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  • JammT


Updated: Apr 10, 2021


The Ruins of Beverast is a solo project from extreme-end multi-instrumentalist Alexander von Meilenwald. Like a mad professor of black metal he has turned out a slew of esoteric albums dabbling in blackened eclecticism and boundary experimentation.

For long spells The Thule Grimoires delves into immersive, haunted psychedelia and bleak celestial shoegaze. Lingering, shimmering guitar tones, lilting warped chords and chilly echoed effects create a cavernous, hallucinatory sound on the likes of The Tundra Shines with its windswept wilderness vibe. Similarly, Anchoress in Furs is a slow eerie parade of reverbed, fuzzy shamanism and discordant chanted vocals reminiscent of Ulver or a less carnivalesque Acturus. There is also a recurring primitive ceremonial theme with mantric chattering, looped chants and quivering ancient-sounding processional drums hinting at a context of spiritualism.

It doesn't take long, however, before Ruins Of Beverast surrender to the pull of more generic black metal bombast and spew out freezing riffs, clattering frantic blastbeats and raw, raspy frostbitten vocals. Opener, Ropes Into Eden, signals falsely that this is going to be yet another blackened homage to traditional BM as it charges off across the permafrost clutching the Mayhem back catalogue in its claws. Likewise, a sizeable section of the curiously titled Polar Hiss Hysteria has cold metallic anvil clanging, driving blizzards of percussion and some nifty transcendent hooks making this one of the most blackened, furious points of the record.

More unique, though, is the consistent and prominent touches of 1980s post-punk and New Wave goth rock that arise throughout the record. The jangly guitars and indie-informed melodies are like a nocturnal Joy Division and The Cure jamming in a cave and compliment the shimmering nihilism and depressed, subdued morosely spoken vocals. It can be pulled off pretty well, too, such as on Kromlec'h Knell which has some genuine instant rock melodies that surf the droning dreaminess. It's a conspicuous element to the record whether it is a homage to New Wave forming the spine of a song or employed more as a background texture. The ghost of Type O Negative keeps re-appearing in the middle of the room too. The vocals on the slow, creepy and bizarre Mammothpolis would win a Pete Steele karaoke contest and the atmosphere encompasses Type O's dewy October Rust-era glade worship over spectral pseudo-dub step. Signing off is the 14 minute extravaganza Deserts to Bind and Defeat, a saturnine, funereal epic that has every ingredient chucked in at some stage from the vast sweeping scapes of dark-surrealism, to bleak meditative electronica and feral black metal blast beats.

The Thule Grimoires is ambitious, pompous and histrionic. The seemingly disparate forces of black metal, electronic blackgaze, 1980s New Wave and goth rock all compete and contort often throughout the course of each song. Rather than being distilled through one another, the various styles form distinct song sections thus often forming a patchwork structure which can cause spasmodic changes in momentum and hue. The alchemy that binds the record together, however, is the echoed, ethereal atmospherics and ceremonial naturalism that creates weird and otherworldly dimensions. As with most overblown, eccentric or extreme music there is a risk of straying into the absurd or ridiculous and The Thule Grimoires can perhaps get caught up in own cosmic self yet there is no denying von Meilenwald's big thinking, planetary imagination, and obvious meticulousness.

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