Considering the tragic car accident that Polish black metal group Blaze of Perdition encountered back in late 2013, the title of the band’s new album, “Near Death Revelations” doesn’t seem so shocking. Even more tragic that the band had lost one of their own, bassist Wojciech “Ikaroz” Janus, doubtlessly one of the driving forces of Blaze of Perdition’s musical direction up until that point. So essentially, new album “Near Death Revelations” is both a reaction to that unfortunate state of affairs and a reaffirmation that Blaze of Perdition are still going strong-more importantly, the spirit hasn’t died. And musically, things sound stronger than ever.
The music in “Near Death Revelations” is as emotional as you’d expect a band in Blaze of Perdition’s situation to be, and the grief doubtlessly inflicts upon all the bitter, harsh albeit sinister black metal musings of each of these seven songs. The opening salvo of ‘Królestwo Niczyje’ is haunted by ambient passages, riveting, relentless guitar work and some slightly disorienting human gargles which actually would sound more comfortable in a hellish setting. Nonetheless, it’s simply one of the accounts of what each member has gone through since the accident, and so without any forethought as to what may be lacking here, the band seem to inflict their emotions onto respective instruments as if their heart beckoned them to do so. It’s certainly an emotional affair, and essentially that’s where the band thoroughly succeed on “Near Death Revelations”. There are some songs which at times seem to overstay their welcome-notably the two seven-minute long affairs after the opener in ‘Into the Void Again’ and ‘When Mirrors Shatter’-but this is simply inevitable given that the whole album takes nearly an hour of run-time to end. The groovy black metal musings of the former change things down to a considerably more thunderous mid-paced stomp, and the menacing, frenetic pace of the latter brings things eventually to a chaotic finish. Yet what links these songs together is how culminative instrumental efforts are used to contrast the more melodic stylings of the songwriting-something which seems more honest when you consider the last two years of the band’s career.
There are moments where Blaze of Perdtion encounter more adventurous passages here, though the majority of this adventurousness is in the ambient parts and the cleaner vocal howls. Again, this is simply another aspect of the emotional side of the band, but perhaps the two songs which are most relevant to this idea are ‘Dreams Shall Flesh’ and its menacing counterpart, ‘Cold Morning Fears’. With these two songs, the straightforward black metal edge doesn’t seem so prevalent. The former seems to embark on a more psychadelic voyage, where cleaner vocals work with the harsher style to pour through the cloudy production and actually serves as some of the most progressive music of Blaze of Perdition’s career yet. The latter is more simplistic in comparison, but is knee-deep in melody and harmony, and with moments to spare each instrument seems to weep its way through the length as opposed to bringing heaviness to the forefront. Indeed, even the album closer has a startling finish, where the ambiance and black metal signatures are fused together to create quite an epic, atmospheric flourish by the end.
This, inevitably, is a honest piece of work for Blaze of Perdition. With “Near Death Revelations”, musical ideas conflict with grieving emotions but never do the two aspects seem to fight-rather, they co-operate and the end product is a seamless, unrelentingly emotional voyage through black metal, ambient music and human pain. Perhaps the album could have been slightly shorter in the long run, but this is simply a minor flaw when you consider the real importance of “Near Death Revelations”. That said, it also turns out to be one of Blaze of Perdtion’s career-defining efforts.
Released: 26th June 2015
1. Królestwo Niczyje
2. Into the Void Again
3. When Mirrors Shatter
4. Dreams Shall Flesh
5. Cold Morning Fears
6. The Tunnel
7. Of No Light