The gentle ambience of “Menin daur”, which borders on dungeon synth atmospherics, belies a raw, untamed and violent beast lying in wait: Servants of the Cold Night, the first full-length from Andeis, is by no means a kind or forgiving listening experience.
Everything about the album speaks equal parts ferocious nihilism and subtle melody. Even the evocative cover artwork, showing torch-carrying aspirants on their way to some unnamable ritual in a ruined castle beneath a lunar eclipse, is gorgeously rendered, but carries a palpable air of malevolence – pairing itself perfectly with this thick, insidious and acidic music. Its seeping menace is balanced by surprisingly sensitive key arrangements (such as those on “Andilausa aƕa azgons”) reminiscent of early Limbonic Art – although the harsher, more percussive stabs in “Wintrus hailagaizos aggwiþos” are more in the vein of Mysticum or Aborym.
The short, sharp delivery of the record – less than half an hour for seven tracks – speaks to the thrash/death roots of second wave black metal, as does the cacophonic production value, and its fans of this era that are most likely to find musical satisfaction in Servants of the Cold Night (grab a copy on Bandcamp here). Other genres, even from the harsher end of the spectrum, are unlikely to appreciate the homage being paid on this record: in fact, the tinny, high gain overall presence is likely to deter listeners from considering the intellectual value of an album written in pre-Medieval Gothic, or the undeniable beauty in the arrangement of “Skauns dauþus”, which itself is a fitting segue into album closer, “The Black Oath”, a piece of music that could easily slot in alongside such ‘90s black metal anthems as Gorgoroth’s “Blood Stains the Circle” or Mayhem’s “Freezing Moon”.
Starting at the beginning, with opener “Menin daur”, listen to the full album here.
Admittedly, as an unashamed black metal aficionado, it is far easier for me to forgive the primitive production and delve into the actual musical offering that is Servants of the Cold Night, but for the uninitiated, this bare-bones, minimalist record promises to be a frightening experience.