Featuring members from all over the world, Halberd is an international death/doom project that recently released their first full-length album. These 4 tracks span 40 minutes, and while there is plenty of doom, “Remnants of Crumbling Empires” has some other interesting things to offer as well. The opening song, “Northern Bloodletting”, features symphonic orchestrations underneath some of the doomier passages. In addition, the band can really hit the speed when they need to. They don’t really approach the speed of some of the faster death metal bands out there, but they give enough of a boost that the record has some variety in it. It’s similar to how Autopsy does the death/doom, only Halberd puts more emphasis on the doom than they do. With that said, the first two songs are much faster than the last two. “Barghash’s Poison” barely goes into slower passages, instead opting for a more typical death metal song. It works here because it’s only 5 minutes, and it’s a great change of pace before the last 2 behemoth tracks on the album. “Northern Bloodletting” also features a pretty upbeat solo section, but immediately reverts back to crushing doom. The drumming is huge, and when combined with the symphonics, gives off a cavernous feel.
The final two tracks on “Remnants of Crumbling Empires” take a bit of a different approach from the other two. They are longer, slower, and bring a lot more dread. Interestingly, towards the end of “Ignorance of Morbidity”, there are some great epic leads. The song fades out on a solo, which is a bit disappointing because it’s the best part of the song, and things were really clicking at that point. Likewise, the final track, “Dead Horses Cavalry” also fades out, and once again, it does so at the best moment of the song. The riff in the final minute and a half of this tune is the most impressive on the album, and it will be stuck in your head all day. This is likely why this song fades out: to leave the listener wanting more.
From a production standpoint, this album is pretty impressive. The mix isn’t clean, but it’s easy to understand what’s going on. It has just the right amount of sickness for something in this style. Vocally, Halberd does it all. There are disgustingly low gutturals, higher screams, and all sorts of twisted sounds. There’s even some narration later on in the record. The bass playing isn’t particularly prominent, but there’s enough low end on the album already. Overall, the sound of this album is quite fitting to its theme. Death/doom is not a favourite style of mine, but Halberd shows that, when done properly, it is quite effective. At the end of the day, the quality of riffs is what is important, and Halberd delivers that time and again on this record.
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"Ignorance of Morbidity"
"Dead Horses Cavalry"
4.3/5 or 86%.
Written by Scott