Tis the season… for Black Metal! To celebrate, Ghost Cult runs the rule over several of this Winter’s coldest releases… Continue reading
The Ghost Cult album round-up is back in town, for your vulgar delectation… Continue reading
You know how it feels when you just can’t decide what to listen to? You cycle through ten albums in as many minutes, hearing bits and pieces of everything but not feeling entirely satisfied by any of it. The first time you listen to Shrines (Apocalyptic Witchcraft) you may well think that you’ve just done that without changing the album.
Shrines are one of those bands that it’s hard to pin down on paper, not because they’ve forced some uniquely individual style, but simply because they jump around so often that it’s frequently easy to forget that you’re listening to the same band. Across their debut’s ten tracks, Shrines cover sweeping Post-Metal, melancholic Black Metal, vaguely pastoral Doom, masterful Death Metal, bullish 90’s Metal chugging and some oddly laconic Gothy stuff about wolves that even manages to sound out of place on this album.
As this review is likely to focus on the negative, it needs to be said that the playing on Shrines is absolutely top notch – the band are in lockstep throughout, not missing a beat despite the complex and changing nature of the material – and there’s no shortage of excellent moments throughout. The problem is that they never manage to coalesce into anything meaningful. There’s nothing wrong with variety, of course, but the bands who really pull it off are the ones who invest every style they touch with a sense of their own identity – Shrines cover a lot of bases with style and precision, but there’s never a sense of who they are beneath that, and each time the album finishes you’re left with no greater idea of who they actually are as a band. The vocals also don’t help, moving (as you’d expect) from soaring clean singing to angry shouts and gruff roars, but never really committing to either and ultimately sounding passive and withdrawn.
Shrines is an impressive performance from a talented band who are undoubtedly trying to forge their own unique style, and for the right listener they may well “click” into something that truly transcends the sum of its parts. Unfortunately, for the rest of us, the abiding impression will be that of so many ideas that none of them really have chance to take root.