Expulse is the second album release from Russian one man black metal act Stielas Storhett. The 2011 features seven tracks of avant-garde inclined melodic black metal. That means plenty of acoustic guitars, melodic leads and even some saxophone. The project is all the work of musician Damian T.G. It is the first album release since the 2006 debut Vandrer... although Stielas Storhett has been far from quiet in the time since the debut, releasing a split and an EP in 2008 and 2010 respectively.
Though the album has avant-garde leanings the music doesn’t have any massive amounts of downright weirdness, in fact it’s got a lot of clarity in its direction. This is far from typical black metal either although the approach to the black metal in it should definitely appeal to even the more die hard black metal fans through use of really tortured vocals and a professional yet still somewhat raw and atmospheric production.
Opening with the sounds of a woman screaming and some really dark tones, the album really throws you off what to expect when almost straight away it strips everything else back to make way for the acoustic guitar. Brief as this little passage is, it’s a good indicator that Expulse is going to be far from a predictable and generic package. There are plenty of eyebrow raising moments throughout the album when the music switches from pretty harsh black metal to something more melodic, with another noteworthy case being when the saxophone is brought out in the final two tracks, Expulse, and Angel of Death.
The vocals aren’t the most decipherable I’ve ever heard, since Damian T.G. is in possession of a tortured black metal growl as mentioned above, but sometimes he switches to a cleaner whisper like vocal style. I can’t really understand a word that comes out of his mouth even then, but that’s okay, since the vocal is used here not so much for singing along as in more mainstream musical styles, even metal ones, but like another instrument, and one that really adds to Expulse’s dark atmosphere. All Paths Lead to Oblivion is a track that showcases all the really great aspects of the album, which also includes use of melodic guitar leads and often very prominent bass guitar.
The lighter material in the album, something also showcased in All Paths Lead to Oblivion, is of an equal quality to the metal, and the acoustic guitar playing is actually one of the biggest highlights of the release, as it manages to give Damian T.G.’s compositions much more depth than they would if he were content to thrash away with his black metal riffs and shrieked vocals. The track Hush-a-bye is the shortest piece on the album and another excellent melodic interlude that really shows how dark the atmosphere is even when there isn’t much metal involved (the track is about three quarters of the way in before any metal starts building up again).
Expulse is a really great album from Stielas Storhett. Because of its nature it took me a few listens to really appreciate it, but having given it several listens I find that what we have here is no less than masterful and more unique sounding black metal than what many acts routinely deliver. Expulse comes very highly recommended!
(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven, scored at 9.0/10)