Released: 2002, Earache Records
Reviewer: Night of the Realm
(Note: Originally released in 2000 on Code666)
This album, with its bland, uninspiring artwork, caught my ear upon first listen when I unpacked my latest stack of albums from Metal-Rules.com HQ. Letting the music speak for itself, I popped this little promo into my player, and was entranced from beginning until end by the beauty and captivating atmosphere of this band. The only way to describe this band is “extreme fantasy metal,” or “epic dark metal.” However one may label this band, they cannot be pigeonholed; their sound is excellent, and unique.
Rakoth is a three-piece band hailing from Russia, and PLANESHIFT, their fourth album (two demos and their debut precede this release), was originally released in 2000 on Italy’s Code666 label. Earache records has recently signed the band and re-released PLANESHIFT on their Elitist division. Their sound ranges from haunting atmospheric passages and soulful flute interludes to raw, fast riffing, and utilizes both clean and growled vocals. This is a most interesting mix. The sound on this album reminds me of the epic, dark nature of Summoning meets the folk-BM style of old Cruachan, with a bit of Italy’s Stormlord thrown in.
The first full track on the album following a brief intro is “Fear (Wasn’t In The Design),” and opens with a brief piano piece, then segues into a mid-paced, catchy riff just before the flute and folkish clean vocals kick in. Several minutes into the song, the tone changes from mid-paced to hyperspeed drums, raw riffing, and growling vocals, a most unique combination. “Noldor Exodus” comes next, a haunting instrumental with a tearful flute piece that captures the essence of The Silmarillion. This is but one of the tracks on the album inspired by the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. Rakoth also draw inspiration from the fantasy novel series, Forgotten Realms in “Og’elend,” which details the story of a dark elf, a drow, who rejects the evil ways of his barbaric people, much like the heroic dark elf, Drizzt Do’Urden in R.A. Salvatore’s Dark Elf Saga and subsequent works. Inspiration for other tracks, and even the band’s name, are drawn from Nick Perumov’s (a Russian writer, I believe) “Chronicles Of Hjorvard,” another fantasy work. My favourite tracks on this album include “Fear (Wasn’t In The Design),” “Planeshift,’ similar in style to “Fear” with a very fast blastbeat part that reminds me somewhat of Immortal meets Hollenthon, and “The Unquiet Grave,” a doomy closer for the album leading .
My only complaint about this album is the use of a drum machine. I believe that there is no substituting a machine for a real drummer. Though the drum machine does not detract much from the overall sound, the difference is notable in some places. The rest of this album is an hypnotic piece of epic and atmospheric metal. Unfortunately, my copy right now is only a slipcase promo without liner notes, lyrics, or artwork, but rest assured, I will be tracking down an official copy of this album as soon as I can. Check this gem out. Do not let this album pass you by!