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The Dark Emperor Ov The Shadow Realm
Released: 2014, N/A
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
2014 seems to be the perfect year to be involved with black metal music. Be it as a fan or as a musician plying their trade in the most extreme of metal, you can't really find a better year than the one where Norse anti-gods EMPEROR return to celebrate their debut's 20th anniversary. So it seems apt for HUMUT TABAL to be releasing their sophomore “The Dark Emperor Ov The Shadow Realm”.
HUMUT TABAL namecheck their heroes and inspiration as the aforemtentioned EMPEROR as well as MAYHEM, SATYRICON and DISSECTION, and it is plainly apparent in the overall sound of “The Dark Emperor Ov The Shadow Realm”. On first listen, it instantly harks back to the cold, blurred fury found on EMPEROR's seminal classic “In The Nightside Eclipse” and makes for a great nostalgia trip. Even opener “Across The Boundless Land Ov Death” tips a darkened hat in the direction of “I Am The Black Wizards”, breathing into life with frenetic riffage and bombastic drums. Even Grimzaar's wretched shriek could have been a take from their Nordic brethren's debut.
It's almost comforting to hear such familiar tones when listening through “The Dark Emperor Ov The Shadow Realm” - each track blends a flurry of wicked tremolo riffs and cold atmosphere. “Alone, In Purest Silence” demonstrates this formula with aplomb, and combines it with military blasts, whilst “Wielder Ov The Daemon Blade” makes use of a great mid-tempo stomp and hypnotic clean passage to supplement the frothing, primal fury. There is almost a sense of epic-ness beyond proportion to the album – whilst the concept (“the tale of a misanthrope in a post-apocalyptic wasteland who experiments with established occult practices before looking solely inward and transcending the physical and spiritual bonds of the world and of human preconception”) doesn't seem too esoteric and requiring of a more grandiose sound, there is a majesty about it which makes listening that much better.
There is a small production issue, however, where the vocals seem to become lost in certain tracks amid the tumultuous riffs (the album opener, for instance), whilst there are times when the drums, and in particular the hi-hat, feels too loud and contributes to a blurring of noise. Naturally, if the intention is to go for lo-fi sound then there's no need to complain, however the album is generally well-mixed – the guitars and bass sit well together to allow Grimzaar and Aed's performances to shine through, whilst the rest of Njord's kit is finely balanced and showcases his incredible ability (some of his blasting and fills are exceptional).
HUMUT TABAL's sophomore release is a dark and atmospheric musical telling of an equally bleak tale. It's a strangely grand-feeling album that wears its influences upon its sleeve unabashedly, and for that it seems to pay off – you want a little of the Nordic forefathers of black metal rolled into one? Certainly, here's your album.
Review by: Lee Carter
1. Across The Boundless Land Ov Death
2. Through The Forest & Twisting Shadow
3. Furious Winged Helldaemons Soar
4. Alone, In Purest Silence
5. The Misanthrope Ov The Barren Waste Becomes
6. Wielder Ov The Daemon Blade
7. In The Shade Ov Lord Satan's Wings
8. Dark Emperor Ov The Shadow Realm
Grimzaar – Vocals & Guitar,
Njord – Drums & Percussion,
Aed – Bass.
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