Bands: Graveland & Commander Agares
Title: Awakening of the Storms
Label: Inferna Profundus Records
Release Date: 13 May 2022
Country: Poland (Graveland) & Finland (Commander Agares)
Format reviewed: High-quality digital recording
In this review, we are going to be checking out a split album between Graveland and Commander Agares and discovering, in my opinion, how successful a split album can be. In this album of seven tracks, Graveland begins with four tracks and Commander Agares with the final three. So far from the reading I’ve done, I’m thinking, this will be a mix of Pagan/Viking music that lately Graveland has been creating, and, a fusion of black metal ambient that Commander Agares has on tap.
Small history: Graveland has been around, and I mean around. Beginning the band in 1991 as mainly staying in the black metal sound, to branching out into the more epic soundscapes of Viking metal and the amazing atmospheres created in pagan inspired metal. Some 20 or so full-length albums with this one “Awakening of the Storms” being the 21st. The band members are Rob Darken, who has played all instruments at one time, but now he focuses on guitars, singing, and drums. Skyth on bass and M. Ahrin on drums.
Commander Agares started things up in 2020 with his debut album “Legions of Descending Twilight” in 2021. Agares (of Azaghal and Vargrav) is listed as the only member, so we are listening to a one-person band, and what a lot he had to say on this album. Now, this split album “Awakening of the Storms” is his second foray into more audiences who will be taken by the black metal/ambient sounds.
So we begin, the first track from Graveland, “At the Shore Bathed in Blood”, right away that Viking rhythm is established, with a pulling in of the pagan inspiration with a fluted sound, whether it’s a keyboard produced a note, not sure. The combination of what is being built in these rhythms is setting in and readying my ears for what will follow. Enjoying the atmosphere. Can’t picture a Viking boat, battling waves and epic storms to certain passages in this song. Guitar riffs, lead sections, guttural vocals, and rhythmic drums, that slow and speed up depending on what is being asked.
Next, “Lords of the Polar Night”, excellent atmosphere, again, can’t not see Vikings in this, the melodies hit like ancient sea stories, gruesome battles, and mind-numbing death. There are battles to be won and lost, and within the sounds of the guitars, drums and vocals, I’m catapulted into the past and imagining how this Viking/pagan life was, to survive it.
“Amber Lantern”, a discordance is introduced here, and an eloquent melancholy is played to start things. A change up in drum pattern, to an almost tribal beat, a war beat in my mind. Now the fluted sound comes in and gives more of the atmospheres that build this track.
“Possessed by Steel” is a chorus of voices to begin, with a pagan influence heard here. Drumming that is mid-range in speeds with some exploding beats mixed in. Vocals, deep and far-reaching kick in with the guitar riffs. As a final track from this portion of the album, this one really transports you, a journey of a past life of simpler, yet deadly consequences. A people gouging and kicking to survive. That’s how this sounds to me.
Let’s start again with Commander Agares first track, “Where we are Crowned as Kings”, to note that the black metal guitar style is heard more prominently, yet also very melodic, and giving way to the ambient soundwaves they are known for. A screamed vocal jumps out from the ether, and its tortured and gritty. Ambient tones and the vocals so tortured come together like a mad manic, clash in my ears. I like this combination.
“Dawn of a New Morning”, is next and is the tremolo-driven black metal partnership of guitar and rapid-fire drums.
Lastly, but not leastly, is “Rising Flames of Revelation“ almost has a futuristic keyboarded alarm ringing, that cuts off suddenly to more of the pained and raged vocals. Those vocals continue and this track grabs on with more emotion. (To my ears)
Split albums can be hit or miss, yet in this case, both bands complemented each’s sound and gave solid performances in their own sections. I enjoyed both and hope that this album doesn’t get missed. I give 7/10 Metal Marie
7/10 Victory is possible
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