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Lake Of Blood - "Heed The Primal Calling" (CD/EP)

Lake Of Blood - "Heed The Primal Calling" CD/EP cover image

"Heed The Primal Calling" track listing:

1. Nameless I Arise (6:11)
2. Heed the Primal Calling (3:49)
3. The Darkest Path (4:52)
4. Lake of Blood (6:03)

Reviewed by on March 28, 2009

"'Heed The Primal Calling' falls firmly on the more brutal side of the black metal scale, with only minimal nods to the symphonic meanderings that dominate the sound of many other bands."

The southern California quintet Lake Of Blood have made a bleak and raw debut with “Heed The Primal Calling” that is almost claustrophobic in how well it creates an aura of extreme isolation and darkness. For a first effort there are enough interesting sounds in the four tracks to attract black metal aficionados and convince them to explore the EP multiple times in case something was missed underneath the buzzing tones and shadowy compositions. Metal fans with only a passing interest in the blacker side of the genre will probably be put off by the many issues that inevitably arise from an underground band’s initial release, however.

“Heed The Primal Calling” falls firmly on the more brutal side of the black metal scale, with only minimal nods to the symphonic meanderings that dominate the sound of many other bands. There are occasional fleeting acoustic interludes but they are all quickly swallowed up by the immense guitar tones to continue cutting a swath of massive destruction. The brutality is accented by the low end production that calls to mind the earlier bands in the style from countries like Norway. The intended audience for these songs probably won’t be bothered all that much by the production values, but they do create a few notable dissonances that can drag the music down.

The drums are the most notable victim of the production, as in some places they are the loudest instrument but in others they get dropped down into the mix until they are a barely audible hum in the background. An opportunity to create a unique sound also gets shot down in “The Darkest Path” when the drums stop for a moment and the dual guitars start grinding out a dizzying cyclical melody. With a little more power provided by a clearer tone the riff would have had a much bigger impact than the dirty meat grinder feel it currently gives off. Then again, that may have been the exact sound that Lake of Blood wanted to make.

In some instances the shoddy production actually works in the band’s favor, such as in the area of the vocals. The vocalist’s bloody and ear piercing growl sounds like it was actively painful to produce, which fits the tone of the music exceedingly well. The way the vocals are mixed into the music gives off an echo like the singer is trapped in a small room somewhere, cut off from the rest of the world. The echoing would have been off-putting elsewhere but, considering the lyrical emphasis on escaping civilization and wandering alone in the wilderness, here it is actually a nice match for the music. The final track, “Lake of Blood,” also gets a boost from the buzzing tone as it creates a thick wall around the listener that doesn’t allow any escape from the devastating brutality attacking from all angles at once.

Lake of Blood has got quite a long way to go before striking real black metal perfection, or even attracting the fans of other genres, but they show enough promise in “Heed the Primal Calling” to warrant a few listens and create an expectation of a great first full-length album.

Highs: Creates an intense feeling of isolation and darkness, some interesting guitar tones

Lows: The instruments get lost in the bad production, some of the sounds have been heard many times before

Bottom line: A claustrophobic and brutal EP that will appeal to serious black metal fans, but can probably be passed up by anyone else

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 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)