Located on the estuary of the River Orwell in beautiful Suffolk, Ipswich is not the kind of place that can openly compete with cities like Birmingham and London in terms of its overall significance in the evolution of Heavy Metal music in Britain.
Over the last twenty years, however, it has been the breeding ground for a small number of unique and influential bands such as Cradle Of Filth and the war-themed Blacksters Eastern Front who have only now released their second full length album entitled “Descent Into Genocide”.
Stylistically-speaking, the brand of Black Metal that the four lads in question have chosen to serve does not showcase any massive departure from the kind of music created by the founding fathers of the scene back in the early 90s. It is bombastic drum beats, high-pitched guitar distortion and raspy/screaming vocals that one is predominantly exposed to in the eight compositions on offer.
What scores “Descent Into Genocide” a few much needed points, however, is the band’s ability to incorporate a number of interesting narrative style vocals and moody guitar harmonies/melodies – themes which not only give life to the war-styled concept of the album but also provide a few moments of breathing in between the relentless battering performed by the quartet and especially newly-acquired/mysteriously-named drummer Sanctorum.
Opening with the sound of war planes dropping bombs, “Retribution Sky” is a perfect example of the type of rhythmically intense Black Metal that these guys love to perform and it is followed by the faster but also far more melodic seven minute ditto “The Hanging Of Faith”.
Equally urgent in its opening moments but incorporating two melody-driven breaks in its seven and a half minute duration, “Blitzfreeze” offers a nice variation of themes onto the listener but the price of the most impressive song of the album will have to go to “Katyn Forest” – an eight minute epic filled with military-esque drum themes, meaty riffs and narrative-style vocals in both German and Polish which further enhance the song’s unique theme and atmosphere.
The same-titled “Descent Into Genocide” does find a few Iron Maiden sounding guitar melodies creeping in and, while “Die Reise In Den Tod Pt.1” continues in a similar atmospheric/melodic tempo, things return to their fast/aggressive best in both “Ghouls Of Leningrad”.
In the eight and a half minute “In Memory Of The Fallen” you don’t only have a piece of music that is thematically interesting but also one that provides an appropriate ending to this, at times, relentlessly paced release.
Though not the most original sounding of Black Metal albums you’ll get to listen to this year “Descent Into Genocide” is not a badly performed one either.
Chances are that if you like your Black Metal to be intense, riff-based and relatively straight forward you will really appreciate this eight track release.
What I found to be missing from Eastern Front’s second studio album apart from the kind of production that enables each instrument to breathe and shine through are a couple of hair-raising moments that all releases need in order to stand out from the crowd , hence the relatively moderate rating score.