11 Jul 2014
Menschheitsdämmerung - Cleaver of Skies and Tenets [EP] (2013, No Sleep Till Megiddo Records)
I lament the direction many black metal groups have taken. In an attempt to achieve atmosphere in the name of depression and deep dark forests, many have taken to ridiculous amounts of distortion in what seems almost a deliberate attempt to obscure their own inability to write compelling material. Burzum's Filosofem had crystal clear production with every instrument standing out, the compositions easily holding their own regardless of sound. Xasthur's Telepathic with the Deceased may well be the album that for many people has incited this infatuation with thick shrouds of noise and an abundance of effects on vocals as well as strings, but even this modern classic has obvious hooks and captivating songwriting.
But thankfully, a band like Menschheitsdämmerung comes along, showing us that not all one-man black metal project are bedroom DSBM wannabes. The style is so far removed from this whole ordeal, focusing largely on huge, swarming riffs in a thrilling environment of envigorating compositions, tempo changes aplenty and variation coming out the ass. Cleaver of Skies and Tenets offers us long-stretched black metal opuses in the spirit of Carpathian Forest, Immortal and other northern acts, revelling in the same groupings of blast beats overtaken by commitment and vigor. It's a veritable surfeit of great, genre-loyal tracks, gripping you right by the balls, pulling you in with sheer force rather than enticing you with long streaks of ambience and atmosphere.
Cleaver of Skies and Tenets is a half an hour of black metal, distributed equally into five tracks. Those thiry minutes are well spent, as there's almost never a dull moment in the company of Frederik, Menschheitsdämmerung's sole member. It has more or less become an artform of knowing when to stop. Slayer should've quit years ago, and the same goes for countless other bands. This release stops just short of becoming an uninspired, watered down shadow of its glorious self. There are times when the progressions come off as predictable and re-used, and the vocals could be clearer in the mix as they mostly remain far in the background to the point where they at times seem almost pointless, contrasting so vividly against the effortless riffing produced on the guitar. Do not cheat yourself out of listening to this. This is black metal with finesse and brutality in equal measures. 8/10 guitars.
1. The Pick
2. The Hunt
3. The Catch
4. The Kill
5. The Feed
Visit Menschheitsdämmerung on Bandcamp
Visit No Sleep Till Megiddo Records