[Reviewed by: Iaha Crax]
The group is formed around a nucleus previously forged within the Belgian projects Gorath and Serpencult, playing metal for more 20 years now, an experience that is being taken to new heights on their new outfit, Hemelbestormer. The split Hemelbestormer had with Vanessa Van Basten on ConSouling Sounds introduced the band to the metal scene and made a great impression among its listeners. All of us, familiar with the name Hemelbestormer, were expecting a rewarding first album.
On the aforementioned split their style transmitted a particular approach to post-metal, references to sludge-and melodic doom that are continued on the first song from this album, entitled “After Us The Flood”. Besides the courage for adventurous techniques, which they share with their fellow colleagues from Debemur Morti Recordings, Year Of No Light, the Belgians are showing humility and authenticity and, again like the French metal project, they let the music speak for itself, renouncing the use of vocals. Hemelbestormer observe the environment with consoling eyes and write a deeply human music, levelling the stages of unease and inadaptability to the world against a background of a quest for reconciliation with nature.
Much of the lyrical content of Hemelbestormer is a resume of the spiritual loss of today’s humanity. When writing music in such grey-hued keys, the artistic process seems to be ignited by a universally unuttered voice, like the scream of thousands of souls that have suddenly managed to surpass their suppressed feelings and give a body to their desperation. “Starless” may very well sing of the total disintegration of all our inherited myths. The piece is gradually devitalizing and lifts up to the surface the brutal content of the relation with the above, the divine. The whole line of melody bears an enigmatic taste, it lets the mind wander with the help of the sludge rhythm through black and atmospheric metal, mesmerized by a clear-shaped sound.
Progressions in cadence like those performed by Hemelbestormer let us experience some beautiful resolutions. By subtle touches of the keys they remind us of the old gothic-metal bands, and their witty, harmonic juxtapositions recall atmospheric-doom structures that made the days of ancient forlorn metal souls. “The Purging” is such a multifaceted song, without a central musical focus, but an organic philosophical focal point irradiating unexpected tonic keys. Thus the magic of the piece is quite exponential, with dense dissonances and various style techniques, capturing a conjuring intertextual narration which should subjugate mind and soul alike.
The dark lyricism of Hemelbestormer’s journey on this lenticular catatonic album is strikingly relevant on the last piece, “On Desolate Plains”, with more than 20 worthy minutes of length. Perhaps the album’s triumph is in its tone; the elevation of mordant bleakness embodied in vast musical descriptions has rarely found this sort of artistic translation inside the metal scene. This final song gives the emotion beyond the horror of the image and the impotency of the verb; it’s an excitement of desolation.
“Aether” flows musically in a stream of gracious metal eloquence. Each listener will recognize a multitude of references, but the closest will be that hint at the hidden self we cherish so wrongly high in this deserted world. Hemelbestormer’s first record is a gateway drug for Parnassian nihilism.