Working alone affords the freedom to really do whatever one wants, in any creative capacity they see fit. That’s certainly something Alexander von Meilenwald, the punch-packing creator behind German extreme metal project The Ruins of Beverast, has reaped the benefits of. Since the release of his first record under that name, 2004’s Unlock the Shrine, Meilenwald has explored blackened doom extensively, adding in gothic and mild swaths of psychedelia at times, not to mention whatever the metal version of noodling guitars are and an interesting approach to album titles (Foulest Semen of a Sheltered Elite is of particular note). Yet the latest Ruins release, The Thule Grimoires, channels the cold, mystic imagery the title entails—translating the ancient energy of the most northern point in ancient Greek and Roman literature with the literal magical powers held within grimoires into an enjoyably cold release.
Meilenwald’s past experimentation paid off then, but The Thule Grimoires reverberate with slightly more traditional approaches. “Ropes Into Eden” is an opener with relentless force, breaking down around the five and half minute mark into near industrial/post-punk mix before creeping back up to its original gusto. Still, it’s fairly mild in comparison to its succeeding track “The Tundra Shines.” At just over 11 minutes, it’s as appropriately named as the album itself, vociferating the frigid yet beautiful emptiness of such biomes, with fuzzy guitars that purposefully don’t give any warmth and a droning pulse midway through that replicates the nagging need for such comfort. It’s one of, it not, the best tracks on the album, not just for its structure, but for the feeling it leaves as well.
With the first two songs being notable instrumentally, the middle three find their intrigue vocally. Meilenwald touches on gothic notes again, calling more on Peter Steele of Type O Negative than, say, Wrest of Leviathan/Lurker of Chalice or Mikko Aspa of Deathspell Omega, on “Kromlec’h Knell” and“Mammothpolis,” though he returns to those harsher foundations of utterance on “Polar Hiss Hysteria.”
Ruins of Beverast have seemingly kept people on their toes regarding the nature of its releases, but The Thule Grimoires is one that seems true to nature in every form. It’s not one the listener has to work for to appreciate—the tracks work for the lister, dazing them with an instrumental magic that also drags them through the snow.