This quick EP contains two new tracks from this German black metal act alongside a cover of Darkthrone's "Under a Funeral Moon". First up is "Bleakstar", which solidifies the fact that this band's brand of black metal is really quite midpaced (which is basically "slow" by black metal standards), taking somewhat of a "post-black metal" stance with its dissonant chord phrasings and atypical arrangements in how the drummer often works at his own pace around the guitar parts, which can be sort of cool. "Exhibitions in the Grey Zone" runs nearly seven minutes and also opens relatively slowly with some discordant chord bends and chunky picking patterns over a spoken passage before dropping back to a nice clean break with some colorful percussive flare. Later in the track the speed finally kicks into full gear for a short spurt around the four-minute mark with more impressive drum fills, but overall the atmosphere and force of the riffs in this track are much stronger than the opener. The recording's not bad. I think the vocals are too far out front, which can be distracting, but I can get used to everything else. The drums are a little overly rigid, as is common with black metal, and the guitars are sort of thin, but they do have that cold kind of dissonant bite going on, and that works really well in terms of clarity and overall crunch. I'd like to hear them turn the bass up significantly to add some density behind the guitars, but I like the guitar tone, so they're on the right track in terms of shooting for a cleaner and more polished sound as opposed to the classic aesthetic of raw black metal or what have you. Of course the Darkthrone cover is a faster and nastier attack, but it's cool to hear it given a tighter and more polished approach with this recording style (though ironically it's this track that really brings attention to some of the gaps in the mix as well as how loud the vocals are mixed). The disc comes in a nice looking digipack printed entirely in metallic silver and black with abstract visuals and lyrics included. As expected the lyrics don't really do much for me, but I must give the band credit for taking a more creative stance than most such artists: "Without a word of mourning they yearn for one more beam of light, This lavish grace of darkness is god before it dies..." This is a decent EP, there's just not enough substance to really get a feel for where the band's headed. The songwriting's not all that exciting either, so while I don't mind what I'm hearing, I'm also left feeling kind of like, "Okay, now what?" Know what I mean?
Running time - 35:02, Tracks: 3
[Notable tracks: Exhibitions in the Grey Zone]
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