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Hrizg - Soterion

Hrizg
Soterion
by Robert Amer at 28 December 2018, 11:53 PM

Underground Spanish Black Metal band, HZRIG, has released three albums since its formation in 2005. In its fourth full-length release, “Soterion,” the quartet impresses with an engaging, well-defined sound while managing to present each track in a distinct way. The album sways more towards the melodic side of the Black Metal spectrum, but ferocity and bleakness still pervade the sound.

After an orchestral intro track, the album opens with “Cisma”. The vocals in the verses are delivered in a melancholic chant that contrasts from the more traditional Black Metal shrieks used throughout the release. The guitars also establish their dissonant and melodic presence, a major feature the band sculpts into its sound. The next two tracks maintain a thrashier pace, showcasing the stamina of Varkhen on drums. First, “Unholy Ritual of Death”, reaches its apex in a blast beat-driven duet between melodically coarse clean vocals, and a simple but effective keyboard choir voice. In “The Mystery of the Dead Stars”, the vocals are attacked with a previously unmatched quality of desperation atop a fresh current of distorted, sonic chaos.

One of the strongest songs on the album is “Psalms for the Repudiated”. It begins with a melodic introduction before eventually speeding up into a riff that is reminiscent of early MAYHEM. The track is filled with smooth transitions bridging sections with different tempos and moods, and the overall arc is also well paced. “The Aftermath” is another exceptional track with its contrasting, but seamless sections. Its memorable refrain also uses a device that also appears in “Riddle of Doom” and “Misanthropic Apotheosis”; a medieval-esque guitar melody that sounds fresh from the fingers of a thirteenth-century bard. “Odium” is the most unique song on the album given its slower pace and more ethereal atmosphere. It is a welcome departure from the faster tracks on the album while still maintaining a great deal of darkness, sounding like a soundtrack for an unholy pilgrimage to the satanic equivalent of the one to Santiago de Compostela.

The cohesiveness of “Soterion” points to HZRIG’S career spanning more than a decade. The veterans crafted varied songs that honor their predecessors while also making something their own, balancing Erun Dagoth’s shrieked, hauntingly melodic, and spoken vocals and a ferocious, but versatile sound. Although the album is not particularly groundbreaking, it certainly separates HZRIG in a crowded sub-genre of swarming guitars, blast beats, and other devices that can become monotonous.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Intro
2. Cisma
3. Unholy Ritual of Death
4. The Mystery of the Dead Stars
5. Bleeding Sacred Signs
6. Psalms for the Repudiated
7. Riddle of Doom
8. The Aftermath
9. Odium
10. Misanthropic Apotheosis
11. Sword of Vlendios - Bonus Track
Lineup:
Erun Dagoth - Guitar, Vocals
Enserune Akhbâmath - Bass
Varkhen - Drums
Kaornekan - Guitars
Record Label: Moribund Records
     


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