Review: TRISTWOOD “Blackcrowned Majesty”

Review: TRISTWOOD “Blackcrowned Majesty”

- in Reviews

The band Tristwood is well-known to fans of experimental music for almost 20 years, it’s not as if they were on the front lines of the industrial black metal genre (like “The Kovenant”), but they’ve got their name, so their releases are anticipated with great enthusiasm all over the world. And considering, that Tristwood took so long pause (there was 10 years gap between two full-length albums, but last year they’ve released a compilation of re-recorded songs “Nyx”), the interest from fans didn’t vanish. So, the album “Blackcrowned Majesty” was truly expected, and it was recently released by the label Visionaire Productions (but before that the band released it digitally on bandcamp).

The main problem of Tristwood was a lack of strong hits, and this album isn’t an exception, despite the fact, that their music is quite interesting, there’s no striking melodies or catchy passages. So, it is difficult to highlight some of the songs, the album sounds smooth and in tune with the general concept, and that’s strange because the songs notably differ from one another. Because some of the songs are based on black metal foundation (like “The Fall of Rauthra’s Fate” or “Bone Cathedral”), but some on death metal (“He Who Traversed a Greater Oblivion” or “A Blackcrowned Majesty”). But the last song “Nightshade Eternal” proved, that Tristwood can skillfully combine these elements together.

“Blackcrowned Majesty” sounds raw and harsh, and it lacks accents and clarity, the quality of sound can’t provide with pleasure to enjoy every instrument or tone, and overall sounding seems to fade in neutral mess. The same can be applied for the voice with classic attitude – deep growls during the death metal pieces, and shrieking screams during the black metal, but the voice lacks emotions and intensity, and by the way it is often too distorted or muted (like in the first two songs “Re-Enthronment of the Damned” and “He Who Traversed a Greater Oblivion”). On the last song “Nightshade Eternal” the vocalist sings in some ritualistic way. It’s unforgivable for a full-length album in 21st century, sometimes there’s a feeling, that it’s some sort of demo record from the 90s, despite the fact, that every instrument is clearly remastered, but because of general sounding, the overall impression is unclear, and so is the music.

The guitar player Neru sometimes shows his talent, like with decreasing guitar riff in song “The Hall of Rauthra’s Fate” or catchy guitar passage with electronic background on song “Acherontic Deathcult”, but generally the guitars are rather monotonous and traditional. The heavy repetitive metallic riffs are noticeable on “He Who Traversed a Greater Oblivion”, but on song “Bone Cathedral” the guitars sound distorted and are closer to industrial noise. The drummer rocks out his crazy speed on “Acherontic Deathcult”, and together with bassist JD they form pretty good rhythm section. But due to bad sound it’s not possible to fully savor their work.

The most interesting part on this record are electronic motives, which gave Tristwood rightful title to call themselves industrial black/death metal band. These are delicately dispersed throughout the album and are presented on every track. Electronic parts create the atmospheric mood to this record, and the most atmospheric tracks are the last ones – “Bone Cathedral” and “Nightshade Eternal”. “Blackcrowned Majesty” starts with cosmic intro, but after that the metal foundation takes a dominant role, and the electronic sound effects mostly stay on the background. On “He Who Traversed a Greater Oblivion” (with buzzing guitars) and “Blackcrowned Majesty” the keyboards create industrial base, so these songs are heavier than those, when synthesizers build up more ambient influence (and surprisingly, the track “Acherontic Deathcult” is closer to pop song due to electronic ambiance in choruses). But the title track of the album “Blackcrowned Majesty” is full of dark and space ambient motives. The last song “Nightshade Eternal” is overcharged with psychedelic sound effects and buzzing guitars, but strangely enough, this song also is the most melodic on this record, despite the fact, that “Blackcrowned Majesty” definitely lacks melodiousness.

This release is chaotic because of muted and messy sound, and even the cover art shows the similar relevance, in truth it’s a bit bright for such a release, but it emanates the same abstractness and exuberance. Alas, it’s hard to appreciate the last Tristwood’s creation due to problematic sound, but still it would be very welcome to find more interesting and vivid songs on their next release.

Release date: May 29th, 2020

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About the author

I am into metal music from the school times, started from traditional genres, and now exploring the experimental scene. I'm also interested in modern architecture and contemporary art.

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