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Hrizg - Individualism

by Erika Kuenstler at 12 June 2014, 12:02 PM

There are some bands that cling tenaciously to the Black Metal underground, content to produce their misanthropic music for the sake of the music itself, with no interest of fame and renown. One such band is HRIZG, a one-man Black Metal band hailing from Spain. With the band’s name stemming from the Orcish word for pain, “Individualism”, the third full-length release, is a direct statement against following the well-trodden path, even within the scene of Black Metal itself. This combined with the critical acclaimed received by the 2011 album “Anthems to Decrepitude” left me wondering what misanthropic creation would be unleashed on the world this time, with the result leaving me somewhat disappointed.

With a weird yet somehow macabre artwork incorporating a desiccated tree with tentacle-like roots, completed by a crow and a noose, the cover is somehow reminiscent of a satirical take on Yggdrasil, the Norse Tree of Life. The album itself starts out with an intro track “Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes”, which soon morphs into the mid-tempo track “The Darkness I Witness”. Amalgamating a heavily drum driven sound with a twisted and sick vocal style with a bit of synth and guitars thrown in for overall atmosphere, this track sets the mood for the very archetypal and raw form of Black Metal which follows, although the overarching guitar airs do make it more melodic than the sound typically associated with earlier forms of Black Metal, such as the Second Wave in particular. With a total play-time of just over forty minutes, much of “Individualism” consists of such mid-tempo tracks with formulaic Black Metal melodies; however, the incorporation of diverse elements such as the doomier sections found in “Night of the Wolf” and “With a Crown of Bitterness” and the more malevolent strains in the Egyptian scale adopted in “The Strong Against the Stronger” keep the album from sounding repetitive and stale. “To Leave the Roots Grow…” also spices things up a bit, taking the pace up a notch and seeming to be more emotionally charged than the previous tracks, making it one of the highlights of the album, despite its brevity.

One can perhaps argue that “Individualism” tries too hard to forge a path away from “those ones who crawl through the scene holding the banner of weakness”, to quote Erun-Dagoth directly. When one tries too hard to rebel against something, one runs the risk of being controlled by that which one is rebelling against. In a way, it could be said that “Individualism” strives so hard to be non-conformist that it almost becomes an inverse mirror image of the group-mentality it so derides and ends up being a rehash of earlier forms of Black Metal. Having said this though, one could also see the album as the antonym of orthodoxy as it was intended to be. I guess which view you adopt would have a lot to do with how into the whole organised misanthropy thing you really are.

Overall, “Individualism” does have its moments that shine through; however a large portion of it can be labelled as stereotypical and conventional, which is ironic, given the album’s name. Nevertheless, if you’re fed up with overly-clean and accessible Black Metal today, and are looking for some good old doomy mid-to-low tempo Black Metal which does not seek to redefine the genre, then “Individualism” may be just up your alley.

3 Star Rating

1. Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes
2. The Darkness I Witness
3. No Life After Life
4. To Leave the Roots Grow…
5. Night of the Wolf
6. When the Cryings Are for the Weak
7. The Hall of Falseness and Impurity
8. The Strong Against the Stronger
9. From Endless Blackness
10. With a Crown of Bitterness
11. The Lament of God
Erun-Dagoth – All Instruments, Vocals
Record Label: Moribund Cult Records


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