Root – Black Seal

Root – Black Seal – 4.5/5

An artist that seems to have been forgotten, this is a band that has been of interest to me for the past couple of weeks, though not just because of the unusual style presented here, but because of the history behind it. Following in the wake of the early Black Metal bands (Venom, Bathory, etc) emerges this little known band from the Czech Republic. Before the explosion of the second wave in Norway, this band acted as something of an interim between the two styles, but what is perhaps most intriguing is how their specific style changed over the years, leading to (amongst others) this release.

Rather than follow suit with the Norwegian scene, with high use of treble, blast beats and tremolo, providing an ‘icy’ and raw aggressive feel, this band took their sound in precisely the opposite direction, resulting in an often Epic Heavy metal or Doom-like feel. The growls became deeper and cleaner, the riffs slower, often with a Heavy/Thrash tone, the bass became thicker and more doom like, and everything started feeling more grandiose in nature, yet despite this they have retained that ‘evil’ tone essential to Black Metal.

Retaining the use of tremolo picking, and at times managing to sound beautifully chaotic and demonic through their erratic use (particularly during solo’s), creating a contrast against the otherwise slow backing, and forming a major layer to draw interest. Behind this is creative drumming, not afraid to bring the cymbals crashing down when required, not provide a simple beat in the background, working with the rhythm guitars and bass to create an evil doom like atmosphere.

But once again, the vocals come shining through as a major reason for the quality of this release. Originally their harsh vocalist, he still remains present in the band, providing an immensely deep falsetto voice, with occasional use of his older growling style. This contribution results in the formation of a band not quite like any other I can think of. Unrelenting in its assault, it makes the black sound grandiose. If Epic Heavy/Doom with a dark, omniscient tone sounds interesting to you, this is not an album to be missed.

Highlights: The Festival of Destruction, Nativity, Salamandra