Black metal plays host to endless covens,collectives and cults that work to craft a unifying sound and aesthetic representative of themselves and their beliefs. Shaatan hail from the Black Twilight Circle, one such group that focuses on a shared pre-Hispanic heritage that comes through in the music of those involved. These societies and the secrecy around them only serve to add to the cabalistic atmosphere that already surrounds the genre and helps wreath the music in some mystery, a rare commodity in the days of having instant access to almost any information. Finding these collectives of artists is almost always rewarding as you can generally find one or two more like-minded artists to listen to.
Shataan, while using elements of black metal in their music, don’t really fit this narrow genre classification. Utilizing feelings of emptiness and open passages in their songs one isn’t reminded so much of snow capped mountains and frigid terrain so much as dark, mist ensorcelled paths twisting thought the the heart of an ancient forest. So I mean, the expected lonely imagery is still there, just with a twist. Most of the time it works really well for me;there are only a couple songs on this album I can’t get behind.
The main sticking point for me is the very first track, “Scorn at Heart”. It has an almost surf rock feel to the riff which kills the atmosphere before it can even start and just kind of feels out of place on the album. Definitely not a strong song to open the album with. Or maybe I’m ignorant and missing something? What follows though, once that riff is tossed to the side, is worth a listen. The second track “Leave Behind” features the fiercest black metal lead flute I have or will ever hear (because that’s a thing now) and serves as a much better introduction the Shataan sound than “Scorn.”
Shatann use two very distinct vocal styles on this release, one clear and almost soaring (kinda like Conan but less doom for obvious reasons) while the other is the more expected sinister, almost hissed, delivery. This vocal dichotomy really sets “Weigh Of The Wolf” apart, almost as much as the flute, from most music bearing the “black” moniker. Many of the vocals can actually be understood on the first listen, without a lyrics sheet. Blasphemy right? I’m into it. Shake it up and scare the “trve.” They aren’t much fun anyways.
The middle three songs on this album (“Release”, “Chamber”,and ”Stand Apart”) stand together as the strongest songs on “Weigh Of The Wolf.” They each manage to complement each other and showcase the wildly different elements at play. Give these three tracks a chance before just dismissing it because it’s weird and has a flute. It’s not an album for everyone, but for those who are tired of copycat “so grim, so trve” 1990’s Norwegian wanna-be’s and aren’t scared to listen to something not quite as evil it’s worth checking out.
-Scotty Floronic (@drunkgraveyard)