, the Dirtmaster, and he lives up to his handle by composing aural atrocities that only a small slice of even the black metal audience are going to find merit LEAST on this demo, because the Lawgiver and first full-length have better sounding production that doesn't detract from the sinister intentions. So Bestial Storms of the Abyssal Pit is really meant to suit its purpose as an artifact of this musician's career, and appeal strictly to those who enjoy the rawest, most loosely structured demo recordings of black metal's past. And to that extent, it maintains enough of a crude charisma to satisfy the purpose, but if prompted I would far rather listen to the other Hail recordings.

Verdict: Indifference [5.75/10]

No comments: