White Death reviews
theposega on July 15th, 2017
White Death, Black Metal
This release is an interesting portrait of where true black metal is in 2017. The days of raw production being mandatory are gone, the musicianship is actually quite competent and the sketchy political ideologies are just briefly dog-whistled.
The main influence here seems to be Satanic Warmaster. Basically every era of Satanic Warmaster is covered here, more or less. From the fun ear candy of Carelian Satanist Madness to the majestic melodicism of Opferblut to the furious power chord riffing of Strength and Honour, all while coated in the same sheen of semi-professionalism a la Fimbulwinter. There's also a hearty dose of Absurd, but quite miraculously those parts aren't laughably inept. I basically like this album because it sounds like what Nachzehrer should have been.
There's some really, really good riffs on this album. The opening one to "Cunt" is something of a jaw dropper, actually. The intro of "Warpath" is cool too with how the drums change tempo halfway through. The harmonized riff nearly three minutes into "Immortal Hunter of the Moon" is quite dazzling. But I suppose more importantly, the songwriting is ace. For a debut, this is kind of incredible. My only real complaint in this department is that the chorus to "Warpath" is repeated a few times too many.
Which leads me to a few other problems with this album. The production is a bit too clean for this style. It's not Nuclear Blast-caliber, but there's some roughness missing. I don't usually mind bands using better production, but it seems quite out of place on this album for whatever reason. Also, while the vocalist does a great Werwolf impression, I wish I felt more of the anger and hate he's screaming about. It feels kinda flat; kinda stage rage-y. And "Kaste" kind of doesn't really blend in with everything else here. I get that they were going for a slower, more dissonant joint a la "Musta Temppeli" off Horna's Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne, but the rest of the material here is too Sargeist-y for it to gel. Not bad, just out of place.
The best song on here, however, is the mid-paced, epic closer "White Death's Power." The melodic lead is catchy as hell and jolly and it's a goddamn blast to listen to. I hope the band writes more in this style in the future, as it stands out the most from their contemporaries.
All in all, it's a fun album. At a half-hour-plus, it doesn't overstay its welcome any. To the Finnblack aficionado, this is mandatory.
NausikaDalazBlindaz on April 24th, 2017
Highly individual homage to 2nd-wave black metal
Named after Simo Häyhä the famous Finnish sniper said to have killed over 500 enemy combatants during the 1939 - 1940 Winter War against the Soviet Union, this band from Lappeenranta aims to do the same to you as its namesake did over 70 years ago: out of the icy cold and silent Arctic comes forth sudden terror, striking swiftly and killing you stone dead, then disappearing back into the blank whiteness as mysteriously as it arose. Well maybe killing you stone dead is a bit of overkill; the band members might be more interested in stunning you temporarily with precision-cut rock-blasting icy black metal that harks back to the classic second wave of Norwegian BM.
Opening track "Born of Unholy Fire" shoots straight between the eyes and ears with its payload of dense blackened rifferama and nuclear-powered blast-beat percussion. The crabby vocals, spilling out lyrics of defiant Satanic worship, nearly trip over the words as fast as they come out and are best treated as another sonic textural element in the rapid-fire music. There are death metal influences in some of the song's rhythms and a strong melody in parts. Most songs are actually very distinctive in their riffs and melodies - some even have catchy pop hooks - even though they're super-fast and if you sneeze at the wrong time, they're gone. For all their speediness, the songs flow well and possess quite a lot of drama and mood. Early songs like "Kaste" and "Immortal Hunter of the Moon" pack in enough distinct riff and melody hooks that they could be ideal singles if the band ever considers angling for a more commercial audience.
While faster, more aggressive tracks like "Goat Emperor" have their appeal, slower songs like "Warpath" are a better showcase of the band's talents and ability to incorporate melody and work in rhythm structures and mood to produce complex music in very self-contained songs. The faster songs come earlier in the album, giving way to slower songs with a greater range of mood and expression and which sometimes reach quite epic and majestic proportions. The closing track is the most complex and varied of all, including as it does an acoustic guitar introduction, a mix of melodic hard rock and BM, and matching voices that give the song a hardcore punk edge.
The album has something to satisfy nearly everyone, from die-hard old-school BM fans to those who like pop melodies or dense, almost symphonic metal that reaches for the stars, without sounding forces or calculating. White Death pay their respects to classic second-wave BM in a highly individual and often quirky way that's minimalist and straightforward in style.