CWEALM – Odes to No Hereafter
Listening to melodic Swedish black metal on a cold and windy night can be an atmospheric and moody experience at times. With respect to the one-man outfit bearing the obscure name of Cwealm (meaning "death" in old English if my memory serves me correctly), the 40-minute opus that is "Odes to No Hereafter"is musical journey through bleak and desolate landscapes that reek of misanthropy and misery. Certain aspects of the album take me back to when I discovered some of the classic and defining releases of the 90s by bands such as Dissection, Sacramentum, and Necrophobic, just to list a few and noteworthy examples. Cwealm, which is run and handled solely by Astraeus, performs melancholic and morose black metal with a strong emphasis on the beauty and inevitable victory of death. A sense of nihilism seems to emanate from some of the melodies while the vocals are clearly driven by hatred and a deep-seated desire for us (and possibly him?) to die, and you can’t really blame him, can you? The songs have a raw edge to them that I find appealing, but I do wish they had a more powerful and punchy sound to them. They come across as somewhat flat in places. Having said that, the musicianship is impressive and there is a lot of potential on display here. Some of the lyrics are interesting and thought-provoking, too. That especially goes for the Baudelairian "Kadavret" and "Wither, Tainted Crown". Musically, there are some sinister and yet somber passages that work very well, but the album as a whole does lose momentum from time to time due to some of the tracks, riffs, and melodies sounding a bit too alike and same-y. In fact, some of the best features of the album are those mellow and downright eerie parts that creep in from time to time. They also add a bit of much-needed variety to the proceedings. I just wish that there were more of them.
All in all, "Odes to No Hereafter" is a decent slab of cold and oppressive black metal that certainly has its moment, but it is a little too uneven for my taste. But try spinning this disc on one of those dark and self-loathing nights of yours – who knows what it will do to you?