December 11, 2019

Carpathian Forest - Black Shining Leather (1998)

Country: Norway
Language: English
Genre: Black Metal
Label Number: AV031
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© 1998 Avantgrade Music
Review by "Goat" for Metal
Following up the excellent Through Chasm, Caves And Titan Woods EP nasty Norwegians Carpathian Forest released their debut album in 1998, six years since the band formed in 1992, and in many ways it’s a classic of the genre. Nattefrost and Nordavind were joined by drummer Lars Nedland, and the trio created one of the most original artefacts of true Norwegian Black Metal to come from the late nineties. Even if you despise the band for their later tongue-in-cheek Punk antics, you must admit that Black Shining Leather is excellent, a landmark release for the band and the genre. Everything about this album, from the production to the songs and even the skilful if hardly uber-technical musicianship, is original and fascinating, still holding up over ten years later and without a doubt the best thing that the band ever did. If you’re coming straight from Through Chasm... then you’ll be in for a surprise the moment that first track Black Shining Leather kicks in with lustful whispers and orgasming women, before the guitars arise and the attack begins. Unusually, the bass is clearly audible, and even better is its place in the production, not obscuring the other instruments but existing independently, giving the Thrashy assault depth and heaviness. As fans of later Carpathian Forest will know, the band are quite capable of writing maddeningly catchy songs and this album is no exception, it being pretty damn near impossible to avoid headbanging throughout.
If you want a taste of this album, then The Swordsman is the first point of call. Varied riffing, unashamedly catchy, it’s headbang fodder for the corpsepainted set, and even the breakdowns are perfect, yet it’s the moment when all stops and some wonderfully atmospheric synths start to drift across the raging music like distant clouds that’s truly jaw-dropping. These gorgeous keyboards continue into Death Triumphant, which is reminiscent of early Enslaved with added groove and is just one of many enjoyable tracks present that use all the instruments to their fullest. It’s hard to see how anyone could resist the mid-paced pounding of Sadomasochistic (with surprisingly deep and intelligent lyrics) or the oddly bouncy In Silence I Observe. Even mid-album interlude Lupus is effective, eerie synths and whispers creating a spooky atmosphere that is completely shattered when Pierced Genitalia rages in – ‘the toes that you step on today/May be connected to the ass you’ll be kissing tomorrow!’
Black Shining Leather is an excellent mixture of styles, really. Lunar Nights is so wonderfully sombre and restrained after the catchy madness of In Silence I Observe that it hits perfectly, the build-up to the speedy end gripping. Little touches like the whooshing electronics on Third Attempt work brilliantly, and the acoustically-enhanced The Northern Hemisphere is like a more sophisticated Burzum, but it’s the cover of The Cure’s A Forest that really puts the mark of quality on this album. A brave move for the band, especially considering how similar it is to the original, yet the overall atmosphere is darker and enhanced by the Black Metal vocals here and there. Sadly, it’s only available on the digipack rerelease, but it’s more than worth it; as is this album, a vital part of any Black Metal collection and the one vital Carpathian Forest purchase.

tags: carpathian forest, black shining leather, 1998, flac,


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