The Ruins of Beverast
Blood Vaults - The Blazing Gospel Of Heinrich Kramer (Cryptae Sanguinum - Evangelium Flagrans Henrici Institoris)

Full disclosure: My history with the now decade-old, German, one-man, black/doom project known as The Ruins of Beverast extends back a whopping 5 months. Why I didn’t investigate something that’s right up my musical alley much earlier is another one of life’s many mysteries, but once the brilliant new track, “Malefica,” hit YouTube on April 12th, I realized it was time to dive in headfirst. So, in preparation for the new album, I absorbed all I could get my hands on from this project, and it’s a good thing I did. If I had not heard the doom influence become more and more prominent with each passing album, I would’ve assumed that I received the wrong promo.

Blood Vaults is the clearest, heaviest, slowest, most melancholy album that mastermind Alexander von Meilenwald has ever created, making it fall squarely within the realm of death/doom. Evoken, Disembowelment, and even a Bizarro World Virgin Black come to mind for comparison. I don’t mean to get hung up on genre tags, but continuing to refer to this act as black metal would be misleading at this point. Even the vocals are at their deepest, most resembling those of early Amorphis than anything remotely blackened. However, that’s not to say the project has lost its originality or became more straightforward in any way. This is a sprawling, meditative, slow burn of an album that demands many listens with headphones in a dark room to fully appreciate. At nearly an hour and twenty minutes in length, that isn’t always an easy task, but it’s a rewarding one.

As you probably have guessed from the subtitle, this is a concept album with lyrics from the twisted perspective of Heinrich Kramer, the fifteenth century German inquisitor and primary author of the infamous treatise on the prosecution of witches, the Malleus Maleficarum. Church organs and choir samples provide a sense of dark religious zeal befitting the theme. Even though the general tempo is plodding, the degree is varied and punctuated with waves of aggression. A big one of those waves comes early when second track, “Daemon,” hits like a tsunami of churning guitars and thundering drums after the calm but ominous intro, “Apologia.” Another is the steady high speed of the relatively brief, “Ordeal,” and almost every other track includes some bouts of controlled, grinding rage. Nevertheless, doom is truly the dominant force here. The guitars — more upfront and thicker than ever before — bear most of the burden as they strain out emotional chords and melodies that bring to mind early My Dying Bride and Anathema in tracks like the aforementioned “Malefica” and funereal closer “Monument.” And, if you still have any doubts about the true nature of this beast, they’ll certainly be squelched by the massive, droning riffs and slow-marching drums of “Spires, The Wailing City” and “A Failed Exorcism.” The atmospheric clean guitar and synthesized chanting layered over the much of the album only add to the aura of doomed misery, but Meilenwald’s memorable, chanted, clean vocals of the previous two albums are surprisingly minimal this time around. Other surprises await in the gloom, but I don’t want to completely spoil your own personal exploration of this massive recording.

In the liner notes of the Enchanted by Gravemould comp, Meilenwald referred to My Dying Bride’s “Symphonaire Infernus et Spera Empyrium” as “the ultimately malicious and sinister opera of the Deathdoom Genre.” It seems that his admiration has spilled over into emulation on Blood Vaults. Fans of his frostier side might find this disappointing, but if they give this a fair chance, they’ll realize that a black heart still lurks within; it’s just beating with heavier force.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Adam Palm
September 3rd, 2013

Comments

  1. Commented by: Iwein

    Yes yes yes! Awaiting my copy. The Ruins Of Beverast never disappointed me and it surely will not this time, seeing Meilenwald incorporated even more DOOM on Blood Vaults.


  2. Commented by: vugelnox

    Love this band. Love Truppensturm and Nagelfar too. Meilenwald is another Dan Swano in the making.


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