I’m going to add the obligatory note that the BlazeBirth Hall’s views don’t reflect those of the writer or DIAG. This should go without saying in all of our reviews regardless of any bands’ views, but in today’s volatile political climate and everyone being quick to accuse everyone else of everything, such obvious statements are unfortunately necessary.
Today we’ll be looking at Sternatis’ obscure demo “Смерчем воли тараня,” recorded some seventeen years ago and whose title apparently translates to “Ramming with Maelstorm [sic] of Will” (might as well still be in Russian, amirite?). Sternatis is one of the more obscure bands of an already obscure group of Russian black metal bands called the BlazeBirth Hall, renowned for the output of bands like Branikald, Forest, Raven Dark and Nitberg particularly between the mid-nineties and early 2000s. Ragnarok Records recently reissued Sternatis’ sole demo to date in 300 beautiful, hand-numbered A5 digipaks that really have to be seen to be believed.
Sternatis involves numerous BlazeBirth Hall names in its ranks for this release; Kaldrad plays bass on the three proper black metal tracks, Ransverdi provides the drums, while Ulv and Njard appear on the fifth track with acoustic guitars and clean vocals respectively. Finally, the mastermind responsible for bringing us this twist on the BlazeBirth Hall’s sound is Moroth, and he handles the guitars and vocals.
I’ll concede that this doesn’t start particularly well; three and a half minutes of a guitar oscillating back and forth. It’s an interesting effect, but by the end of it, yeah, we’re done with it. Fortunately, things pick up considerably afterwards. The bulk of this demo is three tracks of frantic, freezing black metal. The guitars cut through you like icy winds, and Moroth’s chilling vocals resound of desperation and rage. The title track starts with Njard’s excellent clean vocals lording over an oddly chugging section to give the most poignant moment in this demo. The oneiric ‘Сражением льда и огня кристальные дали объяты’ (‘With a Battle of Ice and Fire the Crystal Horizons Are Overtaken’) is a BlazeBirth Hall staple of distant, watery guitar quickly and aimlessly dancing around like an aurora. The final track, ‘Раздвигая центр плазмы’ (‘Parting the Core of Plasma’ – sure, why not), is a haunting and atmospheric instrumental; the lonely, echoing guitar sounding like an abyss groaning and atrophying under its own weight is just a phenomenal way to end this demo.
This is raw, ugly black metal that makes no pretenses of pandering to your ears. The BlazeBirth Hall trademark sounds of long, repetitive black metal tracks with wandering instrumentals is entirely present, so if you’re not a fan of their style of black metal, Sternatis definitely isn’t going to change that. If you are though, this is a unique variant on their own sound and will be necessary for you.
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