Hetroertzen – Exaltation Of Wisdom
Now it has passed I am looking back on 2010 as a vintage year for the underground. There was a deluge of excellent releases by excellent bands right through the year. One of the very best, and probably my personal favourite was Exaltation of Wisdom. Not only does it represent the darkness that keeps Black Metal alive in such a tremendous way but it also casts the listener into a timeless void of deep thought and reflection.
Side Phosphoros begins with the haunting and scene setting intro ‘Incinerating Illumination’ which at first seems needlessly long, but really is one of the most appropriate intros I have heard to date. As it culminates in static, and ‘Like The Serpent’ opens up with echoing guitars and fast hammering percussion, I know my heraldings of the best album of 2010 are not hollow. Sounding like a modern version of all the best bits of early Black Metal in the space of several seconds is something to admire.
As Kæffel’s metaphysically imbued vocals come forth to complete the sound the listener will realise this is something special and is transported into the deepest caverns of foreboding and dark magic ritual. It is hard to describe the music and do it any accurate justice because it is simply so good. While it has verses and differing passages at different tempos it seems to loop and progress seamlessly; sounds odd but it really gets into your head.
‘Perpetual Eclipse Stigmata’ rattles into existence and reminds me of De Mysteriis era Mayhem…but a Thousand times better. This song made me realise the scope and proficiency of the production. Perfectly raw and rough enough to carry the treble heavy sound but incorporating a depth and richness of atmosphere that is very very rarely heard.
The closing incantation of this side is ‘The Final Breath Of Mankind’ which is swiftly becoming one of my all time favourite tracks – eclipsing dozens of what I thought were masterpieces from years gone by. Such a magnificently written and executed composition with a hallucinogenic tone to both music and lyrics. The drumming is amazing and whips up massive aggression right from its opening orchestral roll, the guitars following suit.
Although it sounds like the other tracks initially it dissolves into a riff of such despairing and woe for the opening two verses but without warning erupts. Using a short violent guitar which broadens out but then constricts once more to violence. Like all truly great songs of the genre it doesn’t stick with one formula and uses yet another passage to finish in turbulence prompted by the tolling of a ritualistic bell.
Side ‘Kaosphoros’ lives up to its name and commences with fast angry riffing as ‘Mystery Of The Fallen’ gets underway and becomes even faster and even angrier in a short space of time. All the while there is the all permeating magical atmosphere, like the Listener is actually one of the key components in complicated demonic or paranormal summoning. Not many songs make you properly aware of darkness like that.
‘Light Beyond The Obscure’ takes its time to deliver the first massive verse and surprised me by slowing down into the section after it. While the songs seem to blend together you can’t accuse Hetroertzen of being formulaic. The subtlety of their writing means that you’ll be picking out parts you never recognise for a long time as you traverse the bleak abyss they’ve created.
Finally ‘The White Priestcraft’ adds a bejewelled crown upon ‘Exaltation of Wisdom’. Encapsulating all that is so supreme about the writing on this album it begins with a primer section that lays the foundations nicely for old school savagery to materialise – without haste or the need for vocals Hetroertzen can radiate atmosphere and malevolence. There is a nice thrashy part included too near the end, some fierce drumming and clean(ish) shouted vocals. However the final dying scream is fitting in its necrotic splendour.
Not only is the music on this release so impeccable but the packaging complements what’s on the heavyweight vinyl too. With such a lavish presentation as this Lamech Records deserves special mention for creating a quality collectors item worthy for the hardcore supporters of underground Black Metal as it is limited to 500 blood numbered copies. The card used for the outer sleeve feels ornate and the inside is coloured red – a really subtle but nice contrast. The inner sleeve is also printed on both sides with ritualistic artwork.
There is also a poster and most notable of all a booklet entitled ‘Book of the Dragon’s Art’ which features lyrics and plenty of great artwork that further commends the release. Although not the best comparison it’s like Hetroertzen’s very own Necronomicon. If you are serious about your music then this is about as serious as you can get to date. Nothing short of masterful can describe this album, you need to own it.