Hymn of the Dead
Absolute Hell Production 2008
Frostgrave is Larenuf's predecessor for the cult black metal outfit Tangorodrim. Hymn of the Dead was actually recorded in 1996 yet its sound is timeless and classic in the same instance. Frostgrave's sound consists mainly of ultra-thin, trebly guitars and demonic vocals. On the album's opener, Frost, it is made crystal clear that traditional black metal played at warp speed is what Frostgrave will be channeling from the elder gods. Clear nods to Darkthrone's Under a Funeral Moon are made with cold and unfeeling riffs on each of the album's seven songs, especially on the second track Grave which is pervaded by an unearthly nocturnal atmosphere. Funeral Forest takes more of a mid-tempo approach with some killer cymbal rides before the song hits a crescendo with blinding blizzard riffing. My favorite track of the album is Black Metal and End and the manner in which it uses frigid melodies and killer breaks towards the 3:09 mark which is subtly reminiscent of A Blaze in the Northern Sky. The Soulless Emptiness is My Kingdom has more of a Burzum feel to its riffing and it's mood is more somber. The vocals on Hymn of the Dead are harsh with a delayed effect to most of them creating a sepulchral tone for the evil flowing from Larenuf's tormented throat. The beautiful coverart is also notable. It looks like something from an old Russian folk tale with a woman holding a skull lantern in front of Bab-Yaga's house in the woods. I suppose this is a subtle reference to Larenuf's Russian heritage. To me Frostgrave is even more impressive and worthy of cult status than Tangorodrim. I am extremely delighted this recording has finally seen the light of day. Or the black of night is probably more appropriate.