GreyHeavenThis one came out at the tail end of last year and although this Russian based band are completely new to me they have certainly created a lasting impression. There is little in the way of light about this their second full length album which follows on from the self-titled Grey Heaven Fall of 2011. Black Wisdom spreads knowledge through 6 rather gargantuan tracks and balances nicely on the precipice between black and death metal, melding both into a sound of their own with other nods along the way.

‘The Lord Is Blissful In Grief’ is a non redemptive trawl into the abyss where guitars scythe like an army of devouring locusts rather like an all-consuming plague. Vocals are gruff and guttural with little in the way of mercy behind them uttering lyrically black curses and bitter bile delivered right from the heart. One thing that is quickly noted is that this is scary stuff and not for the faint hearted in the slightest as it mixes abyssal metal of death with pitch black nastiness plummeting you headlong into its chasm of hate. The melody is there as everything surges away and it’s totally obsidian but richly contained amidst the barbaric furrowing sound. A slight relaxing of speed allows it to glisten and glitter away with some ceremonial chanting lingering in the distance. The musicianship is tight and very impressive, this lot can really play and the combination of everything is windswept and highly impressive. ‘Spirit Of Oppression’ bristles and bursts in with everything flailing, deathly and black although dissolving down the line into a doomy stomp too. I try and think of similar bands to compare this to but although many are on the tip of my tongue it is just too unique to tar the band with any and instead just fixate on a rich instrumental passage that shows some relief as it slows its way into gloom and despair. There is no problem constructing a song of epic proportions as this 11 minute number clearly illustrates and they have the doom parts nailed as well as anything else. I am reminded a bit of bands on the Solitude roster not perhaps surprising as they too are Russian and looking closer I notice that members here have played live in both Comatose Vigil and Abstract Spirit, both groups on the label.

Atmosphere drips and oozes from every pore of this album and I expect that is one of the reasons apart from the excellent skills of the players that it has been a particularly effective listen. There are things hiding around the corner such as a breath-taking weeping guitar line and things never gets stale in the slightest. The Russian language on ‘To The Doomed Sons Of Earth’ makes things all the more expressive and gives the mood along with the galloping musicianship a bit more of a pagan furrow and flavour. Sanctuary is found in both title and an ominous and cold dark ambient bridge, one that has you cautiously exploring before the final two pieces. ‘Tranquillity Of The Possessed’ is like a hideous marriage between bands like Portal, Deathspell Omega and Nile (and again that’s a bit of a lazy comparison) but it’s a track that no exorcist is going to be able to win a battle between good and evil over. It’s straight down the left hand path all the way as it twists and turns, speaking in garbled tongues. Only the bravest interloper into this hell will make it as far as last number ‘That Nail In A Heart’ and can expect booby traps laden with peril before escaping. It was well worth the attempt though as Black Wisdom has proven an endurance test that is richly rewarding. Seek it out and find darkest treasure or your downfall at the following links.

(8/10 Pete Woods)