So, picture the scenario – You’re heavily into your Black Metal, you know all the most important, and highest quality, releases. You hear that a band, featuring ex-members of Thorns, have released their debut album. Not only that, but it has been mixed by none other than Snorre Ruch, himself, the mastermind behind that solitary Thorns full-length that is, a bonafide genre classic. Ruch, is probably best known under his alias, whilst in Mayhem, Blackthorn. Although he didn’t record with the band, he did write some of the lyrics and, some of the better guitar parts, on said group’s benchmark release, “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas”. He was handpicked by Euronymous, himself! With these facts surrounding “Deep Drone Master”, no wonder that there is quite the buzz.
What excites this particular scribe more than anything else though, has to be the involvement of Thorns vocalist, Aldrahn. Although, unmistakeably the same singer from that outfit, here, he is going to repel as much as attract. Why? I’ll get to that later. The actual music The Deathtrip produce is on a different branch of Black Metal altogether. This is one for the second wave fanboys out there. Think “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” era Mayhem, mixed with Darkthrone‘s much lauded, unholy trinity of albums, and a generous amount of their “Panzerfaust” release too. Chuck in some of the more melodic leanings of Marduk, and you are in the right ballpark. That said, composer, guitarist and The Deathtrip conceiver, Host, is for the most part, good at toeing the line between being derivative, and wearing his influences on his sleeve.
Make no mistake though, there are some moments that belong to them, and them alone, and when they hit, they REALLY connect, such as the second half of ‘Sewer Heart’. Exquisite. If Host perhaps, let himself wonder further down avenues like that, he could be onto something pretty special indeed. Perhaps he might in the future.
Songs like ‘Cosmic Verdict’ and ‘A Foot in Each Hell’, undoubtedly bow down to the likes of Euronymous and Blackthorn, listen, and you wont be able to miss it. The latter, literally, could have been an unreleased bonus track from Mayhem‘s debut album, if it didn’t have Aldrahn‘s vocals. If you told me that it was, I’d have believed you. By the way, this is not a negative thing, not when done this well. It is great to hear a band with ‘trve’ Black Metal pedigree, making some stuff that could could have been recorded in 1993, and doing it well. It is just that with a vocalist as weird and wonderful as Host has at his disposal, he should utilize him to better effect. On three of the album’s tracks, the pace is slowed right down, and this is where the band and the voice really shine, for me at least. ‘Something Growing in the Trees’, verges on Blackened Doom Metal, and is arguably the highpoint of “Deep Drone Master”. Aldrahn is allowed to bring to the fore the overly-dramatic edge he has in his arsenal. The track is creepy, unsettling and brilliant. More of this would not go a miss, next time, hopefully.
Aldrahn may be the star here but, as mentioned earlier, his vocal melodrama could be too much for some. I’ll be very honest, so different is his approach here compared to the Thorns material, it took me about three or four listens before I could work out whether I was enjoying him this time around. Turns out, I love it. Be warned though.
A far as debuts go, this is definitely solid, if a little searching. If you class yourself as a Black Metal devotee then check it out sooner, rather than later.