Ciemra - The Tread Of Darkness review
|Album:||The Tread Of Darkness|
|Release date:||February 2023|
02. Four Riders
03. Vomiting Void
04. Call Of The Ancestors
06. A Night For The Death
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|
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