Once upon a time, The Ruins Of Beverast were easy to perceive as more (or perhaps less) than human. Doom-dealer Alexander von Meilenwald’s brand was one of almost imperceptible conceptual mystery splashed atop longform extreme metal beholden to vibes and feelings more than order. Take heralded classic Rain Upon The Impure. It’s no easy thing to firmly grasp a record that featured multiple fifteen-plus minute compositions that sounded like they were recorded by ogres in a cave. Albums like Blood Vaults or Foulest Semen Of A Sheltered Elite were clearly recorded in music studios, but the compositions remained gargantuan and the language and concepts classically “kvlt”. These can only be the work of some demon or an occult warlock, surely? Why then does their newest record, The Thule Grimoires, sound so unsettlingly human?
On the surface the record may seem no different from the rest of their material. The tone is different at least, The Ruins Of Beverast digging into a gothic doom style that quickly yields tired “Type O Beverast” jokes by the hundred. The length certainly hasn’t changed though. The shortest track here is six minutes while the three longest dive well past ten. There’s plenty of quirky language and high-minded concepts at work here too.
So what’s changed? Most notably, the songwriting. The Thule Grimoires is likely the most doom-rooted work of Meilenwald’s to date. Where there was previously an eagerness to dance between blastbeat-laden black metal and sluggish doom dirges, now even the blastbeats feel more mid-tempo. ‘Ropes Into Eden’ wastes little time kicking into some double bass, but it’s not as frantic as anything from Unlock The Shrine. It’s easy to see the order at work here; atmospheric intro, mid-tempo blast, slow doom riff, effects-laden clean singing, etc. The compositions are easy to wrap your head around, where once they seemed so mysterious. That’s not necessarily a bad thing either, but the record does sound as though it was made by a “normal” band, and in the context of Beverast’s career that’s a weird feeling. It’s as if a doppelganger has replaced someone close to you with only the barest hints that something is wrong.
The sharp edge of other Beverast records has been shaved off in favour of a warmer, bass-heavy mix. It’s a fine mix, but a bit of bite has been stolen away to the album’s detriment. And the songs are all great for the most part, the exception perhaps being ‘Mammothpolis’ which attempts a delirious drug-fueled atmosphere that can just be annoying if you’re not in the mood for it. The verdict then is positive, but with a lingering uncertainty on the side. Is a more human Beverast a good thing or was self-imposed distance part of the appeal? Time will tell.
The Thule Grimoires is out now on Ván Records. Order here.
Words: Brett Tharp