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CD Review: The Ruins of Beverast – Rain upon the Impure

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theruinsofbeverast rainupontheimpureAfter the demise of German black metal band Nagelfar (not to be confused with the Swedish band Naglfar), drummer Alexander von Meilenwald formed The Ruins of Beverast.  In 2004, the solo project released Unlock the Shrine, a 70-minute epic into which von Meilenwald threw in basically everything and the kitchen sink: blastbeats, slower parts, keyboard horns, electronic textures, found sounds, female vocals, and varied guitar tones.

At almost 80 minutes in length, Rain upon the Impure is even more ambitious, with five tracks topping 13 minutes.  The sonic ingredients are just as diverse as before.  However, the songwriting is smoother, with fewer "WTF" moments; when choral chanting drops midway through "Blood Vaults," it actually fits the riffs this time.  A new, welcome influence is doom metal.  While blastbeats are plentiful, von Meilenwald is now just as likely to twist riffs slowly into one's cranium (e.g., "Soliloquy of the Stigmatised Shepherd").  The result is weighty and often haunting.

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However, the album sounds awful.  Immediately noticeable is its quietness; the volume must be high for sound to be discernible.  By itself, this isn't a problem.  On A Matter of Life and Death, Iron Maiden chose a quieter, more natural sound to preserve dynamics, avoiding the overcompressed, artificial loudness common in mastering these days.  That's the case, too, with Rain upon the Impure – all its peaks and valleys are intact.

But while a simple volume boost might have helped, the mix is atrocious.  It's as murky and washed-out as the album artwork.  The tinny drum kit sounds like a sewing machine; one would think von Meilenwald would mix his own instrument more prominently.  Lo-fi in black metal is often a good thing, helping convey grit and desperation.  But this isn't supposed to be a Xasthur-esque suicidefest.  While von Meilenwald's howls sound ghostly in this sea of reverb, this material overall begs to sound stronger.  The doomy passages, in particular, drift when they could crush.  Powerful material, weak sound – someone remix and remaster this!


The Ruins of Beverast fan page on MySpace
Ván Records

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