Listening to Imminence, the debut album from Russian symphonic death/black metallers Bjarm, is like standing in the middle of two separate but merging dramatic climates. Walking the line between beauty and savagery, both extremes embracing each other for a tumultuous ravenous tempest, imagination and emotions are buffeted and stripped raw yet simultaneously seduced and exposed to gloriously epic and invigorating ambiences. The release is an enthralling and intimidating journey, a treacherous and at times disorientating conflict but dramatically compulsive and rewarding.
The Severodvinsk band was formed in the early months of 2009, taking its name from a territory mentioned in Norse legends and tales. The following year saw their demo Defect released, live shows, and subsequently as the next year fell changes in personnel before the band settled down to work on their first album. Self-produced, the Pavel Korotaev mixed and Tony Lindgren (Paradise Lost, Kreator) mastered album was recorded last year and has emerged as a striking and potent introduction to the impressive band.
The scene and atmosphere is imposingly set by opener Approaching of the Close, an instrumental with the charmed harmonies of angels and portentous intimidation of war. It is an epically rising portrait of the time and land theming the release, every scenic exposure caressed by orchestral beauty and dark shadows within predacious climates. Though it does not come with many surprises in its cinematic grandeur, the track grips attention ready for the opening clutches of Knowledge of Doom. Riffs rub invitingly on ears first whilst the symphonic lure of keys swirl with melodic intrigue, both swiftly joined by pungent rhythmic strikes and the throaty rapaciousness of the bass. The track expands its magnetic narrative musically with increasing washes of keys and threatening intensity whilst lyrically hoarse guttural vocals unveil the blackened premise. With siren-esque harmonies gliding overhead the track embraces and violates in equal measure for a formidable and increasingly impacting suasion. The twists do not slow, captivating female vocals laying elegant melodic hands on ears whilst intensity and provocation laps at the senses with sea like relentlessness.
It is an impressive track matched by the heavyweight presence of Ominous Dreams. Rumbles of doomy beats and brewing antagonistic air smothers ears first before keys and guitars cast a web of ill-boding enterprise. It is a strong entrance but the song really gathers pace and riveting invention with a contagiously predatory groove which emerges and the following raw rabidity which fuels a twist in vocals and the sonic toxicity expelled. The mix is insatiable in its voracious intent and merciless attraction, permeating every pore and thought as does the evolving symphonic radiance and melodically rich hues which crowd in later dripping expressive beauty. The track bewitches across its traumatic and thoroughly rewarding landscape before making way for the equally menacing and fascinating enticement of The Nine Worlds. As across the whole release, the listener is thrust into the heart of brutal intent and transfixing melodic romance, the track a battlefield for tenebrous depths and intent with golden hope and enchantment accentuated by again stunning female tones.
Fire Lord’s Torment comes next to make a strong and imagination sparking incitement but despite its skilfully crafted invention and powerfully sculpted textures fails to invite the same strength of passion and hunger for its accomplished offering as other songs, the same slip found by the instrumental title track straight after. Both tracks leave ears and thoughts alive and keen to explore more but fail to leave a lingering and deep rooted impression in their company or after, something the mouth-watering Oracle does not have a problem with. From a deliciously captivating acoustic and melodic coaxing with rising breezes of keys courted by sinew built rhythms, the song sways and immerses senses and emotions in a superbly evocative and spellbinding serenade of sound. Admittedly the caustic vocal scowls which are at odds to the seducing take time to accept but as the song continues to cast its binding spell on the emotions they become a strong texture to the siren song.
Both Secret of the Immortals and The Highest Hall keep the by now greedier appetite for the encounter well fed, the first a provocateur with thrashing swipes of riffs and rhythms aligned to a concentrated charge of intensity. It is a rolling adventure striking out from the poetically smothering melodic breath of keys which also soak the start, an emprise given greater infectious toxins by the great female vocals; something not used enough on the album, as well as unpredictable stabs and scythes of guitar imagination. The second of the two is as primal and brutal as it is rigorously compelling and masterfully incendiary, thanks again to melodies and a female croon. It is a bestial predator at times and a comforting mother’s breast in others, a torment suffocating and strangling hope tempered by the peace and security of instinctive beauty.
Imminence is closed by Tree on the Bones, a threatening and skilled fury to consume the senses but lacking that fuse to full lustful reactions, even though it creates arguably the most intricate and emotion involving proposition on the album. Bjarm has created a striking and at times startling entrance into the world of metal, with only the fact that many tracks are swiftly gone from memory and thoughts once leaving the ears. Nevertheless it is a potential loaded and thrilling incitement to suggest the Russians have a rather healthy future.
Imminence is available now @ https://itunes.apple.com/ru/album/imminence/id889323814
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