Eastern Front - Blood on Snow
Black Metal
8 songs (49:12)
Release year: 2010
Official Myspace, Candlelight
Reviewed by Charles
British black metal is a bit like British tennis. The whole wheeze was our idea (let’s hope there aren’t any French people reading) but ever since we’ve been living off the kudos while Johnny Foreigner has repeatedly beaten us at it. We’ve had to make do with sporadic, but much loved, lone exceptions to cheer on. I hesitate to say for Anaal Nathrakh read Tim Henman, but that seems to be the path down which the analogy has led us, so maybe that’s our cue to stop talking about racket sports. Perhaps this sense of wounded national pride explains in part the fierceness with which up-and-coming British acts like Winterfylleth and Wodensthrone emphasise heritage in their music, though quite how one does this on any level deeper than talking about trees and stone circles a lot in your lyrics remains a puzzle to me. Both those bands are on Candlelight, and this promising duet of UK black metal acts on the roster has become a trio with the release of Eastern Front’s Blood on Snow.

That said, the band seem bent on distinguishing themselves from those acts, concentrating thematically almost exclusively not on ancient gods and forest nymphs (er, or something) but on World War Two (no idea which specific element of it, mind). This fight for a distinct identity extends to assigning themselves a brand new micro-genre, “war torn black metal”. Unfortunately, at this stage in their development the invention doesn’t stretch to the music itself, which is a fairly standard black metal plod that doesn’t generate the same depth or atmosphere as their label mates and compatriots mentioned above. The sound is rather clean (for black metal) and as such lacking in bite or character, and it seems generally content to power blast away in well-worn style, closer to something rather more generic like Dark Funeral. One of the first things I notice is that the drums are extremely loud, thrust forward in the mix in front of everything else as if they could provide a warzone intensity by mimicking the rattle of 1940s machine guns. I mean, that’s a good idea but they lack that upper level of speed and intensity to do so. Instead, the closest we really get to a really evocative percussive nod to the period is the brief militaristic drum rolls in Battle of Smolensk.

The band do make an effort to get creative; when you actually follow the songs closely they can sometimes reveal complex structures which change rapidly between ideas. The opening tune Stalinorgel, for example, draws on strong chugging death metal influences. But very rarely are these ideas especially memorable, or especially inventive, and they don’t really lend much diversity. Quasi-symphonic interludes like Movsky sound a little too synthesised to really impose an atmosphere on the album. The best moment is probably the genuinely eerie string introduction to the epic closer, Where Warriors Once Fell, a brooding slow-burner marred by some slightly hammy narration. It would seem too harsh to say that this is a bad album, it’s just very generic. If you want to find a band to lift British black metal in 2010, look to The Mercian Sphere, because The Eastern Front is bogged down and short on firepower.

Killing Songs :
Where Warriors Once Fell
Charles quoted 58 / 100
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