Germany’s THE RUINS OF BEVERAST have returned with a new dark adventure titled The Thule Grimoires. This prodigious Black/Doom project of Alexander von Meilenwald is known for its dense compositions and diverse conceptual soundscapes. Beginning with the raw, depressive Blackness of Unlock the Shrine and progressing to the spaced-out psychedelic Shamanism of Exuvia, each release is its own thematic exploration. This creative vision continues on The Thule Grimoires, which ventures beyond the farthest Northern regions into an imaginative realm of ancient magic and primal savagery. THE RUINS OF BEVERAST convey this grimness through doom-laden riffing along with an experimental blend of industrial, atmospheric, and Gothic elements with the result being a highly immersive experience.
This mysterious journey begins strangely on “Ropes into Eden” with industrial and atmospheric sounds that are simultaneously alien and ancient. An imposing doom that kicks off reveals a guitar sound that’s comparatively nastier than Exuvia’s while harsh vocals enter to complete the blackened sound. The chaotic void manifests with a flurry of disembodied spoken samples during an atmospheric interlude before clean melodies merge into a catchy groove with a wall of slow dirge. Somber vocals enhance the melancholy before the song’s brutal elements resurface along with soaring melodic keys. It then dissipates with oceanic and spectral sounds leading into “The Tundra Shines.” Tribal voices summon a primordial vibe on this song, and a nightmarish effect is also induced with dark atmospherics and deep monstrous vocals that parallel the bellowing of the guitars. The complexity of this and the other songs is furthered by elements and transitions that include vocals ranging from blackened harsh to clean and dismal, tempo variations, atmospheric hooks, and riff progressions.
“Kromlec’h Knell” mirrors this structure with its own diverse sounds along with a chorus that exemplifies the album’s Gothic influence. It ends with ritualistic chants and drumming that give way to an atmospheric/industrial-fueled hallucinatory ambience on “Mammothpolis.” Clean guitars and other effects prolong this trip until crushing riffs return accompanied by a range of choral and energetic vocals. The beginning of “Anchoress in Furs” is marked with female vocals that reek of antiquity, and a melancholic tone later develops with tremolo melodies and dismal vocals. Sections of ritualistic drums with rhythmic riffing, slow groove, psychedelia, and other effects continue shaping intricate layers throughout the song’s progression.
“Polar Hiss Hysteria” stands out for its relative ferocity and use of harmonics on a spacey riff and solo. It ends with the sounds of some creature in a desolate Northern cave ripping flesh from the bones of its prey. The mournful vocals and guitars on “Deserts to Bind and Defeat” communicate submission to a bitter end, and the album’s preceding elements drive this final track toward its climactic melody and flow. The atmosphere fades with eerie atmospheric and psychedelic effects after a final invocatory passage.
Ultima Thule is further developed and brought to life through the album’s lyrics. “Ropes into Eden” describes an oceanic abyss while referencing humanity’s fall with “Lest the tree of life decays; Thus, as the hadal turns edenwards we place our cherubim east of a shipwreck.” Ghostly visions are captured on “The Tundra Shines” along with scenery from this mythical realm as “spectral voices welcome dusk in the Tundra” and “our vision returns in horror: these bloodpainted canvases of the Arctic!”
Horrific visions continue with “a pack of phantom predators, lured by coldest sweat,” and in a marsh where “weighted bodies decay in mires” on “Kromlec’h Knell.” Other lyrics in this song suggest it’s about demise resulting from deception and faulty beliefs. This theme returns on “Polar Hiss Hysteria” as “many have come to be slain upon the altar of ice, many that imagined footprints of God” despite “a grim warning not to leave the village when the polar night falls.” Survival in this realm seems to depend on following natural logic and instincts while resisting illusory influences that lead astray. While inevitably succumbing to its harshness on “Deserts to Bind and Defeat,” an unwavering pride is expressed with “been denied the gift that sears; been ripping out teeth, to demonize the soul for a pride untold” and “we must have scorned the sun till our instincts failed.”
THE RUINS OF BEVERAST have crafted another work of epic darkness with The Thule Grimoires. It combines industrial and Gothic influences with their Black/Doom sound to create a primeval and arcane journey through an enchanting Arctic realm. The futility in attempting to dissect all its dense atmospheric layers in this review would equal that of surviving the treacherous world portrayed within. Many listens are required to fully appreciate this album, but it’s a worthwhile endeavor to engage the perilous quest and uncover the hidden gems it has to offer. THE RUINS OF BEVERAST expectedly produced a captivating adventure with The Thule Grimoires, and it’s an exploration that further expands the fringes of their sound.