This new Symphonic Black Metal band from Russia has what it takes to conquer the world of heavy music.
Although the Winter Olympics 2014 are over, let’s stay in Russia and enjoy the obscure Imminence, the debut album from Symphonic Black Metal band Bjarm. Formed in 2009 and based in the city of Severodvinsk, in the north of Arkhangelsk Oblast, the name of the band was not chosen in vain: Bjarmaland (also spelled Bjarmland or Bjarmia) was a territory mentioned in Norse sagas up to the Viking Age, and it usually referred to the southern shores of the White Sea and the basin of the Northern Dvina River, which today comprise a part of the Arkhangelsk Oblast of Russia. In other words, the band has a very creative and strong name, but what about their music?
Honestly, it’s very difficult to find anything from Russian Heavy Metal bands on the web and even harder at any music store (at least here in Canada), so I didn’t know what to expect from Bjarm. I personally don’t remember listening to or reading about any bands from Russia except for Symphonic Power Metal band Арктида (Arktida) and Epic Pagan Metal band Аркона (Arkona), and even in those two cases the information is usually very scarce. However, I went to a Helloween concert during my vacation last year in Saint Petersburg and was able to see how passionate Russian fans are for heavy music, so in my mind I started to imagine their music as something at least full of passion and feeling.
And for my total happiness, I was not wrong: the final result in Imminence outdid all my expectations in terms of creativity, intensity and professionalism. Bjarm might be essentially a Black Metal band, but by adding many elements from Symphonic Metal and Death Metal in their music they were able to create a more complex musicality than just some raw generic Black Metal. Not only that, the fact that Imminence was mixed at a good studio such as Stone Oil Studio and mastered by Tony Lindgren (who has already worked with great bands like Paradise Lost and Kreator) at Fascination Street Studios, provided the album a very good and professional sound quality too.
The imposing intro Approaching Of The Close opens the album in a way that would make the guys from Cradle of Filth very proud, as it reminds me of their famous intros from the albums Dusk and Her Embrace and Cruelty and the Beast, followed by the dark and heavy Knowledge Of Doom, a pure Black Metal song with amazing female vocals and atmospheric keyboards, and without any doubt one of the best tracks in Imminence. The obscurity goes on with Ominous Dreams, with highlights to the deep growling by Andrey and the extremely heavy riffs mixed with some more strong keyboard notes.
The next track, The Nine Worlds, is one of the fastest of all (if not the fastest) especially due to the Death Metal elements found in it; it’s not less symphonic, though, as the keyboards are always there to give it that Black Metal touch. Fire Lord’s Torment sounds like if it was extracted from a horror movie soundtrack, with a beautiful piano in the beginning that works as an intro to a very heavy and dense sequence, while the title-track, Imminence, is an instrumental song very well-executed by all band members, especially the keyboards by the gorgeous Anastasiya. By the way, what’s the secret with the girls in Russia? I’ve never seen a single Russian girl that is not pretty!
Getting back to the music in Imminence, the next track, Oracle, is very melancholic and evil, and has lots of elements from Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir in it, especially the diabolic vocals by Andrey that seem to be really inspired by Shagrath, while Secret Of The Immortals gets back to a more symphonic sonority with total focus on the sound of the keyboards together with the rhythmic drums.
The last part of Imminence is composed by the song The Highest Hall, another evil track that sounds a lot like some old Dimmu Borgir songs with a pretty decent job done by drummer Vitaliy, and Tree On The Bones, a truly grim track that, although not as creative as the rest of the album, ends it in a way that will let all listeners with a very good impression of the work done by the band, eager for more of Bjarm’s Symphonic Black Metal and to see them recreating all that dark atmosphere in a live concert.
The album art, designed by artist Al.Ex, from the Mayhem Project, is also very professional, and of course, dense and obscure as expected, increasing the overall quality of Imminence even more. I’m pretty sure all band members are extremely proud of their “child”, and let’s hope new good bands like Bjarm keep coming from Russia or any other countries to provide us metalheads more unique and interesting music like what’s found in Imminence.
Best moments of the album: Knowledge Of Doom, Ominous Dreams and Oracle.
Worst moments of the album: Fire Lord’s Torment and Tree On The Bones.
Released in 2014 Fono Ltd.
1. Approaching Of The Close 3:32
2. Knowledge Of Doom 6:33
3. Ominous Dreams 6:23
4. The Nine Worlds 5:55
5. Fire Lord’s Torment 6:04
6. Imminence 3:46
7. Oracle 3:47
8. Secret Of The Immortals 4:33
9. The Highest Hall 4:13
10. Tree On The Bones 5:30
Andrey – Vocal
Egor – Guitar
Anastasiya – Keyboards
Aleksey – Guitar
Mikhail – Bass
Vitaliy – Drums