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The Ruins of Beverast - "Foulest Semen Of A Sheltered Elite" (CD)

The Ruins of Beverast - "Foulest Semen Of A Sheltered Elite" CD cover image

"Foulest Semen Of A Sheltered Elite" track listing:

1. I Raised This Stone As A Ghastly Memorial (10:32)
2. Alu (:51)
3. God's Ensanguined Bestiaries (8:33)
4. Mount Sinai Moloch (12:28)
5. Transcending Saturnine Iericho Skies (:47)
6. Kain's Countenance Fell (8:38)
7. The Restless Mills (12:10)
8. Theriak - Baal - Theriak (1:22)
9. Blood Vaults (II - Our Despots Cleanse The Levant) (9:19)
10. Arcane Pharmakon Messiah (15:15)

Reviewed by on June 17, 2010

"It seems that every time black metal has reached its creative limit, an album like 'Foulest Semen Of A Sheltered Elite' comes along to show that this is far from the case."

The phrase “one-man band” in black metal can be constituted as a death sentence for any chance of legitimacy. That phrase transforms the mind to images of a lonely man in an enclosed space devoid of light, using a cheap tape recorder and slapping some Casio keyboards on the bad boy for “atmospheric” effects. That’s the general consensus, but like anything else in life, there are exceptions to the rule. The Ruins of Beverast is the gleaming speck in a land largely populated by terrible production, awful vocal effects, and songwriting that sounds like lukewarm Emperor and Immortal.

The brainchild of Alexander von Meilenwald, the former drummer of Nagelfar, The Ruins of Beverast has been riding a rip tide of momentum since their 2004 debut “Unlock The Shrine.” Meilenwald can seemingly do no wrong and “Foulest Semen Of A Sheltered Elite” will do little to change that perspective. Ten tracks and 80 minutes later, the listener is left mentally shaken by the grim spectacle laid before them. The album can become unbearable at times, but the will to keep moving forward comes from how gripping the music is.

One look at the track listing is all that is needed to describe just how epic “Foulest Semen Of A Sheltered Elite” is. Meilenwald loves fleshing out songs, exploring various tempos across the span of one song. This isn’t just furious black metal with extended passages of ambient keyboard nonsense; every track has structure and coherence on its side. “I Raised This Stone As A Ghastly Memorial” starts out nonchalantly with clean chanting and a controlled pace before going through movements of soaring guitars and painful rasps akin to a stab wound covered in fire ants.

A track like this is usually paired up with a pummeling tremolo-picked delight. In this case, it’s the astonishing “God's Ensanguined Bestiaries.” The opening riff is stunning in its execution and one of the best riffs that black metal has churned out this year. Even among the mayhem, there is a break stuffed with strong clean vocals and moody lead guitar work. There isn’t one straightforward track on here; for example, the explosive start to “Blood Vaults (II - Our Despots Cleanse the Levant)” evolves into a majestic battle hymn that will have the devoted raising their fists in compliance.

Meilenwald does a damn fine job handling all the instrumental and vocal work. While he was mainly a drummer and keyboardist in his former project, Meilenwald has turned out to be an accomplished vocalist and guitarist. With the former, his variations between the raspy howls, deep growls, and somber clean tone build upon each other in an effective manner. The latter is understated in-between all the layers of noise, but a few shred-tastic solos pop up to melt some skulls. His lyrics are gloomy and stark in description, which only adds darkness to the atmosphere. A special mention has to be made to the title of the album, which is highly inventive and completely bad-ass.

It seems that every time black metal has reached its creative limit, an album like “Foulest Semen Of A Sheltered Elite” comes along to show that this is far from the case. This review has barely graced the surface of the surprises and unexpected turns that await the listener. There have been stellar releases in black metal this year from Ihsahn and Watain, as well as many others, but “Foulest Semen Of A Sheltered Elite” stands out. An easy shoe-in for this reviewer’s “Top 10” list at the end of the year, The Ruins of Beverast has released another winner that redefines what a “one-man band” can achieve.

Highs: Surprises around every turn, strong production, doesn't stick to conventional black metal traits, awesome riff on “God's Ensanguined Bestiaries.”

Lows: The interludes don't add much to the proceedings, but that is a small fault.

Bottom line: Another classic black metal album from The Ruins of Beverast that shows the creative genius of founder Alexander von Meilenwald.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)