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Ciemra - The Tread Of Darkness review

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Band: Ciemra
Album: The Tread Of Darkness
Release date: February 2023

01. Ciemra
02. Four Riders
03. Vomiting Void
04. Call Of The Ancestors
05. War
06. A Night For The Death
07. Winter
08. Serpent’s
09. Where The Eyes Close

On the eastern horizon, a black sun rises. Five skeletal warriors ride on dragons into battle, wielding weapons of finest black metal.

Despite "Belarus" meaning "White Russia", this Belarusian band go by the name for "darkness" in their language: Ciemra. Their debut album, The Tread Of Darkness, demonstrates a mixed assortment of black metal styles that makes the band hard to pin down in one specific subgenre. They have some catchy melodies, but not enough to be deemed meloblack. They have an affinity for grand and dramatic musicianship, but shouldn't be called atmoblack. And they're clearly fueled with an underlying aggression that materializes in the sharpness of their riffs — and yet they never become as chaotic as true dissonant black metal. As you can see, Ciemra are not so easy to categorize. Let's take a closer look.

The album starts off very strong, the first song "Ciemra" showing off all the talent that Ciemra have at their disposal: an introducing, eerily elegant guitar melody; venomous, raspy vocals shouting in Belarusian and English; two guitar solos to contrast the ruthless black metal riffing; and even the subtle inclusion of a clean vocal delivery — the seamless combination of all these features in a single song makes it clear that this is a band to be reckoned with! Ciemra play a flavor of black metal that balances both intensity and melody, as showcased on their first released single, "Serpent's". The vicious, suffocating blast-beat pummeling and razor-sharp tremolo-picking seem to be inspired by bands of their Polish neighbors such as Mgła, and tortured wails on songs like the concluding track, "Where The Eyes Close", remind of the performances of Angrrsth.

However, most of the album sounds heavily influenced by the old Swedish masters of meloblack, specifically Necrophobic's 2006 album, Hrimthursum. Besides the superficial comparison that both albums use "Winter" and "Serpent" in the titles of their songs, Ciemra's guitar riffs replicate the Swedes' superposition of melodies — simultaneously chilling and menacing, yet somehow alluring. Especially on the songs "A Night For The Death" and "Winter", the vocal delivery resembles the spiteful, croaky singing style of both Tobias Sidegård on Hrimthursum and Anders Strokirk on Mark Of The Necrogram. At any given moment, I expect to hear the cries of "Oh, Pestaaaaaa! Our two-faced mistress of deliiiiiiight!" Ciemra, however, don't invoke any supernatural spirits by name. Instead, they call upon the grand and ancient concepts of darkness, death, and war. A gaping abyss that was worshipped on their 2022 EP also makes a reappearance here in the song "Vomiting Void". There's an overall oppressive and grim tone across the album, mirrored by the cover artwork depicting five skeletal warriors riding ferocious dragons. No doubt, these five figures represent the five anonymous musicians that have crafted this cauldron of pitch black metal.

Despite the heavy parallels to Hrimthursum, Ciemra don't just mindlessly copy their musical inspirations. Most prominently, in the song "War", they inject some variety into their music by experimenting with ominous spoken words akin to a Memoriam song; an alternation between mournful, almost cleanly sung passages and angry, raspy shouts; and slow, doom-metal-esque riffs that create an imposing and foreboding atmosphere. In conclusion, Ciemra offer a very entertaining concoction of black metal that combines the intensity of their Polish neighbors with the melody of the old Swedish masters. If this is what Belarusian black metal has to offer, then I can't wait to hear what Ciemra cook up next.

Written on 17.02.2023 by The sign of good music is the ability to both convey and trigger emotion.


Comments: 4   Visited by: 66 users
17.02.2023 - 13:19
Rating: 8

Thanks for the review and the recommendation! I'm yet to listen to this, but I'm looking forward to it excitedly. Necrophobic for breakfast and Mgła for lunch sounds good to me! Excellent writing as always.
So imminently visible - this cloaked innocent guilt
Sentenced to a lifetime, a second of structured chaos
Trampled by the ferocious, raging crowds of solitude
I'm the soil beneath me soaking up the sustenance of my own death.
17.02.2023 - 22:27
Rating: 9
This is my most anticipated album out of all upcoming releases. I've been waiting for it since I first saw the video for "Serpent's" on YouTube five months ago. It was a good day when it got released on the Black Metal Promotion channel last week. This is an excellent album and will surely be on many Top albums of 2023 lists at the end of the year. And honestly, I didn't even think about the similarities to Hrimthursum. But I guess that's why I like this album so much. Glad to see it reviewed so more people can discover this black metal gem.
"You have the right to believe in what you want. I have the right to believe it's ridiculous." - Ricky Gervais
17.02.2023 - 22:35
Rating: 6

I feel like I read a lot of reviews of albums that get compared to Necrophobic, which doesn't really do much to motivate me to listen to it, yet you specifically comparing it to Hrimthursum has immediately sealed this a place in my 'definitely check out' list. Great review man, looking forward to listening to it
18.02.2023 - 16:40
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Good reviev checked this one before review as new added band, was ok to me.
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

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