“The Harrowing of Hearts”

By Anathema Decree

Unremarkable is a word that wholly exemplifies BLAZE OF PERDITION's latest effort “The Harrowing of Hearts”. Honestly, it was rather burdensome to come up with a proper critique for the Polish veterans' newest full-length. I kept listening to it repeatedly and focusing on minutia, while trying to mentally take note of particular intricacies, compositional arrangements, and musical chops worth discussing. Along the way, I found it difficult to retain much of note that was memorable in either direction, both positive and negative.

This, the fifth LP by these denizens from the lands of The Winged Hussars, marks ten years since their debut full-length, and thirteen since their formation. Departing from their partnership with Agonia Records which was responsible for their previous two releases, “The Harrowing of Hearts” got a bonafide promotional campaign and release with none other than the semi-underground behemoths, Metal Blade Records.

The music is predominantly mid-paced. A droning and almost repetitive riff structure not atypical from others in the genre, consumes much of the playtime here. Intertwined with occasional melodic overtures and tempo changes, Blaze of Perdition delivers a rather predictable and seemingly uninterested, yet well produced entry to their catalogue.

The guitars often implement a tremolo attack, fluctuating between the aforementioned approach and more atmospheric chord progressions, sometimes even strangely veering off into wispy melodies. The third song “Transmutation of Sins” is at parts peculiarly redolent of BILLY IDOL's “White Wedding” when engaging in this tactic! The vocalist generally utilizes a mid-toned black metal rasp that's clearer in annunciation than most within the genre, accompanied by the occasional introduction of the odd, almost half sung whisper reminiscent of the jarring and personally unpalatable derangement so often present on the later-day CATTLE DECAPITATION records. This is very painfully featured on the second track titled “With Madman's Faith”. The drums, typical for the genre, seem to add more flare than the previously mentioned contributions. All of the musicianship is more than competent in delivering the story that they were going for here. Overall, the LP has a solid mix.

Lyrically the themes are generally anti-religious. In my opinion, the cover art is a downgrade from their last full length. “The Harrowing of Hearts” features six original songs with the seventh being a cover of NEPHILIM's “Moonchild”. Of these, to me, the most memorable, if that's what you want to call it, is the sixth track entitled “The Great Seducer”.

In conclusion, “The Harrowing of Hearts” left me feeling mostly bored and uninterested after eight full listens. Finding something to latch onto qualified for praise or rebuke was more arduous than I anticipated. Nothing really to love or hate here. Poland is renowned for black metal royalty with the likes of MGLA, GRAVELAND, INFERNAL WAR, BESATT, KRIEGSMACHINE and many others among their ranks. I'd highly recommend saving your money by relegating this to the dustbin of creative history, and purchasing a record from one of their worthy contemporaries instead. I keep coming back to the same word circling around in my thoughts when listening to this LP... unremarkable.