Friday, 16 January 2015

Põhjast - Matused (2014) / 84%

Epic Nordic coalition of lone-wolves

An international project combining members of three Nordic countries, Pohjast's Matused (Estonian for funeral) is the band's second full length and once again features a wolf on the cover art (don't worry, they're better than Catamenia!) Before attacking the music, I feel it's important to decorticate the composition of this band.

Eric Syre (well known for his excellent black/thrash solo project Thesyre and more recently for being the singer of up and coming old schoolers Beast Within) is the lead singer and he's absolutely stellar. The majority of the vocals on this album are clean in the purest Quorthon tradition, but compared to the late Bathory leader, Syre is actually a very competent singer with a good range (please, don't throw me any rocks, I like Bathory as much as the next guy!)

The rest of the band is composed of experienced musicians from the Estonian and Finnish scenes (bands like Metsatöll, Ajattara, Sorts…) and the musicianship is extremely solid. The approach reminds me of the latest two Darkthrone albums but with a powerful and punchy production. It's not really black metal anymore, it's more of an amalgamation of ultra heavy epic Viking metal, pagan metal and even traditional heavy metal. The production, alongside the vocals, is perhaps the best thing about Matused, it's simply perfect for their genre. Everything has the room to breathe, it's crystal clear while never being sacharrine nor sterile.

The album is short and only has six numbers ranging from 4 to 6 minutes, while I think they could slow things up and come up with longer and more intricate songs, this formula works quite well for them and you don't have the time to get bored. The songs all possess this anthem quality (listen to “In the Shadow of the Glass Cross”) due mostly to the simplistic but catchy guitar riffs and the strong, manly vocals. The bass is loud and it compliments the guitar very well in creating a solid wall of sound bordering on doom and Celtic Frost territories. Well played slow leads are also part of their songwriting credo. 

While not reinventing anything, this international project plays an efficient sort of music that is still essential for the well being of the scene. 

Solid stuff.


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