It’s been interesting to observe over the last year or two how Irish bands have now moved quite far past traditionally styled black metal.
Instead we boast a clutch of bands who may have of course have their roots in it, but who’ve moved into far more individual expressions of it.
So when a band leaps up in trusty old panda paint, playing a determinedly grim style of BM whose apex was around the turn of the millennium, one’s inclined to think of it in slightly quaint terms.
Well not quaint exactly, because to their credit Neamhní’s tone is so very much thicker than the usual raspy forgettables, and harder, too.
But still. Given all the exciting and in some cases mesmerising developments going on in black metal aligned outfits today, it just seems old hat by comparison.
Still, this band have much to offer. Indeed the first and most obvious sonic reference point that presents itself is Gehenna from around ‘WW’, or perhaps 1349 without the outrageous speed. Yes, Gehenna is prominent here: and that’s not something you hear too often, particularly out of a Belfast band.
As I mentioned, the guitars are impressively thick and powerful. What’s best though is the pounding enthusiasm of the drums, which speed along with weight and character, adding good tinkling on the bell of the cymbal here and there.
There are clear references to Mayhem in ‘Carnun’ with that low sung Atilla style intonation under the rasping, and I suppose Marduk’s mid-period, highly aggressive approach (or maybe the singer just looks like B-War) has been formative to this band too.
‘Entities Unknown’ brings a hint of Celticism to things not so much in the music but in that familiar swing beat; it’s ok, and probably better live than on record.
The much more attacking ‘Life Abandoned’ brings things back to form though with some searing fast sections and a much more ravishing approach. Again, good bell work on the cymbal really creates a sense of merauding speed.
It’s hard to be more descriptive given the absolutely orthodox nature of the sound, straight out of the BM text books. They’ve got the balls to play fast and hard, the sound is clear, and they’re putting themselves all out there with the corpsepaint look. So credit where it’s due.
It’s absolutely the least original thing in the world, but they deliver it with vim and a decent musical nous – that certainly raises them above the usual BM wannabe fayre.
Still though, with such a dyed in the wool sound and look (the cover art is just absolutely lacking), I’m just not sure how they separate themselves musically or conceptually from the masses. Perhaps the end of ‘Life Abandoned’ hints at promise there, with its elevated finish that at times recalls Behemoth’s ear for grandeur; but this is stock stuff, despite how well its executed.
3.1 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 13/04/17