Zuriaake’s (romanized from 葬尸湖, roughly translated Sepulture Corpse Lake) first album Afterimage of Autumn was released in 2007. It has some exceptional qualities, for this Chinese Black metal band is not mimicing Norwegian Black Metal sound but taken excepts from Chinese culture to their metal mixture. Their Black metal focuses on entwining natural atmospherics, ambience with very overdriven guitars and depressive black metal vibe.
山神 / God Of Scotch Mist starts the album with delicate and lovely instrumentation that turns into a lot of punch and sets a suitable depressingly heavy undertone but also introduces a lot of worthy melody work. Zuriaake creates a lot of shamanistic ritual feel in their tracks and God of Scotch Mist is probably the finest piece. In the mid-part of the record the songs turn slower and oftentimes you could argue it is ambient with distortion guitars. But guitar-tremolos, occasional blastbeats and vocals reminiscent of depressive black metal prove that the band is not here just to float around.
In the albums most stunning moment the chorus of 歸兮 / Return Journey Zuriaake seamlessly adds a traditional sounding Chinese tremolo melody to a slow doomy basis. Tell me this is not (un)divine. Unfortunately I could not pick the name of this guitar like string instrument as the booklet is all in Chinese (except track titles).
The album is an extremely well flowing entity but it could have more highlights. One of them is the title tracks somber pace and wind-instrument and piano melodies. It has a feel so close to nature it’s incredible especially considering that the piano and woodwind sounds aren’t perfect. On the other hand the next song 暮林 / Forest Of Twilight is very similar in nature but does not seem to go anywhere. 荒山 / Desolated Mountain then seems to consist of two songs, first near-shoegazing with bloodthirsty shrieks all the sudden turning into a solid mid-paced black metal track only to end ambiently again.
The use of delicate abnormal black metal flavours adds so much essence to this release. Even though the release is sometimes so shoegazing it’s on the verge of boring, the atmosphere and unique Asian black metal elements redeem a lot of it. It is also a grower that gets better with time and does not reveal its secrets easy.
Also kudos to their label Pest Productions who not only sent the double LP I ordered in a beautiful packet but also included 2 cd’s as extras! Split with Yn Gizarm – 悲赋之秋 / 司命楼兰 (Autumn of Sad Ode / Siming of Loulan) and Winter Mirage Ep. Both stellar releases, at its best Yn Gizarm can be downright stunning. The vinyl version also includes Winter Mirage EP and a couple of remastered tracks from the split.
I am starting to sound like a marketing person, but I can’t stress enough that if you feel that you’ve heard it all when it comes to Black metal, China has an answer you.