dead203_hrizg_individualism_cd‘Hrizg’ is Orcish for ‘pain’ apparently, so it’s fitting that the project is a one-man black metal band, hailing in this case from Spain and masterminded by one Erun-Dagoth. Whilst there are some Mediterranean influences to be found however, for the most part ‘Individualism’ is firmly in the Scandinavian mould. ‘The Darkness I Witness’ is a hybrid of the Swedish and Norwegian sounds, marrying some classic early Darkthrone riffing with a Marduk/Watain approach that mixes ominous, cobwebbed tremolos with all-out blasting. ‘The Strong Against The Stronger ‘ meanwhile borrows heavily from ‘De Mysteriis..’-era Mayhem, whilst managing to fit in a Middle Eastern groove that would sit nicely on a Melechesh album.

Elsewhere throughout the album the riffs recall those of Finnish guitarist Shatraug. ‘No Life After Life’ has the sorrowful swagger and abyssal lurches of Horna or Behexen about it, along with maybe a hint of Strid or Mutiilation in there too. ‘Night of the Wolf’ has a similarly rousing-yet-sorrowful riff, but for the most part just plods along with perfunctory time changes and forgettable tremolo patterns. ‘Hall of Falseness’ is similarly endowed with some very solid mid-paced riffs, the track feeling more focused than most with a better sense of flow and progression, even if the croaky sung vocals are all over the place.

‘When Cryings Are For The Weak’is something of an oddity, mixing Finnish filth with a big groove riff that feels oddly out of place before spinning off into doomy melodic leads. For once though these do actually go somewhere, building up to a release of harmonised guitars that hint at early gothic metal-era Rotting Christ. There’s another tiny, fleeting taste of this old Mediterranean magic buried deep in the otherwise unremarkable ‘From Endless Blackness’ too.  ‘With a Crown of Bitterness’ meanwhile is a real miss; a drudging, disjointed mess of a song that lumbers on interminably towards some unremarkable death metal chugging and the odd bleak melody.

There are some frustratingly good parts on ‘Individualism’, but unfortunately they get lost in amongst a multitude of competent but unremarkable riffs that are applied like Pollyfilla to patch up the cracks in the songs. There is variation here, but influences are piled atop one another haphazardly, with little in the way of over-arching structure, meaning that the songs rarely grab the listener and for the most part just seem to meander along instead. The odd arrangement might sporadically get the blood pumping, but these sparks feel wholly transient, and much of ‘Individualism’ feels like a disappointingly workmanlike exercise plagued by half-formed ideas.

(5.5/10 Erich Zann)