Record Swap: Link vs. Frosty
In this edition of Record Swap, Link Leonhart sends Celtic Frosty on an epic quest through the mountains and forests of a land long forgotten, and Frosty counters with a one-way ticket to Ancient Egypt and the tombs of Pharoahs and old gods. Will either of them make it back alive? The rules for Record Swap are simple: no research, no foreknowledge, no mercy.
Link Leonhart’s Assignment: Crescent’s Pyramid Slaves (2014)
Pyramid Slaves is one of my favorite death metal albums of the last couple of years, and a recipient of tragically little fanfare. It’s heavy, technical, melodic, and intimidating all at once. At times the aggression advances at breakneck speed, and sometimes it spins around the listener in slow motion like a stationary tornado. Naturally I’m curious to hear others’ thoughts on this album, and since what little I’ve written about it has been met with silence, I wonder if it’s actually as good as I think it is or if Link can can tell us why I’m wrong. – Frosty
I can imagine how Celtic Frosty, our resident expert in Frosty metal, found this collection of songs. I do not think he was clicking randomly in his computer. Oh, no! He was definitely raiding some ancestral place looting unknown treasures, desecrating the corpses of long-forgotten kings and unlocking death magick from another aeon. He must be in a travel in Egypt and he found the word Crescent, written in stone, trapped in the horrific doze produced by the Sun itself in the afternoon.
I think that this is a record that doesn’t want to hide in a useless veil of metaphoric rambles; on the opposite, Pyramid Slaves is a direct album, forged by the sands and the hands of Man.
The compositions are comprised of a mix between a Blackened Death approach to the metal genre and the use of some melodic passage lines that extends or contracts, to find spaces and draw in the air of the desert. Behind the ambivalent guitars, the savage drumming rattles with fierceness in blast sections, accentuates the tribal fist-pumping segments; and even stops-and-go to help the strings instruments to push the game of the echoing Egyptian lines and phrasing.
Gates of the Sun, Crown of Pestilance (with that fast double-pedaling shooting near the end) and Pyramids Slaves are winners in the songwriting aspects in this album. The ascending riffs of the dual guitars write each other conjuring with effective ease. And in all these songs, I didn’t felt that the narrative and aesthetic was occasionally absent; in all honest, Crescent could work with their tools in a very practical way.
I do not care if a certain band from another country is using the Ancestral Egypt tales as lyrical content since years ago; I just want to tell you that Pyramid Slaves is a musical and aesthetical monument to the majestic side of that glorious civilization, probably made with a lot of effort.
Sadly, the bad point here is the loud production and the ‘clicky’ drumming that tends to get tired because it is extensively used along all the songs.
But, once you enter that threshold of pain (maybe is a rite of initiation) you will be satisfied to transcend to the Betelgeuse star, or maybe you will enjoy crossing the desert with the phantoms of the past.
Recommended. – Link Leonhart
Celtic Frosty’s Assignment: Wilderun’s Sleep At The Edge of Earth (2015)
My Frosty friend digs a lot of music so I wanted him to enjoy whatever I pick. Nevertheless, It was a very difficult task. I crossed with Wilderun last album a few months ago and I feel that is a very good album. Mixes the ‘mountain vibe’ with forest-inspired Progressive Death Metal easily; it is indeed both complex and charming at the same time. Since I know that my partner in this edition is a fellow guardian of the nature, so I will let him to delve into the music and Sleep at the Edge of the Earth. I hope he liked it! – Link Leonhart.
When Link sent me this album, I hesitated. I saw the lush green mountainside and the “folk” tag at the bottom of the Bandcamp page, and I steeled myself for yet another Agalloch clone (in all fairness, there is also an “Agalloch” tag). And even though Link has the impression that I am a fellow guardian of nature, it’s hot as fuck outside and I love my A/C.
But Wilderun isn’t interested in nature worship or sitting on a fallen log in the middle of the woods to contemplate existence or whatever bullshit people in the Pacific Northwest are up to. No need to look for any traces of black here. This is folk metal that sounds like an honest-to-god soundtrack to some elven fantasy adventure.
These fellas are lively storytellers. I don’t mean lyrically, because I honestly have no idea what’s being said since I can’t do any research, but musically. The instrumental intro and ensuing first 1:40 seconds of “And So Opens the Earth (Ash Memory Part I)” are straight out of a trailer for a movie Lord of the Rings fans would drool over. And then the Irish fog begins to lift, the metal shows up and those clean vocals…
Listen, I honestly would have preferred if Evan Berry just sang clean through the entire album. The death metal growls technically work, but there’s nothing remarkable about them, and they don’t add anything to the songs. It would have been much more interesting to see how far he could have pushed his cleans in those heavier moments and really reached for something even more grandiose on an already incredibly grandiose record. Hit those highs, bro, we believe in you! We get death metal growls all day, but a truly good vocalist like this doesn’t come along all that often anymore, and it’s something traditional metal fans crave.
Everything else about Sleep At the Edge of the Earth is perfectly serviceable for a symphonic folk metal record, and often reaches peaks that are thrillingly cinematic and more than worthy of this storied genre. Any fan of folk metal or of riding a white stallion through an enchanted forest would be a fool to pass this one up. It’s not my typical listen, but I have found myself coming back to it when I need a little mandolin and a few elves in my life. Thanks to Link for the recommendation, and I will in turn recommend it to you, dear reader. This one is certainly worth a spin. – Celtic Frosty
So, this battle ended up more like a warm embrace between Olaf and cuddly Link than a duel to the death between the hardened Hero of Time and a murderous Jack Frost. Everyone wins! Want to get involved in Record Swap? Email me at email@example.com.