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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

I Shalt Become - Awakenings [Moribund Records - 2021]

Here we have a welcome CD reissue of Awakenings- the debut album from I Shalt Become, one of the lesser-known though still important & fairly distinctive bands from the early 90’s USBM scene. The band’s sound is very much in a depressive black metal setting, with the pace moving from slow to mid. But what makes it stand out from the run-of-the-mill of this sub-genre, is the well written/ memorable riffs, the grimly shredding vocals, and a general feeling of authentic and eternal bleakness.

I Shalt Become formed in 1995 in Illinois- it’s the one-man black metal project of S. Holliman, though since 2010 there’s has been the addition of A. J. Scherer on drums. The bands' influences were Burzum and fellow USBM band Judas Iscariot- and though you can clearly hear both in the band’s sound, they do add their own identity/ grim flare to the whole depressive BM sound. In between 1998 and 2013, the project released six full-lengths.

Awakenings originally appeared in the year 1998, as a self-released tape, which of course predates the likes of classic depressive USBM band Leviathan. In 2006 the album got its first CD release on Moribund Records- and as far as I can gather this reissue is a reissue of that- as we get the eleven tracks from the original tape, plus three cover versions- one Burzum and two from Judas Iscariot.
 
After a minute and a half intro of glumly simmering clear guitar work we kick into the track “Fragments”- here we find bluntly slugging riffing, steady crushing drums, bayed grim whispers, and waving forlorn guitar harmonics. We have the tolling ‘n’ ringing discordant grim-ness of “Winter Lights” which is shifted by bayed and shredded shrieks. There’s the slurred clear ‘n’ bleakly distorted guitars of “Thorns”- with its awkward and pained vocals, and hints simmering ambient forlornness. Or the simmering bleak tremolo meets crawling bayed vocals of “Her Demons” which features some great sombrely woozy guitar scaping, and barrenly slugging drum work.
 
The three bonus tracks are also worth a play too with I Shalt Become adding their own twist to each. There’s "En Ring Til Aa Herske" from Burzum second album, with the backing vocals been most effective coming off much wonkier 'n' ghoulish than the original, also the lead riff is a lot rawer and barrenly tolling too. The CD leads out with "I Filled With Woes The Passing Wind..." from Judas Iscariot second album- this take on the track adds in more gloomy simmered-to-forking feedback to proceedings.
 
In finishing it’s great to see Awakenings back in print once more, and if you enjoy raw & grimly fuzzed depressive Black metal, then you need to be picking this up. Let's hope Moribund Records reissue the other two I Shalt Become they released down the line- 2008’s Requiem, and 2010’s Poison.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Roger Batty
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