Rating:
9.0
Byfrost - Black Earth
11 June 2010


01. Horns To The Sky
02. Black Earth
03. Night Of Damnation
04. Lord Victorious
05. Desire
06. Wings Of The Angel Of Death
07. Evil Arise
08. Skull Of God


You know that feeling. You buy some obscure brand of beer you have never tasted before, also because it's quite new to the market. You expect nothing special when you take it out of your fridge. Just another run-of-the-mill brew. The moment you taste and swallow it, you realise that you've been missing out on something great, because it sends cold, ecstatic joy down your throat. It tastes fresh, yet it carries subtle aftertastes of all the great beers you've tasted before. The glass is empty before you know it. You want more.

Byfrost's Black Earth may just be enough to give you a musical equivalent of that beery adventure. Think mid- to late-period Immortal - the spirit of black metal is firmly in place, but the riffs are becoming suspiciously, albeit gloriously, thrashy. This summarizes Byfrost's music quite well. Even the vocals are similar. But don't let this makeshift definition fool you. The band utilizes well-known ingredients, but mixes them in their own way, and does it so powerfully, with so much verve, vim and vigor, with such irresistible and disarming conviction, that it's impossible to resist.

Your foot will start tapping as soon as the first track starts. "Horns To The Sky" is a perfect opener - a memorable riff, groovy rhythms, and fast-paced passages that will send you headbanging, regardless of the length of your hair. What will also immediately catch your attention is the production. It's fantastic. Things that are supposed to sound low are deliciously low - the bass drums seem to massage your diaphragm, and the bass guitar tests your sub-woofer, assuming you have one. The guitars are massive and lead-heavy, and the vocals are set somewhere in between - not too prevalent, but not too distant either. Everything is mixed together with perfect proportions, every instrument is clear and easily audible, yet the overall impression is that the sound is properly abrasive for the kind of music Byfrost plays.

It's no use going over more songs, because they follow a similar formula. Generally mid- to slow-tempo, with occasional speed-ups, and a lot of groove groove groove! I really can't stress it enough - this is one of the most groovy metal albums I've heard in quite some time. Forget about listening to it while doing something else - Black Earth with grab you by the balls and squeeze until you give it your full, undivided attention. It's impossible to sit still, balls squeezed or not - there's so much energy in the album, that you will involuntarily react to the music. My gut feeling is that the reaction will be enthusiastic.

Rarely does a debut album have such an impact. It's easily the debut of the year for me, and, seeing reviews on other sites, not only for me. Long story short, stop reading now and go. Buy. Listen. Headbang. Listen again. Headbang some more. Come MS Awards, you will know who needs to win The Best Debut Album Category.

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 9


Band profile: Byfrost
Album: Black Earth


 


written by Daniell | 06.10.2010



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Merchant of Doom - 06.10.2010 at 12:24  
I only listened to the samples online. but I feel asleep after 3 songs... it all sounds the same, there is no variety... but maybe it's me.
Daniell - 06.10.2010 at 12:27  
Samples are fooling you my friend. Listen to the album. And no, the songs do not sound the same.
Carl Berg - 06.10.2010 at 12:38  
Very nice review. Byfrost is indeed a "thrashy sounding Immortal", the influences are very clear. A definite new add to my collection.
Merchant of Doom - 06.10.2010 at 12:52  
Written by Daniell on 06.10.2010 at 12:27

Samples are fooling you my friend. Listen to the album. And no, the songs do not sound the same.


it must be the poor MySpace quality... still, quite boring, if you ask me... can't find anything exciting about it and, IMHO, 9 is a tad high.
Daniell - 06.10.2010 at 14:45  
Written by Merchant of Doom on 06.10.2010 at 12:52

can't find anything exciting about it and, IMHO, 9 is a tad high.


Actually I was considering a 9.4
Mr. Doctor - 06.10.2010 at 15:47  
Holy fucking shit, just heard some songs from the myspace and this is intense, I will probably give it a 8,5 myself but this is by the best debut I've ehard this year.

