Arysk – Devastation

Arysk neatly overturns all the stereotypes that NSBM is afflicted with within the first few seconds of ‘Prussian Blue’, a very well composed, undeniably melodic folk/ambient track that actually manages to be just as good if not better than the metal on this tape. In fact, an inversion of NSBM expectations is exactly what makes this release so good; there’s none of the overly raw, sloppily composed music that defines the vast majority of NSBM, but only good, fairly melodic and well played black metal. The production is raw, but the music is most certainly not. Fans of Absurd and other prime artists in the NSBM will want to give this a look most certainly, as well as those who think NSBM is exclusively basement produced and played music useful only for fronting an ideology. Hell, maybe the best testament to the skill on display here is that the music actually beats out the ideology in emphasis and execution.

Arysk plays a mid to fast-paced, slightly folky, slightly punky form of black metal that will be familiar to many of those well-versed in the NSBM scene. The four-track production is raw but perfectly servicable, and the playing is actually pretty dead-on for demo-level NSBM work. Real drums are used, and to great effect, making the music seem much more organic and lively than the dime-a-dozen drum machine NS groups out there. Vocals are a very cool, reverbed, mid-range rasp that seem executed better than most. The music is clearly all about riffing though, and those riffs are very good. They range from folky power chord material to more traditional tremolo picking, and though they are all quite simple, each is emotional and arranged in a very professional fashion. There’s a surprisingly good grasp of relation between the instruments, with each voice playing off the others in a logical, well sequenced fashion. It’s very well composed all around; much better than you would expect at first glance.

‘Rassische Unsterblicher’ is the most traditional black metal song, with some very fast blasting executed under the misanthropic tremolo riffs, where the other tracks go in a more melodic direction. All the songs are fairly catchy, and there’s not a weak one in the bunch. The slim twenty-one minute running time is just perfect for the material here; more would overstay its welcome with the raw production and fairly singular style, while less would seem to be too little to really showcase Gravsten’s talents. It’s the little things that makes this a really enjoyable demo: the small drum fills, the rhythmically charged guitars, or the sharp, declarative punctuation of vocal lines. And the most important of all: it’s simply very well written and carefully constructed, and never gets too hasty to declare its political allegiance to the sacrifice of musical quality. It’s a paradigm that more NSBM artists would be encouraged to share.

So, for all you that think NSBM is Burning Blood or Nokturnal Mortum and nothing in between, give this a try. You’ll definitely be surprised by the quality of the material on this tape, being far in excess of many artists cut from similar cloth. I’m very interested in hearing what Arysk comes up with for future releases with a bigger budget, as this project seems to be definitely on the right track.

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~ by noktorn on November 8, 2007.

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