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Your Ruin... (2001)

By 2001, it was more or less safe to assume that Les Légions Noires was nonexistent. Bands such as Vlad Tepes and Belketre were no more, while Mütiilation had transformed into something hardly recognizable. Most of the projects ceased by 1996-97, doomed to languish in the shadows of obscurity. However, the Black Lord Beleth'Rim, of Torgeist, resurfaced after about five years of silence, with a new project. Vermeth's debut album, Your Ruin..., was the result of this, released in December 2001 on Drakkar Productions.

Amazingly, this picks right up from where most of the Black Legions bands left off, in the mid-'90s. From the songwriting to the production, the passage of time is completely unnoticeable. The main difference is that the sound is on the clearer side, though still within the boundaries set forth by the classic releases from the scene. The guitar still retains the same jagged edge that characterized so many of the demos from the likes of Torgeist and Belketre. The vocals are prominent enough in the mix to be heard, without going over the top and dominating the sound. The drumming sounds fake, to be honest, but it is not as overtly obvious as on the later Mütiilation albums. Really, this impression comes less from the actual sound and more from the unnatural precision. The overall sound is very hideous and certainly brought a smile to my face, upon first listen, as I had long hoped to run across some overlooked gem from the LLN scene, never thinking to check out something from several years later and encounter music such as this.

Speaking of the songwriting, this shows absolutely no modern influences. Each riff seems as if it could have been taken from recordings such as March to the Black Holocaust, Time of Sabbath, or Remains of a Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul. The bulk of the material consists of raw black metal with a strong tendency toward morbid gloom and utter hatred. Of the six actual songs found here, there is no lack of dismal tremolo melodies, horrifying screams and the typical palm-muted riffs that were so common in past years. Each song is easily identifiable and separate from the others. The only weak point may be that so much of the music possesses a familiar feeling; however, even if this was to be considered total rehash, at least it would be more audible than the originals. Nonetheless, it is better to think of this as a continuation of the LLN sound, more than anything else. There is something draining about this, as the listener is overwhelmed by a sense of hopelessness and misery that seeps into the veins like poison. Still, it would be wrong to call this overly depressive, as there is an equal amount of bitter hatred that spews forth.

In the end, Vermeth offers nothing new with Your Ruin..., and much of this may still be inferior to the old LLN material, but listeners are provided with a somewhat clearer representation of this style. Everything here is quite solid, as evidenced by tracks like "Let Blood Flow", with no traces of more recent trends. While it does not quite match up to the likes of old Mütiilation or Black Murder, this should still appeal to fans of the Black Legions. Black Lord Beleth'Rim did well with this record, giving birth to another hideous abomination of raw black metal. Seek this out.
(18 March 2012)

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