Really promising stuff! And yes, I love the grooooooove
Maxx666 - 06.10.2010 at 16:55  
This is great.. i would give this album a 9 myself. Recommended
Valaskjalf - 06.10.2010 at 18:51  
Written by Merchant of Doom on 06.10.2010 at 12:52

it must be the poor MySpace quality... still, quite boring, if you ask me... can't find anything exciting about it and, IMHO, 9 is a tad high.


Well if it's that boring then at least we know for sure it sounds like Immortal lol
Merchant of Doom - 07.10.2010 at 00:29  
Written by Valaskjalf on 06.10.2010 at 18:51

Written by Merchant of Doom on 06.10.2010 at 12:52

it must be the poor MySpace quality... still, quite boring, if you ask me... can't find anything exciting about it and, IMHO, 9 is a tad high.


Well if it's that boring then at least we know for sure it sounds like Immortal lol


well, my impression.... to be honest. I didn't find anything exciting about them (well, not a 9!), but then I did say I found the latest Enslaved a bit "mainstream"... but I think I meant more "approachable", as in "harder" but too polished... just a strange combination... which works!
Thanntos - 07.10.2010 at 07:59  
Gotta say my fav debut albums this year by a mile are Cebren-Khal's 'A Mass of Despair' and Castevet 'Mounds of Ash'. Will have to listen to this and prove those picks wrong.
Daniell - 07.10.2010 at 12:07  
Written by Merchant of Doom on 07.10.2010 at 00:29

well, my impression.... to be honest. I didn't find anything exciting about them (well, not a 9!)


This is the first album that made me stop listening to the new Enslaved. I found it VERY exciting, and I still do. It's just a surprisingly fresh and lively reworking of well-known ideas, and it's pure gold to me. Such excellence warrants a 9 in my book
Merchant of Doom - 07.10.2010 at 12:16  
Ok, the only way to find out for me is to buy and listen to it properly...
Daniell - 07.10.2010 at 12:21  
I bought it on allegro.pl, the Polish equivalent of e-bay.

Being a doom fan, you should have no problem digesting 40 minutes of relatively slow music with occasional uptempo passages
Merchant of Doom - 10.10.2010 at 12:04  
Written by Daniell on 07.10.2010 at 12:21



Being a doom fan, you should have no problem digesting 40 minutes of relatively slow music with occasional uptempo passages


not funeral doom...
Susan - 12.10.2010 at 02:55  
I thought I'd commented already, oh well... better late than never

So I loved this review and it definitely made me want to listen to the album ASAP. Especially this line, "Generally mid- to slow-tempo, with occasional speed-ups, and a lot of groove groove groove! I really can't stress it enough - this is one of the most groovy metal albums I've heard in quite some time."

...and I totally agree. The groove here was perfectly to my liking! I enjoy good black metal but don't listen to a ton of it. Bands like this make me want to listen more. Definitely WILL be on my radar come awards time.
Aetherius - 12.10.2010 at 09:40  
This sounds awesome ! ^^ Good review BTW
!J.O.O.E.! - 12.10.2010 at 14:04  
Written by Thanntos on 07.10.2010 at 07:59

Gotta say my fav debut albums this year by a mile are Cebren-Khal's 'A Mass of Despair' and Castevet 'Mounds of Ash'. Will have to listen to this and prove those picks wrong.

Haven't heard Byfrost yet but that Castevet is certainly something special. Can't think of anything all that similar to it in recent times.
!J.O.O.E.! - 12.10.2010 at 19:26  
I wasn't quite as blown away by this as you were. It's strong, heady music but the Immortal worship is a bit too obvious for my liking. I couldn't stop thinking how I'd rather be listening to Immortal
Daniell - 12.10.2010 at 22:59  
Which isnt a bad thing because Immortal does have some fucking brilliant releases in their discography
!J.O.O.E.! - 12.10.2010 at 23:06  
Indeed! I'm a bit funny with blackened thrash too for some reason, the fact this managed to maintain my interest suggests it's better than I give it credit for.

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