It can often feel like we’re drowning in more ways than one in the modern world of black metal. Names popping up all over the place, quality from decades ago still coming about to keep their claim to glory, oversaturation in multiple styles, fervor to keep things old school from some while others crave innovation; it’s not hard to feel overwhelmed. For me, though, I can’t help but feel that black metal is one of the most exciting scenes in metal by far given the wide breadth and scope of its sound with just as many bands seeking to discover new territories as there are those perfecting what’s already been conquered many times over. It’s hard to make your presence known in many capacities when you’re a burgeoning name, but some manage to make it work almost too easy. Having only put out their first piece of material last year, Belarus’s Ciemra is already poised to do great things.
Too often, bands can be lured into trying something too big for them to be able to execute in any reasonable fashion. It’s always admirable to shoot for the stars and try to craft a body of work that’s downright compelling to all who listen unable to resist your immense power. More often than not, a straightforward approach can be far more potent with it still giving the right band enough breadth and potential to really make something to astonish. I didn’t have much of an idea as to what to expect going into the first full-length from Ciemra, but given what they brought to the table in last year’s EP, the sheer quality of “The Tread of Darkness” was not a completely blindsiding surprise to me, but to see how quickly the act has evolved in such a short time is downright staggering by all accounts. Nine tracks of uncompromising modern black metal that never once skimps on its riffs nor denies the listener of classic values of the genre, “The Tread of Darkness” is a simple yet deadly arrow of pure darkness straight to the very soul of the listener that never once misses its mark. Not a single moment of the record passes where the intense melodic factor of this album isn’t brought to full effect without taking over the album completely as Ciemra knows all too well to leave room for unmitigated chaos with their particular brand of black metal able to fold seamlessly into each other such that it makes for an organic experience that is as true to the style as it is true to the very ideals of Ciemra itself. No stylistic boundaries are pushed with this album, but it doesn’t have to in order for Ciemra to absolutely dominate with this performance.
A new name in the underground that shows immense promise is not an uncommon thing in the world of black metal anymore given you’re looking in the right places, but talent such as what we’re given here with Ciemra is a signifier of a something of a different caliber altogether. All that goes into “The Tread of Darkness” is what magnificent albums are made of down to their very core, and it would callous of me to insinuate that this record is anything short of both a massive victory as well as a significant step forward for Ciemra.
“The Tread of Darkness” releases on February 25th via Avantgarde Music!
LISTEN to an advanced track from “The Tread of Darkness” on Bandcamp here, or via YouTube below.
LIKE Ciemra on Facebook here.