Sunday, January 26, 2014

Countess: Sermons of the Infidel (2013)

Countess is a Dutch black metal band that has been around since the early 1990's.  Yet this is the first time I have had an occasion to listen to them.  Surprising considering how prolific they have been, releasing close to an album per year since their inception.  Countess is made up of two members on this release.  Orlok is the main driving force and sings and plays keyboards, bass and drums.  Zagan provides the guitar parts.

Given their name, Bathory is a band that came to mind when I first began looking into this band.  Countess Bathory, you know.  But that appeared to be a fairly apt association.  Countess sounds very much like a combination of the rawer blackened heavy metal of Bathory's early recordings and the much more epic-sounding material of the more viking metal-oriented releases.  The opening track is a perfect example of this with its keyboard-driven melody and simple blackened riff.

Much of the rest of the album continues along in this vein, trading keyboard melodies, riffs, and the occasional blistering solo.  The vocals are typically delivered in a standard black metal rasp.  The keyboard melodies really stand out on this album and are incredibly infectious and memorable.

The only real complaint that I have about this album is that it seems to be missing the kind of sinister feel that most of black metal is built upon.  This is more of a blackened heavy metal album than a black metal album.  The keyboards and solos are so clean and give off a feel of power and epic atmosphere that the black metal elements are overwhelmed.

That being said, I did enjoy this album and will have to look into Countess's impressive back catalogue.

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