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On disc: Eastern Front

Blood On Snow - Mike Thompson - 9 stars

Blood On Snow

Blood On Snow
(Candlelight Records - 2010)

As anyone who has seen this band live will attest Eastern Front are one of the best black metal bands to come out of the UK since, well, ever really. They were voted best unsigned band by the Metal Underground in 2007 and have even had a song featured on the soundtrack for the movie Faintheart. The band have recently signed a contract with Candlelight Records and it is through this label that the debut album Blood On Snow is being distributed.
Unlike a lot of the current wave of UK black metal bands Eastern Front are not a part of the heathen heritage movement, instead basing their lyrics around the topic of war and on this album centering on Operation Barbarossa, the ill-fated German invasion of Russia in the World War Two. In this sense they are very much the black metal equivalent of Hail Of Bullets whose debut ...Of Frost And War was also thematically based around the Eastern Front in World War Two. In fact, that would make for a great gig (hint, hint)!
Opening with Stalinorgel, the sounds of war greet your ears and the guitars soon crash in with all the subtlety of an artillery bombardment. This is quickly followed by the hoarse shrieks of vocalist Nagant. Stylistically the band are similar to Negator or Panzer Division-era Marduk with fast-paced, crushing black metal being the main order of the day. However, it is not the only facet of Eastern Front's sound as they also have many passages more reminiscent of a doom style and some more melodic parts such as the opening to Motherland. The songs vary in duration from the standard four minute face melter to the all-out assault of eight and nine minute epics. To Eastern Front's credit the album is never boring and rarely does attention wander from the war-torn soundscapes they present.
Nagant's vocals are hoarse and rasping in that traditionally unintelligible sense for the most part. However, he is a versatile vocalist who also switches to death growls and even some occasional clean vocals. His voice suits the music perfectly and really adds to the bleak 'Russian winter' atmosphere of the album.
The production of the album is just about perfect for a black metal album. It is not over-produced to the extent where the sound is sterile and boring but nor does it suffer from sounding like it was recorded in an outside toilet on a windy day. All of the instruments can be heard, even the bass, and the guitars have a great bite and don't sound too tinny. The drums are one of the main forces behind Eastern Front's war-like sound. The bass drum in particular has the stutter of a heavy machine gun!
This is a phenomenal debut from an up & coming British band who will soon find themselves at the very top of the black metal echelon.

9 stars

Mike Thompson


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