Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ceremonial Castings - Immortal Black Art

Ceremonial Castings is probably my favorite black metal band ever right behind Xasthur and Darkthrone. I’ve been listening to them since they released their 2008 album and my friend dragged me to one of their concerts later that year when I was 15. Ever since watching their absolutely exemplifying performance and collecting all of their records, I’ve wondered day after day why these guys aren’t touring worldwide and aren’t having bands like Keep of Kalessin and Belphegor open for them. When I saw them, all of the opening acts were black metal unknowns that I can’t even remember today (I can name them off if I look at the tour poster in my room). But enough about me blah-blah-blahing about the band, this is my favorite album by them, Immortal Black Art.

The production quality on this album is actually very poor, but not nearly as bad as the two albums that came after this. But because this is black metal, the crappy production quality doesn’t even slightly obstruct my ability to enjoy this album. They’ve been (for some reason) listed as black death in some places, although that’s possibly somewhat true because the vocalist uses DEEP growls in several places, especially in their two most recent albums. So for those of you that are bothered by black metal with bad production quality, GET OVER IT.

There are only a handful of other black metal bands that I know of that are faster than Ceremonial Castings, and those bands are Dark Funeral, Keep of Kalessin, and Gorgoroth. That’s probably one of their most memorable characteristics, their unstoppable bombarding speed. Hopefully you aren’t someone that doesn’t enjoy the song Transylvanian Hunger by Darkthrone. But if you happen to be one of those people, the ninth track off this record consists of a cover of that song…but ten times faster. The two albums that were released after Immortal Black Art when into an almost completely experimental direction; much, much different from this album and the ones before it, so if you want one with more of a traditional, sped-up black metal sound without all of the experimental droning elements, this is what you want. Of course, not all of the songs have speeds that mow you down; there’s plenty of slower material. But the overall sound of this album is virtually barbaric and unrelenting fury.

I have a hard time hearing the bassist when listening to this record on my Zune (Microsoft’s version of the Ipod). But when I play this record on my computer and turn up the bass, I can hear a whole new colorful sound spectrum that was previously hidden under the dust. The vocalist’s black metal screams are some of the best I’ve ever heard and have always left me envious after listening to his voice.

As far as individual tracks go, Come Forth…Damnation has always been my favorite. This was the first song I heard by them and the song they opened with when I saw them. This track has a perfect blend of barbaric speed, extremely atmospheric and melodic keyboard layers, and tranquilizing black metal elements. In several parts during the song, the tempo goes down dramatically only to whip you back up high into the air. The title track is also one that I’ve always enjoyed. This is probably one of their first TRULY experimental tracks that reflect their more recent material. Immortal Black Art also breaks down the elements of black metal and experimental metal, modifies and transforms them, and puts them back together to produce an eight-minute song of beauty.

The last thing that I’d like to say is that this album cover is one of the best I’ve ever seen in my life. I know that “you shouldn’t judge it by it’s cover”, but come on, there’s some pretty awesome artwork out there in the metal world! And the cover for Immortal Black Art has always been one of my favorites. This is one of my favorite black metal albums EVER and I would recommend it to EVERYONE, even if they aren’t into extreme metal because I’m happy as long as people know who they are and have at least heard their music. This is one of the most underappreciated AMAZING metal bands and I can’t see how that’s possible. I would give this record a perfect score.

If you want a better look at the album cover, click here: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-AqYHdZ78bL8/Taov5g4cupI/AAAAAAAAAnA/RKto2GXO144/s1600/ceremonialcastings.immortal.jpg