Review – Alghazanth: The Three-Faced Pilgrim

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Review – Alghazanth: The Three-Faced Pilgrim
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Alghazanth: The Three-Faced Pilgrim
Symphonic Black Metal
Inverse Records, Woodcut Records
December 13th, 2013
Release length: 46:07
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Finland’s Alghazanth is one of the countries best kept Black Metal secrets. The group formed back in 1995, over the years having members from many respectable acts in its ranks such as Funeris Noctunum, Swallow the Sun and Obscurant. The Symphonic Black Metal group’s debut album Thy Aeons Envenomed Sanity dropped back in 1999 through Woodcut Records, a smaller label in their home country that has played host to pretty much all the material that followed. Five more albums later, and we face what is being called their best effort yet, The Three-Faced Pilgrim. Is this the really the height of their Black Metal career, or is this far from as impressive as its made out to be?

If you never heard the band before, you can compare them as a mixture of Limbonic Art and Emperor with a hint of Dimmu Borgir, never treading into their over-the-top symphonic levels of the latter. This is obvious right away with “In Your Midnight Orchard.” The opening riffs show a hint of sharpened melody with immediately infectious hooks that are backed with simple, brooding keyboards and a catchy mid-tempo drum performance. The song picks up speed and the emotional toll only increases with the fantastic raspy vocals with a slight echo. Most of the bridges, and even some passages, are simply glorious, shifting into the memorable and enthusiastic chorus perfectly. The song’s only fault is that nearly everywhere but the main verses is prime for some female clean singing, which never happens.

If you ever heard The Puppet Master by King Diamond, you would understand how Livia Zita’s vocals would perfectly match the environment of not only “In Your Midnight Orchard,” but also “As It is Fated” among others. This one actually puts that first song of the release to shame. The rich melodies and subtle keyboard presence build a truly awe-inspiring emotional atmosphere that rarely ever lacks other than not taking advantage of the opportunity to include naturally fitting female singing. Thankfully some guitar chords, especially the beautiful solo, and even some of the symphonic elements do offer a good substitute, but it only makes you yearn for them to be included even more by the end.

“Promethean Permutation” lets in some Dimmu Borgir similarities other than the distorted rougher vocals that briefly hit in “In Your Midnight Orchard.” This is thanks to the large chunks of slower material that accentuates the symphonics. But, overall, this ends up more like an early second wave Black Metal offering with a slight chill in the air. Similar to “To the Pearl of High,” the faster passages do present a venomous hatred to the mix, but these areas are very few and far between, relying on the effective spirit crushing verses that are just shy of having the desired impact. Finally there’s “With Sickle, with Scythe,” which takes everything you already experienced and slaps it together for a ten minute plus performance that tries to be a grand and poetic opus, but does fall short. The enthusiasm is definitely subtle here, giving some glorious riffs, and even a hint of aggression that seems to slow to a naturally melancholic atmosphere the further in you get.

The Three-Faced Pilgrim is not just a fine example of the genre, but without a doubt is also one of the best albums to come out of 2013. The rich audio captures the pure emotion of the songs perfectly, all without forsaking the cold, melancholic touch of the group’s earlier roots, and even the fostbitten foundation of the genre back in the days of Immortal and Darkthrone. The Three-Faced Pilgrim is a stunningly epic, poetic, and at times somewhat crushing masterpiece fans of the style absolutely must hear. Alghazanth are clearly at the height of their creative output, and if you have yet to experience them then now is definitely the time to add another name to your list of favorites bands.


01. In Your Midnight Orchard – 9:19
02. To the Pearl of High – 7:10
03. Promethean Permutation – 6:54
04. AdraMelekTaus – 6:16
05. As it is Fated – 6:17
06. With Sickle, with Scythe – 10:11
Initial Pressing Score: 9.5/10

Alghazanth
Alghazanth

Digital review copy of this release provided by Inverse Records.