The Shining Swords Of Hate
"The Shining Swords of Hate" is the most recent album release from the "Orthodox
Black Metal" band Countess. The first thing any fan of Countess will
notice upon playing this album is how different it is from the rest of
Orlok's music. Gone are the harsh, screamed vocals of the earlier
albums. They've been replaced with an agonized moaning, which is
so low in the mix that it sounds very distant, almost as
if Orlok is in one room, and the music is in another. Gone, too, are the
more straightforward elements of Countess' attack- "Unorthodox Black
Metal" has been created here, and it takes some time to get used to.
At first listen, I was mourning the loss of Orlok's old vocal style,
and it was hard for me to reconcile this album with the rest of
Countess' work. I put the album away with a heavy heart, almost ready to
declare it my least favorite Countess album. At some point the next day
I realized that I'd been humming "Te Vuur en te Zwaard" off and on at
work, and I decided that perhaps my judgment had been a little bit hasty.
I went home, put the album on again, and gave it my full attention.
The songs are very long (most are around ten minutes, one is over twenty).
For the most part, they're slow, doomy, atmospheric pieces, dripping
with rawness and despair. One thing I noticed almost immediately was
how well the new vocal style fits with the music. Yes, I still prefer
the old style- but to use it here would have overwhelmed much of the
atmosphere of these songs, and atmosphere is the defining element of
"The Shining Swords of Hate". Orlok's pained groans and snarls on this
album are the perfect complement to the hateful, oppressive music.
By the time the album had played to the end, it had become my favorite of
Countess' albums. The genius here is subtle, yet I cannot deny it. This
album grew on me, and once I came to appreciate it, "The Shining Swords
of Hate" more than exceeded my expectations (which were very high, this
being Countess.) Get this at all costs- there are only 666 numbered
copies, available from Barbarian Wrath.
Best Track: "Te Vuur en te Zwaard". Along with Megiddo's "The Oath", it's
easily one of my two favorite Black Metal songs from the year 2000. This track
creates such a perfectly bleak, hopeless atmosphere- amazing. This is
worth the cost of the album alone.
© 2001 vorfeed