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Cold Dismay

Blasphemour (2013)
Rating: 7/10

From the epic intro of ‘Serene’, with its moody, reflective keys I really didn’t know what to expect from Siberian band WirgHata. Of course, a majority of album introductions can be deceiving, but the rather mystical band moniker and bleak opus title suggests a band with black metal leanings, and I was correct in my assumption.

WirgHata have a variety of influences however, choosing not to be so easily categorised as a straightforward orchestral black metal band, although fans of cleaner black metal such as Cradle Of Filth will no doubt be impressed by the screeching vocals and epic structures on offer. Even so, WirgHata apply some nice subtleties within the framework of their sound, opting to melt together classic heavy metal and even death metal at times, with the alternative vocal attack.

Musically, Cold Dismay is an intriguing album from the off, as ‘Through The Eyes Of Serpent’ gets off the ground at pace before combining some extremely accessible, traditional metal values with harsher, speedier angles.

WirgHata began life in 2008 as a pure black metal combo but their evolution has enabled them to effortlessly inject varying styles into their sound and some of the unusual arrangements on this record have to be admired. ‘Winter Storm’ rings out with deathly, guttural vocals and a heavy riff, but then transforms into a weird array of meddling keys and jaunty dynamics before heading into a straightforward metal blaze which incorporates some excellent soloing.

The strong melodies are constant, allowing accessibility in spite of the grating black metal rasps which can begin to irritate after a short while, but such are the meandering passages of suspense and oddness that WirgHata make for mild entertainment at least. Any band that can remain open-minded to a variation of effects and instruments is clearly on the right path and certainly won’t find themselves hindered by being middle of the road.

Cold Dismay is not the heaviest album you will hear, but it’s one that sets out to impose itself as a creative entity, even with the seemingly more mediocre speed of ‘This Is The End’, and listeners will soon find themselves hit by some rather peculiar segments amidst the colder guitar sound. The raspier and guttural vocals do work together for the most part, but because the music is so unpredictable you soon become distracted from the voices.

My favourite tune of the ten tracks on the record is the moody ‘In The Sands Of Solitude’, which starts out as a creeping murmur before lurching into a heavier riff accompanied by some decent gothic orchestration. WirgHata won’t be to everyone’s taste, but those who’ve dug the Cradle Of Filth and Dimmu Borgir style over the years won’t be too dismayed by this record.

Neil Arnold

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