Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Warloghe - The First Possession (1999)

The First Possession is the debut full-length from Finland's Warloghe. After releasing a demo and an E.P. the band managed to get into contact with Drakkar Productions, who released this album in 1999. It is rather appropriate, since their music seems to have a lot on common with the French Black Legions, at times.

The songwriting for this album is not terribly consistent. Rather than expanding upon the more grim and mournful sounds of The Black Tower or Unlighted, and following the path of the LLN bands that so inspired them, they opted for a safer and more generic approach. It starts out with a couple of unremarkable tracks, but they soon redeem themselves. "Witchcraft and Blood" is exactly what one would expect from Warloghe, though there seems to be a strong Darkthrone influence that was not present before, mixed in with riffs that sound reminiscent of Vlad Tepes. This is followed by "Tower of Flies", which is more mid-paced and possesses a morbid feeling. The vocals come through a lot better and help to create a dark and miserable atmosphere. Unfortunately, the band fails to build on the momentum. After another disappointing song, "Desecration" and "Angelreaper" at least show a bit of promise. Both are fast-paced tracks that rely on the standard high-speed drums and tremolo riffs, though the guitars are not as audible as they should be. By the time "The End of All Life" begins, the Darkthrone influence has completely taken over, sounding like something from Under A Funeral Moon. Still, one must also keep in mind that 1999 was a rotten time for Black Metal, so any band that was keeping a pure and raw sound was very much needed, even if the compositions lack originality.

The production is a bit of a detriment, as it seems the band recorded these songs in different sessions. Some of the songs are alright, but others are plagued with problems. The drums are a bit too loud, which would not be such a bad thing, except for the hollow sound that becomes very distracting and annoying. The vocals are too low, on several, reducing the grim effect that they added on the earlier releases. The guitars are just kind of in the middle, accomplishing very little. This album would have benefited from a different mix, placing more emphasis on the guitars and vocals.

Warloghe's debut album is not as good as it could have been. Some of the songs seem underdeveloped and include ideas that do not mesh well with the rest. The arrangement of the record is poor, also, starting out with two of the weaker tracks. Nonetheless, the bulk of the material delivers grim, old school Black Metal that does well to live up to the potential shown on the previous releases. During a time when many bands were experimenting with various outside influences and others were going toward a total synth route, The First Possession was a refreshing dose of uncompromising darkness that held true to those that came before.