Female vocals in black metal - is this some symphonic, polished gothic black metal? No, quite the opposite this time, because Anguished’s debut album ”Cold” offers some piercingly freezing underground black metal with some of the most abhorrent and tortured vocal screeches that I’ve had the pleasure to listen to, and yes, this is a positive thing, and the disgusting howls are coming out of a woman who also handles all the instruments - except the drums that are battered by a session member - on this album.
Musically, Anguished seems to revolve around two somewhat different but definitely connected areas: while songs like ”These Gray Days” attack with relentless old school power, such tracks as the 8-minute ”September Nights” and ”The Last Trip” lean more clearly to sorrowful, depressive melodies and atmospheres. The spine-chilling, malicious invocations of ”Come to Me Satan” could be said to be somewhere between the two approaches, belonging to the record’s standout moments.
The album lives up to its name, and most certainly so when it comes to the utterly raw production, perhaps headache-inducing to some. The bass guitar does exist here but the freezing guitar sound is much more dominating, as are the slashing cymbals and the pounding snare drum - not to even mention again the inhumane vocals spewing out Satanic and suicidal lyrics. Mercy is not given until the final track, introducing ’normal’ chanting female vocals above the clean guitar sound - though a little surprise does happen at the very last seconds.
Hands down, ”Cold” belongs to the most surprising debuts of this year, and not only because of the unique vocal delivery, but also due to the qualified compositions that make the album a coherent whole: none of the tracks seem out of place. Only two tracks - ”Tired” and ”Verivala” - fail to rise to the level of the others but we aren't still talking about any bad material at all. Those who can digest such a raw production and enjoy Arkha Sva / old Cradle of Filth esque vocals, don’t hesitate to check this out.