If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that when it comes to old school, thrashy black metal, you can usually count on Brazil to deliver. Patria’s newest, ‘Individualism’, is just that- roughly 42 minutes of blackened nostalgia, but with interesting modern additions. Plus it features a lyric about “eternal winter.” It doesn’t get much more fucking black metal than that!
‘Individualism’ is framed by two Latin choral tracks, and while this intro/outro suggest a classical feel, the rest of the album is pure blistering blast beats and breakneck pace. The first formal track, “Blood Storm Prophecy,” provides an excellent introduction to the rest of the album with a quick-tempoed opening and a mid-pace chorus that is great for banging your head to.
“Outrage” is one of my favorite tracks on the album, as it’s mostly mid-tempo pace often slips into good old fashioned tremolo picking and blast beats. This, I believe, is Individualism’s strength-old school riffs seasoned with modern black metal makes for an interesting approach to the genre. Likewise, “Orphan of Emptiness” utilizes some of these same effects, culminating in a really cool chant that is surprisingly melodic (seriously. Where did I leave my tankard?).
The oddly named “Your Rotten Heart Dies Now” is probably the most unconventional song on the album in that it borrows from more mainstream metal of the kind that black metal usually shuns, particularly in the strident guitar feature in the beginning. However, this track also incorporates some really interesting guitar harmonies, utilizing broken chords in conjunction with tremolo picking in the counterpoint. “God’s Entombment” is probably my favorite track on the album as it mixes the old school feel that Patria does so well with dissonant thrumming reminiscent of the noisy French black metal that I’m so into at the moment. So much kvlt in one track!
I really love the cover art for ‘Individualism’, even if I’m not sure what it represents (to the band and the artist. I have my own ideas). The figure in the center is demonic looking, and the image of the boat looks like Charon rowing his ferry. Writing that out makes me think of Watain’s “The Waters of Ain,” and the concept of death as water, a return to a dark and chaotic womb. The background certainly evokes a feeling of chaos with its twisted, thorny design, but also nature is present in the trees.
Honestly, the production is probably the only thing I don’t like about this album. It’s too good-black metal fans, you get my drift. For something as old-school sounding as ‘Individualism’, I crave rawness and low-fi production. Likewise, the vocals are a little too high in the mix for my tastes. They stick out, and I tend to prefer more balance. I understand, though, why the production is as clean as it is. In order to hear that cool counterpoint in the different guitar harmonies, it needs a clearer sound; those harmonies would get lost in fuzz otherwise.
I really like this album, and I have to say, Brazil has done it again. Patria’s managed to create an album that incorporates styles from all manner of subgenres, black metal and otherwise, yet still retain the fury of old n’ cold black metal.