Realmbuilder play a minimalist style of heavy metal, but what is minimalism to heavy metal? It is a term we append almost reflexively to black metal and certain forms of death metal, but to heavy metal? The expansive and note-dense nature of the extreme strains means that instrumental sparseness or shortcomings are papered over in favor of composition and ignored quite readily by listeners. Heavy metal, however, has no such concessions working in its corner; dodgy songwriting and a placid playing style stick out like a sore thumb and make the listening process near-insufferable (look no further than the many stoner doom bands doing the rounds today).
Cirith Ungol are perhaps the closest comparison I can make in relation to Realmbuilder. Not because they sound alike, but because they have the same stripped down and intensely individualistic approach to writing heavy metal. Realmbuilder, as befits their name, are more focused on developing epic, monolithic atmosphere through their music. Theirs is a strange sum of influences; if you can imagine a black metal mindset transposed onto a heavy metal and 70s prog-rock aesthetic, married to a singer who sounds a dead ringer for Tom Verlaine of Television, you would be getting somewhere in the ballpark, but still be fumbling in broad daylight.
Blue Flame Cavalry carries an aspect of the Renaissance Fair about it, but I don’t mean that as any insult. The vibe I get from this album is nothing if not refreshing; this duo, working within obvious technical limitations, give free rein to their imaginations. The cynical among us may say they have no choice but to, and they wouldn’t be wrong in saying it, but I think the whole is great commentary on working with what you have, and on how much can be accomplished if intentions are sincere. And that of itself is worth taking this project’s occasional missteps in stride.