Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bound By Entrails - The Oath To Forbear And The Burden Of Inheritance

This is all wrong. Bound By Entrails neither comes off as an ultra-complex Emperor infused blast parade, or looks the part of the Scandinavian gods but they sure capture that essence of blackened hellfire in their sound. "The Oath To Forbear And The Burden Of Inheritance" is quite the output; never ceasing, always pounding, and continually stimulating. The album art? An artistic representation of Alaskan mountains and a serene calm lake illuminated by a glowing full moon. Now, I'm not saying that mountains and a lake can't be "never ceasing" or "pounding" and they can certainly be intellectually stimulating... but I was expecting a more atmospheric styled band with some psychedelic flourishes in the style of Wolves in the Throne Room; an artsy black metal attack (Seriously, take a look at that logo), not a variation on Emperor's "In The Nightside Eclipse."

So, I'm staring at "TOTFATBOI" with this preconceived expectation and I turn over the Digi-pak and see the tracks including a cover of "Inno A Satana." Ok... odd cover choice for a modern artsy black metal band. I toss the CD into the stereo and "Voices Of The Past" proves me right. It is some modern collegiate black project made by members of the local university's jazz ensemble. I'm listening to a band influenced by Auspicium's musical textures! This is going to be easy! Wait... that was an intro? Bound By Entrails are fucking me? "Voices Of The Past" is that playful musical joke; you think we are going to be this so we will give you that and then crush your predictions with the real opening track*.

That track? "The Furious Host," a blistering rampage through demonic incantations and haunted dinner parties. Fast, angry - furious even - and technically keen, there is little to dispute about this track as far as epitomizing the black metal audsthetic** and nurturing any metal heads love for cheetah-like staccato meddling. Without blowing their load, Bound By Entrails have dispatched my falsely wrought notions, drawn me into their icy hellish world, and left me expecting a track to triumph what I consider to be a great opening salvo.

They deliver with my favorite song on the release, "Seafarer's Journey," a Primordial structured epic about pirates and Vikings and fishermen and the angry balding Joe Pesci look-a-like two blocks away who leaves his twelve foot fiberglass dingy out in his driveway. It's a song about anyone who sails, who dares the waves and shines a waving banner in their watery visages as the crests crash against the decking of the only thing protecting them from the fathoms of death waiting all around. A song about the memories the oceans and seas call prisoner (remember that Auspicium reference?). Clean vocals shed their disguise in the track, harsh vocals mimic the chaotic blowing of wind and swirling guitar melodies both swoon and scare. For me, "Seafarer's Journey" is an account of the ocean told through music, a pure musical painting, unbiased and honest. Symphonics play a role in the track as well adding texture but never hijacking the vessel. The talents of the whole band are shown - the virtuosity of guitarists Jeremy and Brett and the ability of drummer Tyler. Though the bass is mixed down, and not particularly fascinating, Billy Harbour's keyboard playing shines like stolen gold. The song conjures many moods as well - not an easy feat for even talented bands. Bound By Entrails has accomplished this elusive goal.

The album falters slightly here for me though. Though maybe a reaction of my own mind, thinking "they can't do better than that... really, they cant..." I do find myself drifting away from the music, focus easily distracted. "This Too Shall Pass" is a continuation of the end of "Voices of the Past" minus the Sahgish vocals. "Under The Midnight Sun" lacks the memorability and gripping factors, basically existing as a filler track. Though "Tides of Redemption" strangles me for a moment with a great opening riff and some awesome melodies, it's counterpart is generally uninspired. Bland, forgettable and dragging on for what seems like an eternity. Then, Bound By Entrails nails the Emperor cover. What I found is that the TOTFATBOI ends with "Tides of Perdition," ultimately leaving us with two intro/intermission pieces and five lengthy real songs. The Emperor cover and an additional live track of "Across The Dead Night Sky" acting as non-labeled bonus tracks. The live track is monstrous, an awesome recording. The production is powerful and clear - probably my second favorite track or third behind "Tides of Redemption."

This is an enjoyable album. Fans of Emperor or symphonic black metal will eagerly find diamonds among the rough on this unknown release. Don't let the cover judge this book for you; the contents are deadly, maybe more deadly with the unassuming album art. In a way, the disc is a lot like Tartaros' "The Red Jewel." Though not nearly as symphonic, Bound By Entrails' "The Oath To Forbear And The Burden Of Inheritance" falls into the same awkward artwork / strong music category as the previously mentioned black metal land mine.

* Introduction, "Voices of the Past" has a particularly psychedelic undertone. Sahg comes to mind... their first album, mostly due to the airy vocals. It has that ambient feel/vibe though also; obscure horns and aboriginal instruments succinctly summon "The Furious Host."

**Yeah, I made that one up.

No comments: