The Ruins of Beverast - The Thule Grimoires
Van Records
Atmospheric Blackened Doom
7 songs (1:09:26)
Release year: 2021
The Ruins of Beverast, Van Records
Reviewed by Goat

Alexander von Meilenwald continues to push and experiment with his one-man project The Ruins of Beverast's careful alchemy of black and doom precious metals, and sixth full-length The Thule Grimoires sadly sees a shifting on from the shamanistic-infused bleakness of 2017's still excellent Exuvia. As was hinted at in parts of that album, a gothic draping here and there allied itself well to the band's base sound, so it's not really a surprise to find that the nearly seventy-minute Thule Grimoires has embraced this much more wholeheartedly. The shamanistic elements are gone almost entirely but this is still very much experimental and bleakly atmospheric black metal at its heart, as the savage opening to Ropes into Eden proves with whirring Blut Aus Nord-esque riffing and spat out lyrics atop blurry blastbeats. And then immediately von Meilenwald offers up proof of his willingness to experiment with goth rock melodies and yearning clean singing, which ranges across the album from My Dying Bride-esque misery to more cornily gothic Peter Steele moans, to even post-punk and sludgy moments that are more reminiscent of Justin Broadrick's Jesu (The Tundra Shines' fantastic ending moments, for example). Add to this the usual deep, dark grunts of von Meilenwald that still form the majority of the vocals and ghostly backing chorals that echo in the distance like voices in the wind, and you have a genuine variety that is just one element amongst many on this complex album.

You could almost split The Thule Grimoires into two; the first three songs, with a slight more emphasis on the typical doomy bleak post-black atmosphere that fans of the band will come to have known and loved. And then, from Mammothpolis onwards, an even more gothic and experimental second part; that song beginning with hoarse whispers over keyboard ambience before developing into gothic rock meandering with a touch of 80s industrial. It's something of an extended interlude in its place in the tracklisting, especially once the percussion-heavy Anchoress in Furs begins to rumble with eerie female vocals (uncredited, interestingly) atop upbeat, almost Triptykon-esque doomy riffs. As it continues something of that Exuvian spirit returns, particularly once the drumming becomes more intense and tribal and von Meilenwald returns to his growls, resulting in the best track on the album. The most gothic-influenced moments come at the start of finale Deserts to Blind and Defeat, which alternates between those Triptykon-esque doomy thuds and more minimalist rock that is focused more around bass than guitars. And if you do love gothic rock (as opposed to gothic metal and its poor reputation amongst metalheads thanks to thousands of identikit European bands that embrace pop above doom metal) and its resurgence thanks to experimental metal groups, then you will love this, as close to hearing The Cure with blastbeats as you will ever get.

Where the album has issues is that it lacks the gripping spirit of its predecessor along with the novel shamanistic elements - gothic rock is far more common in black metal-adjacent projects these days, and although von Meilenwald incorporates them well, there are undeniably moments on this near-70 minute beast that don't land as well and can even approach dullness. 2013's Blood Vaults proved that one-man bands can sometimes need editors to whittle away the rotten wood from the healthy, and you can't help but feel that someone should have sliced away at The Thule Grimoires' edges. There is a strange similarity to Kromlec'h Knell and The Tundra Shines here, for instance, the former enhanced with some rather beautiful lead guitar but using the mix of clean and harsh vocals in a very similar way to the point of feeling almost repetitive. And it is easier to come away from the album as a whole with none of the weight and impact that the unique Exuvia left. It's a difficult task to summarise Ruins of Beverast albums given how they're all tremendous bursts of genius, and so a divisive, not-their-best-but-still-good release like this is even more tough to weigh up in mere words. Yet the genius that haunts the heart of the band remains, even though better exists elsewhere, and it's still impossible to avoid recommending. You should treat a new album from this project like a hot bath, something to sink into and relax with as you absorb its embrace. It may not be the best you've ever had, you may step on a stray soap, but it's still a joy in itself that speaks to the soul, and The Ruins of Beverast remain a vital extreme metal experience, combining genres in an atmospheric trip like few other acts can produce.

Killing Songs :
The Tundra Shines, Anchoress in Furs, Deserts to Blind and Defeat
Goat quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by The Ruins of Beverast that we have reviewed:
The Ruins of Beverast - Exuvia reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
The Ruins of Beverast - Takitum Tootem! (EP) reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
The Ruins of Beverast - Blood Vaults – The Blazing Gospel of Heinrich Kramer reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
The Ruins of Beverast - Foulest Semen of a Sheltered Elite reviewed by Charles and quoted 85 / 100
The Ruins of Beverast - Rain Upon the Impure reviewed by Alex and quoted 78 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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