Thursday, July 10, 2014

Halberd - Remnants of Crumbling Empires

Halberd is an epic doom/death band that is rather unique since it's members are from three different continents (North America, South America, and Asia) and even though they proclaim their music to be doom/death there is a huge amount of epic metal to their sound. There is so many more dimensions to their music, so to pigeonhole them into a specific genre is actually doing this band a disservice. Their debut release, Remnants of Crumbling Empires, is an impressive four song release clocking in just seconds over forty-one minutes and is a perfect mixture of atmosphere, brutality, melody, and epic metal.

I never go into any review lightly since I really want to know what's going on with any album before forming an opinion of it. I really needed to let this album sink in due to all the elements that are presented here. What impressed me with this band is how they use each dynamic to create a unique sound. The doom riffing at the beginning of "Northern Bloodletting" is heavy as fuck but as the song progresses we have the keys providing the epic orchestrations leading to some nice melodic tremolo riffing. Then it bursts into some massive thrash/death riffs that just slay. The guitar work on this album is incredible as the solo on this song, as well as the rest of the album, just fucking shred. These guys are serious about what they do and there is so much going on here that you need to absorb all the elements to really get the full effect. This song is all over the place as once the ripping solos and the blast beats are over we slow it back down to some epic doom loaded with atmosphere provided by the keyboards.

The vocals are mix of black metal shrieks and low guttural death metal growls. They know when to use each to create an experience with each song. Most of the songs are over eight plus minutes and that is what puts most of this album in the epic zone. However, they seem to take a break from the epic on "Barghash's Poison" to remind you that they are also capable of kicking your ass. This is straight up riff heavy death metal. The song is fast and brutal with just a touch of melody. The riffing just pummels you between the thrashing riffs and the tremolos. Once again, the solo on this song is fucking godly. Then we have "Ignorance of Morbidity" which is an epic song that pretty much maintains a mid paced doom sound throughout the song. The riffing is just pounding heavy with the vocals going back and forth from that low guttural to a black metal shriek that reminds me of Grutle from Enslaved at times.The keyboards are thrown in sporadically and only when they want to create the epic orchestrations that almost sound like battle horns but also sound like the horn section of an orchestra. Again, the star of this show is Andrés Felipe Murillo who just fucking shreds another classy solo.

The production is also noteworthy here because it just creates more of the atmosphere that's present here. The effects and the echoes just give this a sound that doesn't sound over produced but doesn't have that severely under produced sound just to be "kvlt." Even the programmed drums are believable. And no two songs sound the same on this album. Each song has it's own personality but each are essential to the other because this album needs to be consumed whole. This couldn't be more true than on the final and longest song on the album, "Dead Horses Cavalry." This starts with some serious epic doom rhythms but as the song progresses it just builds up to a massive climax as it blasts and the solo just shreds. Some eerie epic doom carries the last few minutes of the song as if the song itself is letting you know that this journey has come to an end. There is a story being told here and I think that the story drives the song and what we are going to hear.

This is one impressive album of epic metal, No, it's stunning, actually.  There's no way to give a full description of the music because of all the elements that make up the songs. After repeated listens to this album, I still hear something new each time I listen to it. This album should appeal to any fan of death, doom, or black metal. Actually, this album should appeal to any and all metal fans. This is serious music by a group of guys who know exactly how to create an amazing atmosphere. This album is essential.


Halberd on Bandcamp

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