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Runemagick - Beyond The Cenotaph Of Mankind Award winner

Beyond The Cenotaph Of Mankind
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 05 March 2023, 9:17 AM

RUNEMAGICK is a Swedish death/doom band who formed in 1990 as DESIDERIUS. They have been highly prolific–their latest album ‘Beyond The Cenotaph Of Mankindis their thirteenth studio album. In addition, they have released nine demo albums, five EPs, four splits, three compilations and one live album.  It is commendable the band has been doing this for so long.  Hard work breeds great rewards and, while I haven’t heard everything they have to offer, I’ve heard enough to know they are one of the most dependable bands out there.  This latest album is yet another journey unto the heart of darkness.

What impresses me the most about “Beyond The Cenotaph Of Mankind,” and the band’s overall sound in general, is how cold and horrific the atmosphere is.  A lot of doom bands go for a cavernous or depressed sound.  While this is definitely cavernous, there is a certain chill in the air that flows out from the music and into the body. With a good pair of headphones, this album will unnerve as it encompasses your senses into the realm of auditory nightmares. The opening riffs of ‘Archaic Magick (After the Red Sun)’ are low, rumbling and hit hard with subtly reserved for a creeping miasma of death. The tone of the guitars is perfect and balanced between death/doom and OSDM.  The tight rhythm section keeps it together, creating a dense, tight package that suffocates.

The vocals are deep, loud, menacing and absolutely perfect for this style—Nicklas is definitely one of the best vocalists in extreme metal. I love how they aren’t afraid to throw in a groove, use dismal melodies to heighten the song, or move quickly for the kill when needed. ‘Endless Night and Eternal End,’ begins with a build up that feels like something ominous is about to happen—-this song injects dose after dose of trepidation.  All death/doom is crushingly heavy but few instill a sense of dread or fear.  The song’s middle portion is a fast groove with a load of power behind it. This movement leads to a slower, but no less effective passage, with the lead guitar taking over to lay down its own menacing barrage of notes.

Revocation of Spectral Paths,’ is more methodical than the previous songs.  The subtle keyboards add in just enough of an otherworldly presence without taking too much from the song. The bass is ultra heavy—the death fuzz hangs in the air and falls upon the song, crushing it.  This is the shortest song on the album but it also represents the band’s overall sound for this album and would be an example track I might show someone who was interested in hearing the band. The band seems to be at their best when they inject moments of speed and melody into their doom.  They are well adept at doing this as neither element is ever overused.  'The Storm Rode Beyond The Firmament,’ is a slow crush for the first half of the song and one of the best portions of the album.  Just after the halfway mark, it speeds up when the slow dirge rises to its crescendo.  The song comes down with a frozen melody that caps it all off.

Nocturnal Deities Of Winter,’ is led by monstrous bass which steers the song through a slow death march upon a land with nothing but darkness to offer.  When the song speeds up, it gets even more harrowing—the guitars are fantastic at building atmosphere throughout the album but they are particularly deadly on this song. The final, and title track, is creepy, lumbering, and slow as molasses–this is exactly how death/doom should sound: huge, bleak, and devastating. This song is a pure doom experience that takes the sound to places that most would not tread. RUNEMAGICK has crafted a solid black hole of rotten death/doom. Any fan of the band, or the genre itself, will want to take a deep dive into this cesspool of doom and despair.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Archaic Magick (After the Red Sun)
2. Endless Night and Eternal End
3. Revocation of Spectral Paths
4. The Storm Rode Beyond the Firmament
5. Nocturnal Deities of Winter
6. Beyond the Cenotaph of Mankind
Nicklas Rudolfsson - Vocals, Guitars
Jonas Blom - Guitars
Emma Rudolfsson - Bass
Daniel Moilanen - Drums
Record Label: Hammerheart Records


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