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The Ruins of Beverast - Rain upon the Impure Review

by Mark Hensch

Patience truly is a virtue. After weeks of attempting to wrap my feeble mind around Rain Upon the Impure, the latest opus from Germany's Ruins of Beverast, I finally have grasped its meaning. Rain Upon the Impure is nothing short of a black metal masterpiece, its numbing lo-fi production masking heaps of ambition. In the tradition of the German Volsung sagas, Rain Upon the Impure is a vast, glorious opera, a pagan hymn seemingly echoing the loss of Teutonic culture in the wake of Christianity's dissemination. At an absurd seventy-nine minutes in length, this album is a tumultuous storm-head of emotions that challenges every fiber of critique I have ever possessed. To give an idea of the strenuous task this has proven to be, this review has taken me nearly triple the amount of time it takes for me to do a single review. After three months of feverish and conflicted analysis, the verdict is finally in: Rain Upon the Impure is some of the best headphones music ever conceived for grim, melancholy metalheads. There is no debating this cold, hard fact---period!

A soft whisper of rain falls and crows keen; in the distance, the wind whispers like the sound of icy steel softly slicing flesh and horses paw the ground in anxiety, their nervous whinnies betraying a sense of fear towards the oncoming storm. The low-end rumble of "50 Forts along the Rhine" is said storm's thunder, and it's stark, war-like melodies are its lightning. "50 Forts" explodes from amidst the aforementioned nature sounds and massacres listeners like a pillaging army; an inhuman moan drifts in dismal ghostliness over sparkling, inky waters, and then the assault comes. Shredding and lithe, the nimble blastbeating and razor-thin tremolo melodies cut with an intensity sorely lacking in most modern black metal, and this knows it. As if to show all the pretenders how it is done, this song mixes berserker brutality via the melodies to swelling choirs of angels that glitter with a righteous fire. The vocals are rough growls seemingly hewn straight from stone, and the song's funeral pace soon sinks slowly into a tar-pit of rushing clean passages and somber hymns. This in turn grows into a shuffling dirge of macabre phantasms; ethereal and shadowy, guitars wail and float endlessly in space. A horn section gracefully catches the listener's attention, and then another round of manic blasting laced with majesty ensues. This is powerful stuff, and I'm hooked.

"Soliloquy of the Stigmatized Shepherd" is thankfully even better. Blackened funeral doom snakes its way through mine-shafts of endless despair, their plodding hopelessness sinking to the lowest depths of the soul. As if to second-guess itself, a faint wisp of bass-drenched moodiness claws its way out of the darkness, only to be subdued by aftershocks of filthy sludge. Without warning, a murderous charge of whirling fury blasts past led by a melody that has all the tone of an ebony crystal shining in the deepest reaches of outer space. In a wholly unique twist, this moment of heart-wrenching sadness is so transformed into bittersweet joy, a churning pit of sound swirling around a folk-inspired chorus that is one of the album's many high-points. As if to further prove the organic, fluid feel of the song, Ruins quickly transitions into a blasting section, one last rendition of the fist-in-air-folk-chorus, and then a watery solo that drips into the darkest corners of the eardrum. "Soliloquy" is a quiet joy, and if given a listen, provides quite the shining gem.

The brief ambient spot that is "Rapture" doesn't even come in the same league unfortunately. As a brief trail of smoky sound and eerie effects, it does little besides a bit of useless atmosphere; the rest of the songs are much more capable of this on their own. "Blood Vaults (I=Thy Virginal Malodour)," however, brings back the glory, providing yet another marvelous opera of evil sounds. A haunting symphony of the damned waltzes in, its distorted and inky blackness tainting everything it touches. The riffs drift like dead leaves through the night sky; ironically, this song is the most simultaneously brutal and ethereal of the entire disc. On the one hand, it features honestly headbanging moments of furious blasting and deep riffs; on the other, the scum-drenched ambient passages and choirs of lost souls are the very epitome of dark, moody grandeur.

Eerie vocal samples and tolling church bells kick off "Soil of the Incestuous," a plodding beast which seems to enjoy wallowing in its own soft filth. The strange guitar tones meld seamlessly with the mechanical, anvil-strike percussion, the likes of which recalls the work of conceptual Nords Jotunspor. What emerges from this unique sonic tapestry is a war of Giants with their massive stomps of sound and lesser, mortal man, the likes of whom swarms and overwhelms his foes with rabid, biting hatred. Blatantly unhinged yet never unfocused, "Soil of the Incestuous" is the sort of ultra-grim BM that brings people back to bands like Darkthrone again and again. Simply put, when it is done right, it sounds damn good.

"Balnaa-Kheil the Bleak" winds the disc down, its sinister hiss a brief passage of ambience and decay. From it comes the violent squalor of "Rain Upon the Impure," the likes of which is an absolute downpour of skeletal elegies and wind-swept dismay. Ominous, graceful, and menacing all at the same time, "Impure" is a monolith few other bands in the one-man black metal field could ever hope to scale. Shadowy notes lead into an epic crescendo of pulverizing, grooving BM, the kind that slices simply from how precise the slow, exquisitely hurtful melodies are. Many people have been quick in ages past to name-check any number of bands as symphonic black metal's vanguards---Beverast trumps them all, and any doubters can check out this labyrinth to evil and darkness if they still have misgivings.

It is truly frightening that a single person can pen music this memorable, timeless, brutal, complex, and fluid, all at once and in one fell swoop. Rain Upon the Impure is that rare work so bursting at the seams with marvelous ideas that even after being stretched to the breaking point, there is plenty of ground left to be covered. Here's hoping that in the long days to come listeners have plenty more. Five stars.

Ruins of Beverast's Rain Upon the Impure
1. 50 Forts along the Rhine
2. Soliloquy of the Stigmatized Shepherd
3. Rapture
4. Blood Vaults (I=Thy Virginal Malodour)
5. Soil of the Incestuous
6. Balnaa-Kheil the Bleak
7. Rain upon the Impure

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The Ruins of Beverast - Rain upon the Impure

Rating:10.00 out of 10.00

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