Usually when I listen to music to review I like to give a few listens before I write it, but in the case of Countess' newest album "On Wings of Defiance" I had to give up after a mere two listens. That's all I could bear.
I could go on and on about what's wrong with the album... So that's what I'm going to do: First of all the guitar tone is completely atrocious, sounding more like a failed attempt to play Dire Straits à la Satan than... Well, any metal genre really. The album starts out with an 8-minute epic with insanely monotonous and single-tracked drums which begs the question if Orlok, the sole member of Countess, knows anything about drum-programming. Vocal-wise he doesn't fair much better, and half-way into the first track I'd already grown bored and slighty irritated with his generic, incessant barking.
Apparently Countess' idea of a great album is an hour long pile of completely unvaried, beginner-level black metal riffs with equally unvaried vocals and drums. The only thing that comes close to variation on "On Wings of Defiance" is the entirely arbitrary changes between Scandinavian and Mediterranean sounding melodic riffs.
Enough of the senseless ranting. Boiled down to a few sentences, Countess' 2011 album is little more than unvaried sub-standard Bathory-influenced black metal with cheesy MIDI-keyboard sounds. I remember there was a time where I thought all one-man bands were awesome, but some of my more recent acquaintances have certainly made me rethink that notion.
I admire a band that can be persistent, and Countess has released a multitude of albums over the years since its' creation in 1992, but if all of those releases are equally lacking as On Wings of Defiance things are looking grim... And not in a good way.
But it's not all bad, I actually moderately enjoyed the song Foggy Dew, the 8-minute 6th track of the 11 track album. But if I had to choose between Bathory, by whom Countess is obviously inspired, I would always choose Bathory, even if Quorthon also had his dodgy moments when it came to vocal performance. Orlok's Countess merely feels like a watered down Bathory with the same boring riffs played ad nauseum. 4/10 guitars.
1. Where Eagles Die
2. I am the Infidel
3. Let the River Run Red
5. At the Hot Gates I Stand
6. Foggy Dew
7. Sermon of the Devil Preacher
8. An Emperor's Stand
9. On Wings of Defiance
10. Night of the Demon (Demon Cover)
11. In League with Satan (Venom Cover)
COUNTESS official site
Barbarian Wrath official site