30 Jan 2013

Dead Hills - Purgatory / Winds of Time [Demo] (2012, Cloister Recordings)

I think it's safe to say that Australia's export of metal bands isn't very impressive. Other than a few bands like Portal, Psycroptic, The Berzerker, Vomitor, Abyssic Hate, Sadistik Execution, Hobbs' Angel of Death, Mortal Sin and Deströyer 666 I hardly know any Australian bands worth mentioning, and for a country its size it seems odd that the scene is so relatively small globally. As such Dead Hills with all its depressive black metal tendencies and electronic ambient elements was a rare sight for me.
The Purgatory / Winds of Time demo, which is Dead Hills' debut release, immediately struck me as having a brilliant production and sound. Having listened to a lot of bedroom black metal projects I've experienced that most people apparently think that shitty production is mandatory in black metal. Dead Hills, however, presents its material with an astoundingly solid production. It provides the music with a vigorous guitar sound that still leaves room for plenty of organic warmth aswell as audible drums.

The main thing that draws my attention is the fact that Dead Hills have a thing for epicness. There is something soaring and grandios about the sustained intrepidness of the entire demo, but especially on songs like the 15 minutes long Leaves of Ash has Weaver found room for a certain epic sound that is rarely heard otherwise in the black metal scene. The stark contrast between the tortured Varg Vikernes inspired screams and the beautifully organic and naturesque moods created by the creative riffing is also worth mentioning as this is one of the central elements that makes Dead Hills stand out from so many other black metal acts.

In a scene where there are so few internationally known bands, such as the Australian black metal scene, creating an easily recognizable sound and/or style is imperative. As such I'm not saying that Dead Hills are unique or othwerwise really original - The influences from classic 90's black metal such as Darkthrone and especially Burzum is highly prevalent and dominant, but then again Weaver has a certain touch that makes his music relatively easily distinguishable from the bands from which he takes his inspiration. One might say that the interest for the creative impulses of the classic bands have propelled Dead Hills to a more modern sound without being completely removed from the roots that spawned it.

I was told the demo is to be understood as two seperate demos/albums put into one, and the Purgatory / Winds of Time demo does seem excessively long for just one release, even if most depressive and atmospheric black metal bands tend to produce longer releases. But even so the music itself never gets boring or dreary, and I never felt that anything was missplaced or otherwise didn't fit in. I can see how it would be beneficial to split up the release as it would make it easier to focus on a few of the songs. Having to listen to 1 hour and 30 minutes straight of black metal it makes me grateful that the music doesn't such monumentally. 8/10 guitars.

1. Clearing
2. Purging Fog
3. Nocturnal Hatred
4. After
5. Majesty in Mystery
6. Flight Through the Opaque
7. Twilit Trees

1. Wells
2. The Wilt
3. Haze
4. Leaves of Ash
5. Graveyards Over the Sea

DEAD HILLS official Facebook
Cloister Recordings official site

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