Blackthorn – Gossamer Witchcraft [2010]

Band: Blackthorn
Album: Gossamer Witchcraft
Release year: 2010
Genre: Extreme Metal/Gothic Metal/Black Metal

It’s not often that one hears of an all-female extreme metal band from Russia, let alone any kind of metal band from Russia, as most of the exposure for metal seems to be in European nations such as Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Scandinavia along with some emerging from the US. However, Blackthorn, made up of five lovely ladies, whom hail from Russia, have been a force not to be messed with in the Russian metal scene, combining gothic and black metal into something new. Their debut album “Gossamer Witchcraft” will be the album to determine their success on the international metal scene.

”Immortelle for a Hollow Grave”, the shortest track on the album, offers up a very mystifying atmosphere with the use of whispers and a haunting piano medley. “Edenbeast” seems to carry on from where “Immortelle for a Hollow Grave” finishes, bringing with it a violent guitar riff and fast-paced orchestration. The drums are machine-like in their playing, yet more brutal and heavy than a drum machine could ever be. The vocals leave something to be desired as their operatic styling doesn’t seem to work along side the aggression of the guitars. The guitar solo is just amazing – Whoever said that a woman can’t solo is clearly wrong. The gothic orchestration of “Necromance” follows after, before the orchestration is wiped away by the guitars. The vocals are different to begin with, favouring good ol’ fashioned death metal grunts and growls but the operatically styled vocals can be heard on this track yet they seem to work with the savagery of the track this time. “Necromance”, put simply, is like a more extreme version of an Epica track.

”The Moon Emerged From Behind Clouds” begins with a faster tempo compared to the two last tracks. The brutality continues on this one as well, fortunately enough for those who enjoy the elements of extreme metal. The soprano vocals are simply memorising and enchanting. The riffs seem to have a bit more melody whilst the drums still have that machine-like precision to them. Classical meets gothic in the form of “Saturnia” during its introduction. The guitar riff that follows has a very death metal sound to it, whilst the drums appear to be lacking slightly in power. The keyboard  and vocal sections add a hint of beauty of the beasty violence of the guitars and drums.

“Blackthorn Winter” is another song with a gothic-turns-brutal introduction. Everything, except for the keyboards and vocals, seems faster, more violent and more angry. In some sections, it sounds as if the vocals are struggling to keep up with the tempo of the music. The best thing about the track would have to be energy and passion that just burst out at the listener. “The Blackness I Prowl” has an interesting beginning, being composed of dark orchestration and what could possibly be the sound of a howling wolf. The vocals are so powerful yet so haunting at the same time. The voice over about half way through adds a very horror film-like touch to the track as well. An interesting thing about “The Blackness I prowl” is the emphasis on the orchestration as opposed to the shredding guitars and pounding drums.

The title track “Gossamer Witchcraft” has a good introduction – Combining dark orchestration with narration. There is more emphasis on the orchestration throughout the song, with the guitars having a minor part in comparison though they do appear frequently through the track, fortunately enough for those who enjoy the face-melting riffs. Though the soprano vocals are featured through the track, there does seem to be more work done by the narration and voice overs which is somewhat of a let down but the guitar solo does heavily make up for the let down!

”Will-o-the-wisp” combined orchestration, acoustic guitars, soprano vocals and distorted riffs into a masterpiece of a track. Oddly enough though, it seems vaguely familiar in the eerie déjà vu kind of sense. “The Cobweb Veils Fall Down With Grace” acts as an interlude before the final two songs, bringing a terrifying essence to the album with its dark and melancholy piano medley. The final two tracks are the Russian language editions of “Necromance” and “The Moon Emerged From Behind Clouds”. They are a lot more exciting with Russian lyrics, bringing a sense of despair and horror with them.

Blackthorn certainly are different to most female fronted bands. They are more aggressive and violent in the music and more dramatic and haunting in the vocals – In fact, in terms of heaviness and brutality, they put a lot of male-dominated bands in the extreme metal scene to shame. “Gossamer Witchcraft” is a mammoth of a testament to the skill, talent and musical genius of Blackthorn. It’s a great addition to any extreme and gothic metal fan’s collection and clearly has the potential to be amongst the top metal albums of the century.

5/5

Nico Davidson

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