One of the lesser known lights of the ambient/black metal sphere (possibly due to his gbbeing pinned to the other side of the planet in New Zealand)
One of the more obscure New Zeakand black metallers ( which says a lot on its own, fer fucks sake)
this is the original Hiemal, as a couple of imposters have popped up in recent years ALSO performing a black metal-influenced brand of winter-syntgh / arctic ambient
These early-demo collections were amongst the final releases to surface from Infernal Kommando Records, a killer cult French black metal label that pretty much specuializedf in only the rawest, most misanthropic, and often most tasteless black metal and noise that was at the time being smeared around the international underground
Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze combined with corpse-painted romanticism
Recorded and released iom 2010, both of these initial demos (like most of Hiemal's output) first showed up as pure a digital download before making its way to tape; the sussurant hiss of audio cassette does the material more justice, in my opinion. The Demo I features evocatively-titled tracks "Rain On The Winter Soil", "The Receving Light", "In The Darkness", "Winters Sorrow", and "Thaw", a seeming procession through consectuive environents, but all conjuiring images of high snowbanks, bare black trees leaning under the weight of massive icicles, dank cave-like depressions in a barren hillside, just pure impressionistic atmopshere. I find these early Hiemal demos to be utterly spellbining in their raw and innocent wondrousness, opening with swirling Berlin School-esque synthesizers and gently gleaming melodic notes, the electronics slowly whirling around, each note frozen and suspended in that frigid air, whooshing synths descending from above as piano-like sounds emerge as well; it's really high quality arctic synth that fans of upper-tier Winter / Dungeon Synth will probably want to mainline imme3diately. But then that morphs into slow and almost graceful blackened doom buried beneath a mile of reverb and choral pads; songs like "Light" or the blackened ultra-crush noise-doom of ' "Winters Sorrow" shifting between that soft slow buzzing black metal drone, glacial time-freezing backbeats and these spare moments of hushed speaking and minimal percussion, or the chattering, bone-rattling no-fi necro crawl of "Darkness" - HOLY SHIT - and the almost Fabio Frizzi-ian piano notes dancing over the Zeit-esque synths on closer "Thaw".
. The way that he ties all of this together here is so bleak and dense and hypnotiing. These earlier recordings certainly tap one of my primary veins, sending me a rush of cold, desolate, mournful sound that shifts like snowbanks in the middle of the night: these songs move from that submerged-in-a-winter-lake raw doom-laden black metal, into those pure washes of droning keyboard in the vein of Vinterriketttt, Moloch, early J√§√§portit , Paysage d'Hiver, and, of course, Ildjarn's classic icy keyboard visions Landscapes (1996) and Hardangervidda (2002). Rich, lush, beautifully simple and primal arrangements that are overflowing with emotion, despair, lonliness, awe, but also lashed with these bizarre droning tremolo-picked, effects-drenched guitar lines that blur into an atonal buzzing, often HERALDIONG the eruption of a kind of strange and muted heaviness from Hiemal's black metal passages; there'd definintly some nicely outre axe-shred burning through some of the tape's most magnificent moments, so things get majestically weird at times.
The other side, Demo II? It'sa straight line from the raw roiling angst and wintry electronic blur of the first tape, four similarly evocative and sensuous song titles songs ("Coldwinds", "Fallen In The Land Of White", "Face Down In Crytsals", "Fading In Night"). Those twisted, slightly atonal guitar melodies and chord structures reappear, maudlin and obscured by a faint background din, weaving delicate webs of warped depressing sound, wintry winds whipping around the guitars and keyboards as if this was recorded in a poorly insulated woodshed in the middle of a moderate blizzard. Blasts of freezing wind yeild to solemn Burzumesque dirge backed by those eerie keyboards. Vocals? if they're in there, they are completely obfuscated. It's weird and atmopsheric, shifting from a wobbly, detuned oddness (sot of reminiscent of fellow kiwi Striborg, perhaps?) to spires of low-fi , liturgical black metal magnificence. "Crystals" rumbles out like some kind of raw funereral doom, drum strikes spaced out over a distant roar of black buzz, evoking something like a warped and warbling third-generation micro-cassete reording of a Dead Can Dance concert from 1989 smeared and buried beneath increasingly heavy piles of Skepticism-esque funeral crawl. The closer is gorgeous overcast ambience though, again combining that maudlin piano with swirls of muted, understated winter-synth grandeur.