Eastern Front: Blood on Snow

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Eastern Front: Blood on Snow
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Eastern Front: Blood on Snow
Black Metal
Candlelight Records
January 25th. 2011
Release length: 49:12
Myspace
War. It’s safe to assume that, in today’s day and age, it’s a topic many bands will eventually flock to. Whatever reason it may be, whether from previous bands like Bolt Thrower influencing artists by combining the two most common sense concepts of Metal and War together, or the more popular success of war-based video games through such titles as Call of Duty can easily be argued amongst the bands who compose these conceptual albums, and the fans of these efforts. However, one thing is for sure: It’s not going away any time soon. Eastern Front is new Black Metal band on the scene that warmly embraces this now becoming standard lyrical practice for their debut release, Blood On Snow, bringing as much intensity and somber passages to the mix to create a spectacular atmosphere for such a strong release.

Blood On Snow finds Eastern Front utilizing various approaches to Black Metal throughout the recording, but for the most part it is simply straight forward Black Metal, a style that seems to be lost in today’s age. More over, the album has a fantastic production quality to it, being surprisingly clear and modern, but utilizing the perfect amount of distortion on the guitars, and hammering drums with just enough variances to keep them from being just a typical blast beat throughout each track, though the constant double bass almost never strays and becomes a constant reminder of the perseverence of the soldiers this conceptual piece regards. Of course, outside the intensity of the music, the atmosphere is generally set up through some various audio clips of war-like sounds, such as gun fire, or even explosions, which make for some new additional elements to the recording, though some, like the explosion during the start of the title track, “Blood On Snow”, sounds a little cheesy and more robotic then natural.

For the most part, the album is solid Black Metal that goes at a pace a little slower then a machine gun’s pace, but it does still feel like that. “Stalingrad” and “Battle of Smolensk” add some keyboards to the tracks, as well as a marching drum for the second of those tracks, which all play up the war factor and the somber realization/coming to terms of the battle ahead. It paints the picture perfectly inside the bedlam that the music showcases. The title track itself feels a little drawn out, and eventually starts to feel like it has overstayed it’s welcome, as it doesn’t necessarily offer much to keep the listener’s attention. From here, the album does offer much else in the line of variety, but still manages to craft some furious and intense music that will appeal to my Black Metal fans, especially those who can often pick up on the additional elements such as the somber melodies given to the song “Motherland”.

Of course, the drumming on this effort is what winds up holding it back at times. While the just-shy-of machine gun-like pace they are played at works out very well, there’s often only a slight change in the pattern fo the drums, and the double bass kicks remain the same, even if the rest of the drumming, or the music itself speeds up or slows down. Sometimes, the double bass kicks will ultimately come off more robotic then human, and give a much simpler feel to a far more complex album then they should be performed with. This isn’t say they are horrible, or even bad at all, but a little extra work with the double bass kicks would have worked out well for this release, maybe doing more then a simple robotic “one, two, repeat” pace. When the music shifts into a moving piece, such as “Dvenadtzet Kilometrov of Moskvy”, it really does take an epic step, setting up the rest of the release nicely, and reaffirming that the atmosphere is in the middle of a terrible war, and with this track, you know you’re about to enter the brunt of the gates of Hell that welcome you with gun fire, explosions, and launching of missiles for a good chunk of time, but just long enough to stress the concept of the release nicely.

And that’s basically what you get for the closing of this release: Hell in the form of a musical interpretation of a battle field. The guitars do well to create a dismal atmosphere to the songs, and though the double bass kicks essentially follow the same robotic pattern, “At the gates of Moscow” does change things up a bit, and even has a strong focus on some two-stepping, which sounds superb before hammering back into the machinegun-like kicks. The tracks may not have the same intensity or speed, but they offer a little more as far as diversity goes in the music, and are a much darker tone then the rest of the songs. Of course, the Hell of war is a sensation that sticks more to “At the Gates of Moscow”, as the closing track, “Where Warriors Once Fell”, in a sorrow filled track that paints a picture of the battle field after the war, the feeling of isolation and solidarity, as if you are standing on the battle field and staring out at the bloodshed on the field, and the piles of corpses, your friends and allies that had fallen amongst the remains of those you pursued to kill for your country: The grim realities of a war so epic as the one described in this album, both lyrically and musically.

It’s an emotional tale told through music, and Eastern Front does a superb job and setting the proper atmospheres for the proper moments. While Blood On Snow isn’t the strongest Black Metal war-themed effort out there, sometimes feeling tracks overstay their welcome, and the bass kicks can become a little more robotic then natural, but it’s an effort that shows great promise from the group, and still features enough solid material that will hold your attention for a good while. Though the trend of writing about war-themes, typically about the same ones or around the same period, this is something that simply will not go away and is growing larger with each newly inspired band. Hopefully, more bands can take from the ideas laid out in Blood On Snow and this influx will be something great, as well as that this band will learn from their shortcomings and weave a tale of war and pride that far surpasses what they attempt on this recording.

01. Stalinorgel – 4:47
02. Battle of Smolensk – 5:11
03. Blood On Snow – 8:29
04. Unleash the Panzer Division – 4:08
05. Motherland – 6:45
06. Ovenadtzat Kilometrov of Moskvy – 3:38
07. At the Gates of Moscow – 6:58
08. Where Warriors Once Fell – 9:16
Initial Pressing Score: 7.5/10

Eastern Front (band)
Eastern Front

Digital review copy of this release provided by Candlelight Records.