Aesthetics are very important in metal. The bands that impress me the most are often bands that have the aesthetics of a different genre than the one they play, sort of like how Autopsy has the aesthetics of doom metal even though their music is predominantly death metal, or like how Megachurch take elements from indie rock and fast paced rock to create their rather special kind of stoner metal.
To put it simple: Bloodwraith's album "As Above, So Below" from 2012 is an 8-track journey into musical lands that were already well-traveled by the 80's. They definitely have the aesthetics of early black metal bands and some of the more extreme thrash bands, and as such, like so many other bands, Wargoat's Bloodwraith seek back to the very roots of black metal, having a sound rather similar to the thrashy outputs of Bathory and Hellhammer. As such the band already has their work cut out for them, because standing out in that realm is no easy task.
As mentioned "As Above, So Below" bears the familiar tinge of old school European black metal, but actually surprised me a bit with some occassional twists and turns. Other than the kind of jazzy intro track that opens the album and the intermission track "A Black Mirror's Reflection", Bloodwraith's rather simple lineup makes for some pretty solid black metal that surprised me quite a bit every now and then, in both good and bad ways. Mostly the album consists of just straight up lo-fi black metal that has a small amount of appeal in itself, but with some rather daring efforts in the realm of folky clean vocals aswel as
I like how Bloodwraith are comfortable with their own concept, and "As Above, So Below" seems to be a pretty consistent opus. What I think the album is missing is something to make it memorable and outstanding. It has a few hooks now and then, but the overall feeling I have regarding the album is that it's bland and gets boring really quickly. My favourite track by far is the second-to-last track "Beneath the Winter Moon" as it is here the previous efforts on the album culminate into a track that really showcase the variety that Bloodwraith are capable of.
It puzzles me that one of Wargoat's previous bands, Shadows of Sin, apparently also released an album entitled "As Above, So Below" in 2008, and that this album has a lot of the same tracks. I can only guess what the reason for this is, but most likely it's because Shadows of Sin broke up at some point and Wargoat perhaps decided to reuse the songs he wrote under a different moniker.
when all is said and done it comes down to what I wrote earlier: As Above, So Below is a rather forgettable experience, maybe except from Beneath a Winter Moon, and unfortunately is very easily overshadowed by other bands that utilize not only more interesting elements, but also simply write better songs. 5/10 guitars.
1. The Scars of Stars Burn Black
3. As Above, So Below
4. For Lilith
5. A Black Mirror's Reflection
7. Beneath the Winter Moon
8. I, Lucifer
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