Unholy Ascensions by Cemetery Winds

Release date: February 10, 2017
Label: Temple of Darkness Records

It’s not a rarity these days to find competent black/death metal bands, as the scene has been surging as of late. This is exciting, as bands attempt to merge the best of both distinct styles in a genre-bending fence-sitting amalgam that offers even more variety to the metal scene as of late. But, it’s difficult to believe some good black/death bands barely get the marketing funds needed to help get the word out, so it is with great pleasure that I introduce Finnish black/death metal band Cemetery Winds and their album Unholy Ascensions, a band and a release in desperate need of some buzz.

The cover art is classic death metal, but the band makes frequent use of tremolo riffs and shred grooves that conjure the best moments of lead-guitar-free Dissection, and shredding sections that recall old-school death metal valor and proficiency.

Cemetery Winds plays very catchy riffery replete with blast sections and slower grooves tempered by double-kick drums and 4/4 time signature battery, both of which are hallmarks of classic death metal songwriting technique. Also impressive is how the guitars sound clean and aptly-played on record. The instrumentation does not need the forgiving quality of digital production cleaning up any sloppiness. The band has rehearsed its material to degrees of excision that recount execution typical for musicians that handle their tasks with professionalism and passion. The songs don’t blur into one another indistinctively. Each has an identity, a killer hook or two, and features songwriting that will appeal to old-school death metal and old melodic black metal zealots.

The outro is a keyboard solo that adds an element of nostalgia for fans of dungeon synth, but is rather irrelevant to the bulk of great metal on-tap found before it. The rest of the album, seven songs worth, is cleanly performed and enjoyable for fans of the aforementioned styles most prevalent in the band’s sphere of influences. This is fun, and calculated without sounding contrived, and good for either an intent listen or a casual listening session while working on tedious tasks. In fact, Cemetery Winds made my boring routine a fun holiday venturing throughout Northern European darkness. The soundscapes inherent in Unholy Ascensions are steeped in tradition and vintage quality. If this sounds good to you, support a band that doesn’t denigrate metal by adding huge doses of exuberant avant-garde leanings and needless less-than-stellar experimentation that reeks of incompetence.

In spite of black/death metal being a fairly modern compendium of the scene that is drastically picking up the pace, some bands don’t do the same things other bands have explored and are known distinctly for in the process. Cemetery Winds gives tribute to classic metal vibe, that of old school death metal and melodic black metal, and don’t just down tune their guitars in the popular method of practicing this style. Unholy Ascensions is enjoyable and worth the time and effort to seek out a black/death metal album uncommon to the sub-genre, and if metal fans were worth their essential salts, they’ll stop listening to the same tired acts that fumble towards ecstasy in the attempt to re-capture the spirit that made their releases viable. The sign says, intelligent metallers need not apply. Newly-minted fans of Cemetery Winds know just why that is.

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