Bloodrain - _Bloodrain II: Ultimatum_
(HexenHammer / Stellar Winter, 2004)
by: Quentin Kalis (8.5 out of 10)
The astute reader may wonder why I am bothering to a review an album that was released in 2004. The same reader could well ask what could justify such a late inclusion, especially considering they have released _Ten Bestial Years_ last year, so a justification is necessary.

Firstly, their third release _Ten Bestial Years_ (_Bloodrain II: Ultimatum_ was preceded by a 2002 demo, _De Vermis Mysteriis_) doesn't count. Information on the band is extremely scarce, but the name and track list suggest that _TBY_ is a compilation of sorts, while _BII:U_ is obviously a proper studio album. Secondly, this band is not well-known outside the CIS states -- and even within the CIS states they no doubt lurk in shadows of other Slavic bands, such as Drudkh and Forest. Thirdly, this is quite simply one of the best albums I have had the pleasure of hearing; consider this as a belated contender for 2004's Top 10.

Moving on to the review proper, _BII:U_ starts with a by now mandatory 'atmospheric' intro. This is a very pedestrian but passable intro that I would have associated with an unambiguously black metal band. There is also a lacklustre Kreator cover ("Bringer of Torture") -- which, incidentally, is also the only song sung in English. _BII:U_ did not earn a high rating for this ancillary fluff however, but rather for the remaining eight 'real' songs, which consist of aggressive and dynamic blackened thrash, moving misleadingly effortlessly from one memorable riff to another. The vocals are a vicious snarl -- although they do experiment with clean vocals on one song, and they are pretty good by black metal standards. The production is decent enough; a typical black metal production would not have worked on a CD of this nature and would have drowned out the instrumentation.

_BII:U_ is not terribly original -- although unexpected from a country whose most notable acts are otherwise all located within the field of pagan folk -- but they do what they do so damn well, and with such conviction, that the listener cannot help but in swept up in the ride. Apart from the Stellar Winter stamp of approval, I did not detect anything that suggested a NSBM connection. Then again, I don't understand Russian.

Although apparently limited to a 1000 copies, it is still available from a number of online outlets. Buy it while you still can.

Contact: http://www.thepaganfront.com/stellarwinter/eng.html

(article published 8/9/2006)


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