A couple weeks ago, I reviewed Bloodwraiths first album, As Above So Below. The album sounded like it was recorded amongst the debuts of Emperor, Mayhem, and Burzum due to its raw and energetic feel of the birth of black metal. Unfortunately, it suffered from a bit of identity crisis and struggled to settle in to one distinct sound. Bloodwraith has been writing their second album for a while now and I have the privilege of hearing four demo tracks off of that album. From what I can hear, they are starting to find their own sound and have even started experimenting a little bit with rock-infused riffs instead of the typical tremolo picked riffs of black metal.
I have only gotten four tracks to listen to and they are all extremely diverse from one another. There are a couple mid tempo songs, while a few others are quite intense and fast paced. The riffs that the songs are built around are also quite different from one another. Out of the four tracks I heard, three songs had pretty straight forward black metal riffs in the veins of old Burzum and at points, Immortal. On that last song, it starts out like a rock song. It is so strange when you first hear it, but it eventually grows on you. It eventually fuses into a gut-ripping black metal song that shreds like the rest of them, but the experimentation with the rock riff is something I applaud them for.
Drumming is a bit more rough this time around. A click track is obviously not utilized and while it isn't always necessary in black metal, they would have benefited from it in some spots. I will attribute the mix quality to these being demo tracks, but I would really like to see it cleaned up a bit for the album. On a few songs, the drums are so overpowering and loud, you can barely hear the guitars. The kick drum sounds extremely dead on another, kind of like a hit against a tin can but the next track, it roars with life and integrity, leaving me to wonder if they changed recording equipment in the middle of demoing these tracks? The guitars are quite consistent in their tone, very raw and gritty. It is a distorted, fuzzy wall of noise that decimates everything in its path. Unfortunately, some songs lose the guitars in the mix and they are quite hard to hear. There are also a few more solos here than on As Above So Below, something that makes these demos sound interesting. Black metal isn't known for tremendous soloing and there are actually very few black metal bands I enjoy who solo in their music, but Bloodwraith makes it work. The solos fit perfectly within the music and they are not a nuisance within the song. The vocals are a part that have improved greatly. On As Above So Below, they were the part of the album that I thought suffered the most. I'm glad to say that on these four demo tracks, they have improved, but not fully. The screams are still top notch and really make you want to bang your head but the weird King-Diamondish scream that is a one-off thing is so out of place. It does not sound like it fits in the music at all and I would rather hear a brutal, menacing scream in its place. The clean vocals were a bit less present and when they were there, they were a bit more tolerable this time around. I believe that they just fit into the music a bit easier and made more sense with what was happening around them.
Bloodwraith is definitely on the right path with their sound but still have a bit of oddities within their music. Oddities are definitely a good thing, though, as they really do show the experimentation and the freedom Bloodwraith is taking with their music. Hopefully this album really dominates because after listening to these demos, I have very high expectations for it!