Before I start this review, a quick tip of the hat to Satanath Records and Aleksey there who sends us loads through for review. The label is based in Russia, and focuses predominantly on the heavier end of the metal scale. As ever, we’re inundated with albums and EPs to throw words at, but today I dug into the Satanath folder and plucked out a couple for a quick listen. As ever when I try out something he’s sent me, I was pleasantly surprised!
Setoml are a two-piece from Ukraine and billed as “melodic black” which caught my eye. Since the term “melodeath” became commonplace I’ve found loads of bands that I like, with the “melodic” side often adding a touch more musicality to more brutal genres. While I do enjoy a bit of old-fashioned abrasive face-ripping at times, I’m an old-school metaller at heart and softly rounding the edges often just makes the music that bit more enjoyable for me. Such is definitely the case with Reincarnation.
Within seconds of “Flames” starting up, I knew I was going to like this album. The downtuned, creepy guitars heralded bad things… but in a nice way. They ring out like bells on this opening riff, and the drums – an important feature of black metal – ride high in the mix, too. Once the vocals start up, you can instantly tell this isn’t a garage-produced black metal album, there’s a lot of work being put in here. The tempo kicks in after a while and there’s no denying that this is as black as it needs to be to qualify for the genre, but the slower sections are clean and add to the track rather than break it up or disjoint it.
With that introduction to the band and the album out of the way, I ploughed through the rest of the songs and I’m glad to report that the opener doesn’t use up all the tricks and leave you wondering where the ideas went. “In the Cold Eyes” is as brutal as any other black metal track, “By the Dark Lake” is more brooding and haunting with discordant guitars throughout, that eerie off-kilter sound that extreme bands often employ. Closer “The Shadows Path” has one of the best intro riffs I’ve heard in a long time and wouldn’t be out of place on an Ex Deo album – it sounds pompous and grand, like a mighty marching army. A great way to round off an album that I thoroughly enjoyed.
I’ve said it before, but one of the things I like about “metal” is that the term encompases so many wild and varied sounds – even more if you grab “rock” and buddy them up. Setoml have introduced me to another little niche in this huge slab of sounds that we all live for.
Reincarnation is out now via Satanath Records’ Bandcamp