SummaryA vision of the blackened abyss
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Like an ugly, yet captivating painting that somehow manages to capture’s one attention, Rain upon the Impure is one of those things that could only fall under the category of raw art. Alexander von Meilenwald always had a thing for atmospheric music that would take one on a journey, but nothing else of this band has topped Rain upon the Impure… and I doubt that anything that’s yet to be released will come close to this to begin with.
There’s something mysterious, yet strangely appealing about Rain upon the Impure that has struck a (minor) chord with me ever since I’ve stumbled upon it. Extremely evocative, it’s as if I’m suddenly exposed to some otherworldly horrors that I’m not supposed to witness by the time the first monstrous noise introduces itself and of course, the distinctive production makes everything sound surreal. Distorted waves of emotive riffing melt with harsh inhumane cries that can be heard in the distance, while divine orchestrations and bellowed chants feel a counter element to the record’s crude side. Granted, the album’s surrounding albums should be easier to get into, but personally, my interest in those is extremely limited. Rain upon the Impure may not be as muscular as Foulest Semen of a Sheltered Elite, nor is it as accessible as Unlock the Shrine, yet whereas listening to those records becomes too much of a challenge for their own good (what’s the deal with fillers?!), this one is easily the most cohesive and rewarding record of The Ruins of Beverast.
Colossal compositions often make or break an album and in this case, things fortunately turn out well. I never the idea that I’m listening to the same rehashed themes over and over again, nor do the riffs sound like they’re stuck in a repetition of the same patterns for atmosphere’s sake. “50 Forts Along the Rhine” might trick the listener into promising a non-stop blast of hellish beauty, yet that downpour of elegant riffs functions as a reminder of the album’s subtle changes. Cleaner breaks appear quite frequently, but Alexander von Meilenwald never allows these to become the main focus and only serve as breaking points instead. Even the minimalistic orchestrated sections are more deceiving than anything else, as it never takes long before some intense blasting follows up yet again. “Soliloquy of the Stigmatized” takes a whole different direction at first and exemplifies how a simple interest in doom metal works in Alexander von Meilenwald’s favor. It’s as if an early 90’s My Dying Bride met up with Aeternus; providing an excellent marriage of slow paced, suffocating riffs that get repeated just right enough, while the faster moments provide enough tension between the dramatic and emotive guitar wails… and who could forget those eerie, chanted vocals?
A few minor flaws come down to the interludes (don’t worry, there’s just two of them) and the use of samples (don’t worry either, they’re rarely used). While there are just two interludes on the album, they obviously sound disconnected from the remaining songs, nor do they provide necessary breaks in between. I also find the brief usage of samples to be more tongue-in-cheek than actually beneficial. Come on now, do you really think that “Soil of the Incestuous” would lose its appeal if it weren’t for those movie samples? The industrial-esque beats that they open things up with remind me of Blut aus Nord’s The Work Which Transforms God and are dense, yet frightening enough, but of course Alexander von Meilenwald quickly returns to his trademark style soon after. That said, by the time that final chant laments over that monolithic riff makes it one of the album’s most memorable moments; as if I’ve stumbled upon a forgotten kingdom that stands grand and majestic (though not in forgotten woods, this isn’t Norway, remember?)
Rain upon the Impure is incredible; it provokes the imagination through flexible songs and emotional depth and the constant alternation between rational understanding and subjective satisfaction make it an album that’s perhaps rather felt than rationally understood. Then again, this album this isn’t something you simply hear for a quick dopamine fix – it’s something that you listen to and get carried away by.
Release date: December 24th, 2006
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