Sunday, October 11, 2015

Orlok - Black Funeral Holocaust (2013)

Released in mid-October 2013, Black Funeral Holocaust is the debut full-length from Orlok. This is raw Finnish Black Metal with a strong influence from the LLN, especially Black Murder and Mütiilation. This solo project is yet another from Graf Werwolf, of Satanic Warmaster, and may edge out Opferblut to rank as the best thing he has ever recorded. In fact, it is near the top of a very short list of albums from recent years that are even worth listening to. 

Black Funeral Holocaust consists of seven tracks, three of which are sombre instrumental pieces that are well-placed to add an aura of horror and despair. The remaining four songs still manage to clock in at nearly half an hour, each working well to drag the listener deeper into the abyss. From the opening moments of the title track, one is taken back two decades, to a time when Black Metal possessed a more genuine feeling. The production is lo-fi, but still allows for all of the mournful riffs to be discerned, resting just above the Mütiilation demos in terms of quality. Speaking of that unholy cult, traces of Meyhna'ch's influence can be heard throughout the album's entirety, including some rather claustrophobic palm-muted riffs that are very reminiscent of Rites through the Twilight of Hell. The bulk of this L.P. is made up of very bleak and dreary tremolo riffs with fast-paced drumming that is hardly perceptible. The decision to bury the drums deep into the damp soil and to allow the guitars to be the dominant instrument was a wise one. As such, the hypnotic guitar melodies are better able to lure the listener away from reality for a while and into a nightmare of torn flesh, blood-stained crypts and a black hopelessness that rarely ever adequately conveyed through Black Metal, these days. The vocals stray a bit from what some may be used to, as Werwolf utilizes a less-refined and more savage approach, almost sounding as if he was half-rotted and recently risen from the grave. Throughout the record, there are instances of multi-tracked vocals that hearken back to the old Vlad Tepes demos, yet here it serves to give the effect of a chorus of hellish demons. The songwriting is varied enough that each track is able to stand on its own, yet the effect is still best when listened to in full. The melancholic vibe that permeates this album comes off as more of something that is being inflicted upon the listener, rather than as expression of the artist. In that sense, there is something more sinister about this. 

If you worship the likes of Feasts, from Black Murder or Mütiilation's demo material, you should definitely give this a listen. Of course, Werwolf cannot be accused of doing anything magnificently original with Orlok; his influences bleed through in an obvious manner, especially the cold, Transilvanian Hunger-inspired bits in "Black Hearts Symphony" or the overt nod to Mayhem's "Freezing Moon" found on "Mysticism Corpus Satanae". Yet the brilliance of Black Funeral Holocaust is the manner in which all of these elements are put together to create a cohesive and meaningful whole. This is highly recommended.