Eastern Front - Blood on Snow Review
by Matt Hensch
"Blood on Snow" immediately shows signs of a consistent black metal squad. Eastern Front is capable of many feats, but the British warlords lack the raw ability and expertise of their musical partners to truly become a band of legends. Dabbling in the brutalized hide of black metal, Eastern Front makes "Blood on Snow" a violent, abrasive dive into war-themed destruction that simultaneously adds epic, emotive melodies and designs, making their debut very layered and sophisticated despite its outside appearance. I wanted to write a scathing review loaded with jokes and insults the first time I heard "Blood on Snow," but this grew on me a lot. Not only is it a satisfying listen, but a bold one at that. In fact, Eastern Front's dazzling showmanship probably reigns over some works of their main influences.
The band's style is relatively rotated on harsh black metal for a majority of the album. Easily two-thirds of Eastern Front's attack pays homage to some of black metal most inspirational groups with blast beats, tremolo picking and leads, shrieking and growling vocals. Overall nothing too special or original. There is something that makes this band really magnetic though. For example, "Battle Of Smolensk" looks, on paper, like a recipe for disaster, with all the basic tremolo picking and blast beats, but the anthem grows out of its lackluster state and eventually becomes rather enjoyable after a few listens. Of course, the band's structural integrity is coincidentally the record's most prominent woe. Not much of the bloodthirsty rampage goes beyond a bloodthirsty rampage, and that's surprisingly a tad of a letdown considering the lyrical topics revolve around the Russian/German battles during WWII, with the struggles and untimely deaths of military warriors on both sides being a prominent aspect of Eastern Front's musical revelation.
Eastern Front makes the goods on a lot of what they do, however; even going above and beyond the call of duty at certain intervals. The first three tracks are pretty basic, just cookie-cutter examples of skin-peeling black metal. The interlude "Dvenadtzat Kilometrov Ot Moskvy" is actually an amazing piece of samples and piano keys which summon a distinct picture of families torn by war trying to cope with the dooming conflict. Totally surreal and excellent; a prime example of what interludes should create for the listener. "At the Gates of Moscow" and "Where Warriors Once Fell" are absorbing epics with layers of brilliant instrumentation and chilling black metal at its very finest. Now if the first half of "Blood on Snow" could match the marching, stellar atmosphere of the album's second piece, we'd have a magnum opus.
Sure, definitely not the most original or unexpected album ever, but it's almost shocking how well it works. Eastern Front is a rare breed. Few bands can take the blast-laden black metal approach and force a flame of rejuvenation within. Of course, there are items that outdo "Blood on Snow" in nearly every category, but this isn't bad for a rookie effort, not at all. Black metal has seen brighter days and blacker nights, but Eastern Front still makes a head-turning dent in the genre's court. This one may surprise you.
Eastern Front - Blood on Snow
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