Hailing from the frozen shores of Finland comes the symphonic Black Metal fury of Alghazanth, a band that has been quietly building up a loyal following in the metal underground since their inception in 1995. Beginning in 1999 the band went on to issue four albums before facing their biggest challenge as the group splintered apart shortly after 2004's The Polarity Axiom. After losing half of their previous lineup, original members Gorath (drums) and Thasmorg (guitars) shuffled things around (bassist Grimort switched to guitar) and enlisted two new members in Goat Tormentor (vocals & bass) and Ekholm (synths) in time to work on their fifth full length release entitled Wreath of Thevetat. It may have taken four years but the results are definitely worth the wait as the band rewards their devoted followers here with eight filthy masterpieces that not only feature an unbridled amount of intensity and agression, but is perfectly offset with just the right amount of symphonic atmospherics.
Wreath of Thevetat does highlight a heaping amount of blast beats, lighting quick tremolo picked guitar riffs and the harsh, scathing attack of Goat Tormentors vocals. Upon my initial listen my first impression was that the majority of this record sounds like your typical Black Metal release, yet after digging deeper and listening more intently it quickly became apparent that there are more layers to uncover here than one might expect. This is large in part due to the near perfect placement of the symphonic sounding keyboard and synths within the arrangements of the songs, which I might add never sound overbearing or attempt to dissuade the listener from the relentless riffing and surprisingly melodic attack of dual guitarists Thasmorg and Grimort. Ekholm's textural keyboard work offsets the natural aggression within each composition providing an ideal counter balance and at the same time further highlighting the organic nature of each track. This method is demonstrated right from the onset with opening track "Moving Mountains" and continues on down through to "Rise of Stars", with it's shimmering and cascading piano in the middle section, and the brilliant closing number "As Nothing Consumes Everything", which also has some well placed acoustic passages as well.
There's nary an ounce of filler to be found on Wreath of Thevetat, and this disc also flows with a remarkable amount of cohesiveness. The songwriting, performances and overall production work are all excellent and as far as symphonic Black Metal is concerned, it's hard to see how it can get any better than this. My only complaint I have about Wreath of Thevetat is that I didn't get to it earlier because this one definitely would have found it's way on to my best of 2008 list.
1) Moving Mountains
2) The Kings To Come
4) On Blackening Soil
5) Rain of Stars
6) Twice- Born
7) Future Made Flesh
8) As Nothing Consumes Everything