1.) Storms over Carpathia 05:42
2.) Ad Altare Sanguinem 05:49
3.) In Virgins Blood 03:48
4.) Ululation of the Grief Stricken Peasants 05:45
5.) Screams Over Carpathia 02:40 instrumental
6.) Orgasm Leading to Death 04:43
7.) Ferenc Nádasdy 05:38
8.) 21-08-16140 05:40
As I drift across this vast globe searching for new bands to review I find myself back in a place I call home. As I place my achey bones down on a hill side I cast a cold gaze across the moors. As my boney lifeless fingers reach for my flask I pour the golden nectar of Yorkshire tea into my cup, take a slow sip and savour not just the flavour of home but the sites and the sounds. Little did I know that I was to stumble across a band at the same time.
As I press play on my battered cassette Walkman that has seen as many better day as my weather beaten skull. I draw back my heavy dust ridden hood and place the soft orange sponges of foam against my skull, light up a cigarette and prepare myself for an extreme sense of hell battery of emense proportions.
Track 1 Storms over Carpathia opens with a loud thunder crack setting the scene ready for the onslaught of guitar riffs and incredible blast beats. The Countesses vocals are truly something to behold, both fierce, throaty and rasping that can match any males vocals out there. They definitely fit the style of both Nattefrost of Carpathian Forest and Nag of Tsjuder. This opening track is a blinder of an opening track. Its no holds barred, balls to the wall ferocity and to top it all off the production levels are first rate. That being said the subtle tempo changes throughout the track keep the listener engaged and embraced in the awe of how powerful this act truly is.
Track 2 Ad Altare Sanguinem which translates to “Blood at the Altar” opens even more ferociously than its predecessor. The drumming hits you straight away the thunderous sound of the double kick and the battery of the blast beats is enough to punch a whole right through you. The guitars are more stripped back in the mix, whilst still there this is more of a drum enriched track, the guitar’s have a great rhythm to them that compliment the drums and bass with no faults at all. With a few little solos peeking through in opportunities this track definitely has some of that bold thrash attack to it and the little breakdowns definitely relieve your ears and shift the pace just enough to catch your breath.
Track 3 in Virgins Blood is definitely one of the shortest tracks upon the album bar the instrumental. However that doesn’t mean that this track lacks in any sense or form at all. A great rhythmical track and some light Iron Maiden influences creep through with a black metal twist on it is excellent. A great guitar solo within the final verse really polishes this track off a stunning nod to classic N.W.O.B.H.M yet still retaining that icy black metal feel.
Track 4 Ululation of the Grief Stricken Peasants is a little slower in pace in comparison to that of its predecessing tracks. That’s not to say that the b.m. blast beats aren’t there nor that familiar icy tremolo riff either. This track has an almost dungeon metal or even battle metal element to it. The guitars replicate an almost medieval riff like quality to them and it is here where the album takes on a whole new dynamic. Vocals are once again on point and literally drown you in pure darkness with their dark and rasping qualities. These are backed by a great layering of much more gutteral vocals from the Countess just like the prior two tracks. This just provides a more tenner effect making them more death metal like in places.
Track 5 Screams Over Carpathia is the Instrumental on this stunningly dark album and certainly gels well with the previous track. As described in the track above the guitars were using a much more medieval sound and rhythm. So whilst the instruments on this is solely synth work it certainly ajoins the previous track and acts as an almost part two. This little almost medieval dungeon synth piece incorporates some sample screams and what only sounds like she’s being tortured in some of the most Unholy and evil ways. The sounds of chains and other torturous equipment inhabit the spaces where no screams dwell that is till the demons deep and savage roars ring out and drown that of the female victim.
Track 6 Orgasm Leading to Death rips open with an incredible freezing riff, bringing back the chaos of the previous tracks. This track is filled with killer riffs and some amazing drumming. This coupled with incredible slow breakdowns between verses, giving this track both a sense of grandeur and an almost gripping and suspenseful feeling. The music certainly fits the title with the many tempo changes matching that of a almost orgasmic pleasure being delivered to the listener.
Track 7 Ferenc Nádasdy is not just a killer track but also a history lesson, hidden in both the title and the lyrics. For those who have a little knowledge of the subject the name of this track is dedicated to none other than Elizabeth Bathory’s husband who also had the title of the Black Night. Now another band that had such a connection both musically and as an interest in the same subject matter is Dani Filth of Cradle Of Filth. This being documented on their album Cruelty and the Beast which depicted with a lady in a bath of blood, as believed to have been what Countess Bathory bathed in. This track has some really gritty and low end riffs from the rhythm guitars not to mention the addition of some cold tremolo picked sections. The pace of this track peaks and dips into some beautifully slow and almost regal riffs fitting the majesty of Ferenc Nádasdy’s name, when the more cathartic riffs drop in it matches his military and battle hungry methods in which he fought.
Track 8 21-08-1614 again is a historical nod towards the later subjects late Wife Countess Bathory. This slow and somber tracks title and lyrical subject matter is of the date The Countess was believed to have past. The music certainly fits the title once again and it creates that of a slow and untimely death that she suffered locked away in the Dungeon. This closing track of the album is not just any old track but a devotion to that of Countess Bathory. As the closing of the track rings out in an epic riff fest the vocals come through amidst the coughs and splutters saying “I Will Rise Again”. This a noteable and foreboding ending to an amazing concept album of a gruesome yet grim tale of a Countess with an insatiable appetite for the grim and the macabre.
It’s easy to say that this has been an amazing album from start to finish and one that has been built on a popular concept notably done well. I feel this album has managed to capture the much darker and bleaker side of the Countess and her brutal lust for that of the crimson. Its a much more stripped back take on the subject less romanticised than the likes of Cruelty & The Beast by Cradle Of Filth with their passion on the same subject. This feels much more deeper and grittier on every level. From the production being first rate to that of the musicianship and vocal performance being delivered this album and the act does not disappoint in any shape or form. Not to mention with a slurry of Vampire black metal bands that are doing the rounds this has the ability to rise above those and anything the proceeds it. All in all I have been more than pleasantly surprised by this and after countless listens while I put quill to parchment.
It is easy to say all hail the Countess.
Lord of the Shadows