- Band(s): Crimson Evenfall
- Label(s): Werewolf Records
- Release Format(s): 12" vinyl, Compilation, Re-Release
- Release Year: 2023
- Review Date: March 7, 2023
- Author(s): VincentP
The Finnish band Musta Surma has yet to release a single full-length despite their creation in 1997, but their discography is filled with high profile releases in the form of in particular split albums. These include two split releases with Horna and participation in the colossal “Crushing the Holy Trinity’ split that besides Musta Surma also features none other than Clandestine Blaze, Stabat Mater, Mgła, Exordium and Deathspell Omega. The band’s most recent effort dates from 2013, which again was a split with Bloodhammer and Annihilatus. Alongside these splits, the band released 2 EPs, but it all started with their 1998 demo. Or so it seems. Turns out it didn’t quite start with that demo. And that is where Crimson Evenfall comes in.
When Strigoi Mort (on guitar and bass) and Thyrgrimmr (drums and vocals) formed Musta Surma in 1997, they did so upon the ruins of Crimson Evenfall. That band had formed in 1994 and besides the two aforementioned members also featured bass player Krieg. Krieg ended up leaving in 1997 which triggered the name change, but as Crimson Evenfall the band had recorded three demos: ‘Nocturnal Storms of Infinity’ (1996), ‘Winterheart’ (1997) and ‘Ad Inferos Ante Christum Natum’ (1997). More than 25 years later these demos once again see the light of day as two vinyl re-releases, one containing the first two demos and the other containing ‘Ad Inferos Ante Christum Natum’ as a separate release. Leave it up to the purveyors of the Finnish Black Metal underground, Werewolf Records, to unearth these hidden underground gems.
On the band’s first demo we find them playing raw Finnish Black Metal, that at the very core is not that different from Musta Surma. Of course, we are talking about recordings that are both earlier and cruder, but a lot of the typical raw Finnish Black Metal sound is already there. One major difference is the presence of keyboards played by Thyrgrimmr, which were abandoned when the band changed from Crimson Evenfall to Musta Surma. These are used in a fairly minimal, almost whistling manner to enhance the atmosphere on top of the straightforward Black Metal guitar riffs. With blasting drums and croaking vocals, the result is a great example of raw Finnish Black Metal that at that time was still a little bit closer to the Norwegian sound of for instance Darkthrone. Especially for a demo from 1996, when raw Finnish Black Metal as we know it was still in its formative years, this is a great release that is on a similar level of for instance the Horna material of that time.
Not much after the first demo the band released ‘Winterheart’ in early 1997. There is still that raw and straightforward approach of the preceding demo. The overall sound of the second Crimson Evenfall demo is a little bit more gnarly however, with a touch more melancholy and a bit more subdued, almost humming role for the keyboards. It sounds as if the band was inspired by the increasingly more influential French Les Légions Noires scene that strongly left its marks on the Finnish Black Metal scene. You can even argue that while the first demo still had a Norwegian ring to it, on ‘Winterheart’ Crimson Evenfall have further moved towards what later would become known as typical raw Finnish Black Metal. Compared to the original release this re-release features an additional track entitled ‘Bringer of Ater’. This song has a similar but slightly different production, suggesting it was either mixed or recorded at a different time. Stylistically the song fits with the rest of the material on ‘Winterheart’ but takes a slightly less repetitive and therefore more dynamic approach with especially more variation in the guitar riffs. The drums however continue blasting their way through the tracks in typical fashion.
Out of the two, ‘Winterheart’ is the more unsettling sounding demo, and I therefore slightly prefer that over ‘Nocturnal Storms of Infinity’. But it’s clear that both these demos are a great example of an early rendition of raw Finnish Black Metal that will no doubt appeal to those that appreciate the style and the work of Musta Surma and Werewolf Records.
- Country: Finland
- Style: Black Metal