This is the only album I've ever heard that sounds like it should have been wrapped in a shroud. Relentlessly bleak and resoundingly brilliant, this project of Nagelfar (no, the other one*) drummer Alexander Von Meilenwald is the best ambient black metal album to come around since
.well, since the project's last album, Unlock the Shrine, with a couple of major differences. With Rain Upon the Impure, Von Meilenwald goes for even more of a deconstructionist kind of sound, with eighty minutes of music and an average track length of fifteen minutes, surrounded by a production that appears to covered in a sort of impermeable primordial ooze that, while it may not be appreciated by some - enhances the overall atmosphere immensely.
One-man black metal projects have become more popular in the last couple of years. Some good, some not so good, but this is one of the few that sound like a collective effort of legions as opposed to the solitary effort of one. Epic songs played out like the soundtrack to a Chaucer poem painted by Hieronymus Bosch. Almost all the lyrics composed for this album are of a caliber that ascends the hate prose and goth despair that tends to saturate the liner notes of the genre. Not that you have a chance in hell of actually understanding the words as you hear them. Although for a fun game try to read along with the album, which isn't easy - the dark-gold-and-silver-on-black text of the lyric sheet is virtually impossible to read but you look like a capable lad/lass. And there's resources on the web to find out what it says.
"50 Forts Along the Rhine", the album's leadoff track sets the pace for a massive Germanian battle. That's "Germany" for those of you who didn't see Gladiator. There's a historical quality to the lyrics that thankfully don't reek of the Aryan nationalism that can be found in our Norse or Germanic brethren's music - despite "Beverast" being an alternate usage of "Bifröst", the bridge between Valhalla and the mortal world that's destroyed in the apocalypse of the "Ragnarök." See? Not only do you have the pleasure of listening to the music, but you can learn stuff, too!
For those interested in dabbling, Rain Upon the Impure isn't the best album to cut your teeth on. This is more for those tired of the commercial aspects of black metal and the image and buffoonery that can so often be associated with it. With that said, despite the songs being performed otherwise, have an operatic quality that with different production techniques and arrangement tweaking could very well find itself on a Dimmu Borgir or Opeth album, though the comparisons would probably make Von Meilenwald shudder. Such comparisons are ultimately useless however, as this project was created as antidote to the bloated pomposity of metal music in general and though those out there who listen to heavy music on a regular basis might be loathe to admit it, they know full well that the time for change is now.
*Screw you, that joke kills in Oslo