Artist: White Death
Title: White Death
Label: Werewolf Records
Review by Tërrørgåsm
Fortuitously unleashed in the early winter of 2017, this debut album from Finnish powerhouse White Death is just as sonically deadly as the wintry name implies, but by no means as achromatic or desolate as the hibernal images it may conjure. Rather, blistering riffs as fast as freezing winds constantly assail the listener, with searing rasped growls and rabid howls spat relentlessly through the blinding storm by vocalist Vritrahn, who possesses a decent range, providing some fog-breathing low growls at occasion, and even letting fly some surprising and very impressive clean-sung vocals on the final track, but more on that one later. The bulk of the music on this slab runs in the icy tracks of fellow Finnish forebears such as Satanic Warmaster, Behexen, and Sargeist, with distinct influences from the second-wave legends of Norway and Sweden like Gorgoroth and Marduk, with a driving rhythm section culling the vibes of old school death metal as proficiently as of hardcore punk, melding them into the indelible style so recognizable in modern Finnish BM.
Right from the initial barrage of “Born from the Unholy Fire”, the fierce and frosted riffs keep pummeling your ears nonstop, with unfaltering brutal grimness held firmly intact by perfectly-placed blastbeating and precision rhythm guitar. The bass (as is the standard in most black metal) is largely buried in the production and follows dutifully, unnoticeably along with the tunes but still provides a decent fullness to the compositions, which begin to slow down a bit in pacing moving toward the second half of the album, but do so without losing any of the menacing fury so prevalent throughout. After the somewhat somber dark moodiness of “Kaste”, a blood-curdling shriek introduces the frenzied blitzkrieg of standout track “Goat Emperor”, and yes, the lyrics to these songs are all blasphemous indictments against the holy, declarations of war on God and his followers, charged with satanic black magic, and glorifying hatred and perversion, especially so on the smirkingly titled “Cunt”, yet another highlight, whose grandiose orchestral bombast is made somewhat humorous with Vritrahn screeching:
“LUSTFUL SINISTER WHORE
BLEEDING AND SODOMIZED
BLASPHEMY OF FLESH
TRIUMPHANT DELIGHTFUL CUNT….
FILLED WITH SEMEN AND HUMBLE
CRAWLING LIKE A WORM
A CUNT OF DARKNESS
SERVANT OF PENIS”
But the music on this is undeniably epically rendered high-quality melodic black metal, and the lush keyboards sweeping along to accompany its hedonistically-charged riffs don’t at all detract from the raw, violent velocity of this band. This ain’t Cradle of Filth, it’s fucking sick. The warmongering “Commandant” retains this immense, melody driven assault and ramps up the epicalness even higher (while still keeping to the four-minute average of every other track) and although the keyboards here do start to stray into sounding like some computerised RPG plunking, it is nonetheless another ferocious beast in this pack of throat-rippers.
Now to the finale, and easily chosen main standout track here, “White Death’s Power”. Mournful sounding acoustic guitar plays a brief but startling intro to a churning stomper thematically consistent with the rest of the album, gleefully depicting a demonic victory against the forces of Christ in the glowing
flames of burning churches, and musically it’s like a cross between Satanic Warmaster’s epically catchy riff-fest “Carelian Satanist Madness” and “The Gates of Heaven” by Absurd, with the bouncy RAC vibe of the latter creeping into the mix, and then out of nowhere, halfway through the song, Vritrahn switches from the demoniac cackling, croaking, and screaming to a full sonorous baritone, cleanly singing the lyrics to fantastic effect, and one is tempted to sing along as if it were some classic, glorious power metal ballad, before the wicked growls begin to pitch in as well. Hell of a way to end this album, and I ended up replaying it many times over, enjoying it immensely. As stated before, this album is not necessarily anything groundbreaking but for ravenous fans of hook-laden Scandinavian black metal, I can’t recommend it highly enough, as it deftly earns a place amongst peers like Goatmoon and Horna, and manages to be somewhat unique in places as well, and I’m definitely looking forward to subsequent releases, perhaps likely to see some upcoming splits with some of the aforementioned acts, as well I think.
Final shot: Frosty, fiery, full-speed Finntastic fun for the whole fucked up family, buy or die.