After a 22-year journey, ALGHAZANTH are releasing their funeral album, “Eight Coffin Nails.” Being (well, claiming to be) a black metal aficionado, it just seemed right for me to tackle their swan song of a record. Unfamiliar with their previous works, I couldn’t tell anyone how their last nail in the coffin holds up to the former seven, so I’m diving into this casket completely blind; all that matters is a quality sepulcher after all, to rest your weary bones for the rest of eternity.
The first track of the album, “Self-exiled,” starts off without any bells and whistles, but rather with a quick drum intro and a scream into a quieter “traditional” intro sequence. After the introductions have been made, it’s headfirst into melodic black metal. “Self-exiled” comes alive during the last 2 minutes, when it ventures into more emotionally charged territory and makes good use of the ambiance given by the keyboards and guitars, elevating that part of the song above the others.
Sadly this trend does not continue for a whole lot of the album. To my ear, a lot of it is generic melodic black metal through and through, occasionally livened up by a good section of keyboards or a pleasant riff. The singing – while competent and par-the-course for the genre – is hopelessly uninspired, but does the job as well as can be expected, which kind of ties into my problems with the ‘standard’ black metal format nowadays.
The fifth and eighth songs, “At Their Table” and “Pohjoinen” respectively, are the odd ducks of the record; “ATT” for trying to differentiate itself from the other songs by being compositionally different, and “Pohjoinen” for being an instrumental track that gives a brief and welcome respite from the relentless assault of the seven songs beforehand.
“To Flames the Flesh” (last song of the album) is probably the best song of them all, where you can actually hear a graduated sound from generic black metal angst into focused black metal angst, which managed to evoke the feeling of listening to a work of art. The latter half of the song skillfully puts together wistful keyboards and melancholic guitars to bring forth a sad passage, indeed a requiem for the band itself, as the last 2 minutes kick the gloom into overdrive. It works and is effective, it’s just a damn shame that it isn’t present anywhere else in the rest of the album.
The overall feeling after listening to “Eight Coffin Nails” repeatedly is a whole lot of nothing. Trying to write about it is like being absorbed into a black hole – time seems to stretch into infinity as the world around you goes by, constantly getting pulled into thinking about other, better albums you could be listening to right now. Being well-aware and even expectant of works that slowly open up to reveal soundscapes and musical secrets don’t seem to apply to this funeral album, sadly. Listening to it for hours on repeat – as well as spacing out the play-throughs – don’t seem to improve anything. It’s not even that it’s a bad album; it is just painfully average. Occasional pieces of brilliance are overshadowed by the run-of-the-mill sections to get to those pieces. ALGHAZANTH apparently go to their rest not with a bang nor a whimper, but rather with a weary sigh and an air of inevitability. Still, 22 years is nothing to scoff at, and going out on your own terms is admirable, so rest easy, friends.
Written by Kalle Uotila
- Facing the North
- Aureate Water
- The Upright Road
- At Their Table
- The Foe of Many Masks
- Twice Eleven
- To Flames the Flesh
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