“Just switch one letter to change the city”, reads the poster at Dublin airport. The city in question is Lublin in Poland, Blaze of Perdition’s city of origin, but I can’t imagine the tourist office was thinking of “Near Death Revelations” as part of their promotional campaign.
Frankly they should. Blaze of Perdition’s brand of black metal is described as “enigmatic”, which is enigmatic in itself. What this means, having listened to this album, is layers of cleverly worked arrangements which mix up the atmospheres, make them more interesting than the norm, and pile on the agony. Apart from the short gloomy and chasmic experience which makes up “The Tunnel”, each track is substantial and full of intrigue. Thus is “Królestno Nicyje”. A fiery thread runs through this spooky and haunting track. Its steadiness adds an air of threat. On the vocal front the extended growls are in the background and add support as a whirlwind is whipped up. It’s hugely atmospheric. That’s not all as ghostly whistles seem to end it but the flames of the fire are fanned and it rises majestically from the ashes before heading into a bleak psychedelic dreamworld. Enigmatic, indeed. Then “Into the Void” takes over with its grumbly and memorable riff line. Metal horror and darkness fill the void. It’s very much in the tradition of those fine black, blacker and blackest Polish bands but Blaze of Perdition add multiple layers of colour and intrigue into the instrumental mix. From the creepy end of “Into the Void” emerges the despairing and rough “When Mirrors Shatter”. This is the sound of hard labour. The pendulum swings as if the labourer is breaking rocks. It’s harsh, fire is all around and the ferocity expands. The imagery is vivid. The tone is that of an impending execution. “When Mirrors Shatter” continues wildly and mercilessly on its seven minute course, ending with the croaking sound of death. It is worth noting that Blaze of Perdition’s band members were involved in a car accident, during which one of their band members tragically died. I do not know if “When Mirrors Shatter” relates to this, but I would not be surprised. It is chilling.
Levity is not round the corner. Dark resonant waves thunder through the background of another deep epic. “Dreams Shall Flesh” regresses into the innermost psyche, promoting floating nastiness and horror as chunky rays of darkness sweeps forward. It could be said that the structure seems chaotic but it’s not. Each layer is highly disciplined. “Dreams Shall Flesh” is highly charged and atmospheric. This draws analogy with the near death revelations of the album’s title. Killer endings seem to be a speciality of them too. The mood shifts slightly as “Cold Morning Fears” seems to come more from the outside. It’s icy cold and dingy out there and the track is penetrating. Winds whistle as the guitar hangs us out to dry in the prolonged gloom and lingering black metal. There are cries in the background, adding gruesome theatricality. All that comes out of this twisted majestic slab is utter despair. Polish harshness has encountered the cynicism of Godseed and the Norwegians.
This album concludes with eleven and a half minutes of “Of No Light”. Mysterious crashing sounds and cries invade the murderous progression. It’s total black metal, total war. The monstrous range of sounds blend to form a compelling and irresistible mix. Winds howl as it slows to start up a second main passage, then the intriguing representation of barren lands and hostile territories continues in its blackened way. As the third part begins, eerie howls combine with the suggestive sound of the guitar. The scene of horror rises majestically. Drums thunder and the guitar rings out dramatically. The soundscape is massive.
This is a brilliant work. The sense of tragedy is there. Blaze of Perdition convey powerful pictures by applying multiple layers of darkness. “Near Death Revelations” is high on both imagination and atmosphere.
(9/10 Andrew Doherty)