Sometimes, it’s good to hear a record and know from the offset exactly what it is trying to be. Croatian solo act Tenebrositas have been releasing demos and EPs of raw, frostbitten black metal for a few years now, and Alone In The Frozen Wastelands carries on in just that style. There’s nothing unusual here, no attempts at reinventing – or even slightly changing – a style that has been in existence for over twenty years now. Instead, it sticks absolutely to the fundamentals, but does so with such spirit that it’s hard to complain about it. If you’re looking for something new, this won’t be for you. But if you’re looking for mid-90’s style cold and nihilism, then press on.
As on previous releases, Alone In The Frozen Wastelands draws from the same pool of raw darkness as early Beherit and Transylvanian Hunger-era Darkthrone did. There’s practically no bass at all in the production, and the vocals are a rasp carried by the arctic wind, whilst the guitars are sharp and remorseless in their treble-heavy assault. Though the drums are obviously programmed, the sound on them is actually very fitting – nothing will ever compare with live drums, of course, but the sound of the ones on this EP fits the music well.
What makes Alone In The Frozen Wastelands worth your time is the fact that its spirit and character is that of cold black metal personified. There is something elemental here, a raw darkness that is of nature itself – there are no homages to Satan, no songs of blasphemous honour and glory, only the enduring majesty of winter that claims all in time. There are musical stand-out moments, such as the almost energetic opening to the title track and the way it shifts in to something far colder and mid-tempo, but overall, it is the atmosphere of this record which keeps pulling me back in to it.
All this is without mentioning closer ‘A Silence So Cold’, which represents a departure for Tenebrositas in that it is a dungeon synth track. It is wonderful in its minimalism, conjuring mental images of snow-covered lands as beautiful as they are deadly, and is a fine way to see out the record.
Inevitably, some will be less keen on Alone In The Frozen Wastelands. To some extent, your appreciation of it will depend on how much tolerance you have for bands so clearly recalling what has gone before. Whilst I usually have little time any more for black metal bands who stick so strongly to the sound of their chosen style, the spirit and aura of this EP makes this something I’ve been giving quite a lot of spins recently, and is a fine demonstration of how nailing the fundamentals of a chosen style can be every bit as good as warping them completely.
Alone In The Frozen Wastelands can be streamed and downloaded via Bandcamp.