Second wave black metal forever changed the metal soundscape, featuring a slew of bands from Scandinavia influenced by Mercyful Fate and Venom – the so-called first wave of black metal. Raw, chaotic and intensely ideological, progenitors of the style would see an explosion of similar-sounding bands in the mid-nineties, coloring the first relics of second wave black metal with melodic touches, orchestral segments, and other elements. Enter 2016, and some bands still pay homage to this movement. Adding little or nothing to the template, Blood Tyrant doesn’t care about current trends, departures from the mid-nineties sound by the genre’s progenitors. They succeed at playing raw second-wave black metal the way copycats couldn’t. The songs are simple, but undeniably nuanced. While writers the world over insist on adding more to the black metal template than simple tribute, writers must also acknowledge a band when it pays tribute to second-wave black metal in a superlative way, hence will I say that Blood Tyrant’s Aristocracy of Twilight from Iron Bonehead Productions is a must for fans of the genre’s initial manifestations.
The first track is a keyboard intro also showcasing audio samples of medieval war. Keyboard sections were proliferate during second-wave black metal’s heyday, and Blood Tyrant makes apt dedication to this practice. Also called dungeon synth, the keyboard section is short and enjoyable, in spite of my professed dislike of ambient sections. Blood Tyrant makes it easy for fans of the second wave movement to rekindle a love for the era. Drums explode. Guitars make use of razor-thin tremolo-riffs. The vocalist screeches with absolute negligence for his larynx. Fans of raw black metal won’t be disappointed.
Label: Iron Bonehead Productions
Slow in some junctures, rapid in others, the tempos change paces the way a chameleon changes its colors. Even when the screeches predominate and the drums fall out, the tremolo riffs still resound. As quickly as it ends, the drums enter the fray once more and the blast sections return. The tom-toms sound like they were recorded in a theater, the way Mayhem infamously did with their landmark album, De Mysteriis. In fact, they echo like distant explosions, or like thunder booming some distance away. It’s a big reason why I like this album. Many bands replicating second wave black metal often scratch out the drums and bass altogether, creating a wall of sound that sounds perfect for vinyl records. Even in digital format, Blood Tyrant’s caustic music is indeed just that. It brings you to a time when men often settled their differences through bloody battles. The music here is primitive and violent, like primal nature, like mankind’s inherent distrust for one another, when no civilization could rest on its laurels for long, war remaining entirely possible at any second.
Transport yourself back in time when the nineties paid tribute to the ways of medieval Europe, to a time when folk music couldn’t invoke catharsis for the darkest days in the old world. Blood Tyrant may not be original in musical ideology, but music well-executed is never simple travesty. This is homage to sacred music, the sort captured with necro production, thrust in darkness. So, as dusk falls on the snowy woods, hear the music inspired by its arid cold. Second wave black metal was never meant to die when progenitors severed themselves from the widespread heresy that the genre became subject to. In my opinion, second wave black metal bands would support Blood Tyrant, and so have I. So should you.