Review – Weeping Birth: The Crushed Harmony

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  • Bio: "Weeping Birth is an extreme metal entity originating from Switzerland and lead by only one man: Vladimir. " - Facebook
  • Label: Apathia Records
  • Release Date: November 16th, 2015
  • Genre: Black Metal, Death Metal
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

Even though Weeping Birth has been in existence since 1999, chance are high anyone outside of the one-man project’s home country of Switzerland has probably not heard of the project despite a number of releases since inception. The solo entity of Vladimir Cochet unleashed two demos prior to the 2003 debut full-length A Painting of Raven and Rape, an expansion of the second demo of the same name two years prior. In 2008, the follow-up effort Anosognnosic Industry of the I had finally dropped through Conatus Records, collecting a number of songs that were recorded between 2001 and 2004. After a sizeable amount of studio silence once more, Weeping Birth returns with the third studio album, The Crushed Harmony, this time being handled by Apathia Records. But does this new offering prove the time between efforts was beneficial in the long run, or is this one far from anything all that engaging?

While previous Weeping Birth efforts have all come off somewhat rough around the edges, catering to more of an analog output that worked with the black metal presence, The Crushed Harmony stands as a more vibrant sounding release. No, not in atmosphere, as that is still as dismal, if not far more crushing in comparison, but rather in clarity. This crisp sounding effort meshes loud, thick bass chords with blunt sounding guitars and cleaner lead hooks, commanding gutturals with layered rasps here and there, not to mention a pristine drum kit that fills up the gaps with punishing results. The Crushed Harmony also stands as a far more technical offering, only allowing the music to become a bit weaker due to the complex nature of the chords once in a great while, such as towards the end of the blistering “Meant to Be Wrecked”, a commanding performance with traces of Dimmu Borgir throughout more so than that of technicality or high-speed aggression.

“A Surface” has plenty of melancholic moments, as well as a number of segments with solid blast beats from the drum kit that match the tenacity of Hour of Penance, even down to the blackened hooks. However, there are some doom metal traits in the way the music slows down as though trudging in the snow-capped plateaus, amplifying a sensation of isolation and hopelessness that the random off-kilter hooks throw your way, putting you on edge for brief periods of time. But then there’s “Life in a Blood Spasm”, which wastes little time in exploding forward with furious drum patterns and riffs that are as creepy as they are glorious. In a way, it’s a lot like “Atonality”, easily one of the most violent sounding tracks of the release, punishing the listener until what sounds like a subtle slam at the end, concluding with a Vital Remains-esque guitar solo.

“Sumburst”, however, stands out as an oddball due in part to the short, tight guitar chords being played in some spots, such as the introduction. The abrupt cutting off of the notes makes it sound more like some kind of djent Meshuggah inspired offering, though this sound is often incredibly brief, giving way to the blackened death metal material, cold doomish passage about half way through, and glorious neo-classical solos for the majority of the performance. While it’s not the best the album has to offer, the less intricate overall sound does leave something a little more catchy than bludgeoning or despair-ridden, offering a nice little change of pace.

Weeping Birth

One other thing that Weeping Birth manages to get right on this one is the often seamless transition between tracks. While each song isn’t necessarily linked, the very brief moments of silence between songs, not to mention how each one feels more like a natural progression forward from how the previous ended, sometimes makes it seem as though you are listening to one long performance, and not just a few short tracks back-to-back. “A Surface” and “Resurrection of Resentment” are two perfect examples. Due to the way the song changes things up in the former, it doesn’t even feel like you shift into the latter outside just enough to keep it a unique experience in comparison. Even the jump into “Sunburnt” feels like a natural continuation, though the somewhat more mechanical distortion and blackened neo-classical style riffs do separate it a little more, presenting it as the start of a new chapter within The Crushed Harmony itself.

Really, the best way to look at The Crushed Harmony is if you take modern Behemoth or Dimmu Borgir melodies and cross it with overly technical or brutal death metal bands like Hour of Penance or Fleshgod Apocalypse sans orchestral elements, thus leaving behind the perfect mixture of death and decay within the chilled autumnal winds that make up much of the moody performances captured on this release. Weeping Birth‘s track record may be small, but it’s one surrounded by quality. Despite the changes to a far more crisp sounding production, The Crushed Harmony captures everything that makes Weeping Birth one of the most criminally overlooked solo projects in the death metal community. If you want a technical thrashing on par with repeatedly being kicked in the teeth and left behind to rot, then this long overdue follow-up is something you simply must hear.

Weeping Birth

Digital review copy of this release provided by Apathia Records.