Terratur Possessions, early June 2017
Composer and musician V. Einride and his guttural companion K.R are back with their first full-length.
I've heard these doomsday-poems, or Dommedagskvad, a significant number of times, but I've been struggling finding the right words. I probably spent all clichés in the book in connection with the delightful EP The Worship of Idols Instead of God; Idolatry.
We're still talking adversarial loathing and merciless damnation, and although I might lean ever so slightly toward the EP, these diabolic poems have grown reluctantly strong.
Aggressive metal, black as frostbitten limbs in boiling tar, meanders like a lava flow through foreign and unknown landscapes. In full-length format, the mood is given more time. Time to sink its fangs deeper into you. Time for you to sink deeper into fatal hypothermicly waters. Black sea under black sky. When you return with chronic frost-injuries to the soul after looking the essence of Whoredom Rife in the eye, you are pale as a corpse and emotionally scarred. The album radiates a sensation of irreversible psychosocial and emotional harm. A deadlocked frame of mind marked by woe and terminal loss of hope and joie de vivre.
Of course, this is pitch black metal of the old school. A friend, and a near autistic black metal fan, pointed out similarities between Whoredom Rife and early Keep of Kalessin, which is a compliment considering that the latter was once a very proficient act in the field of tnbm and one of Nidaros' first black metal bands. And yes, there are stylistic similarities to the latter's debut, classic Through Times of War. K.R rasps with a beastly obsessed, yet distinctly devilish clarity, not entirely dissimilar to Keep of Kalessin's first vocalist Ghash, and both of these albums are characterized by high technical capability. Funnily enough, Encyclopaedia Metallum actually specifies that these two are not the same person, meaning such rumours must have been spreading, although the vocal really ain't that similar.
The duo once again does a solid job conveying antagonistic disgust draped in pessimistic melancholy through raven black vocal and magnificent instrumentation; Mighty and wild as inhospitable mountains. Like rough mountain ranges, the music is also varied and untamed but at the same time unwavering and stouthearted. Each song has its unmistakable identity and they can easily be separated from each other. At the same time, the six songs - following an intro calling its worshippers to an ungodly mass - are stylistically related, and the quality is so even that I choose to refrain from mentioning names or highlighting individual segments.
The storm is still blowing with unabated intensity. Dommedagskvad is like a zealous, vile and infamous doomsday prophet who doggedly forcasts perdition and demise as he burns all bridges on his downward spiral deeper into despair, depravity and isolation.
The release date has been postponed somewhat due amongst other to relocation of Terratur Possessions, but the album has been sent from the pressing plant, and the album is expected to be released in early June. Check out Beyond The Skies Of God and Svik, and make a note on your shopping list. Rating: 5+
Debemur Morti Productions, 19.05.17
Five years after the previous album, time is finally ripe for a revisit by Dødsengel. The band hasn't been lazy, although they haven't been in a hurry either, but have rather spent a lot of time creating a strange work that combines eclectic black ingredients with a bizarre ethereal atmosphere.
The writing process started just after the release of Imperator (2012), and the recording started at the end of 2014. The results stands out a great deal from the majority and is worth the wait.
Welcome to Interequinox.
The band consists of Malach Adonai (ex-Saligia) on drums, and Kark on vocals and other instruments. This line-up has been stable throughout their ten-year history. In addition to three previous albums, the band has four EPs, two splits and a compilation behind them. I know the band best from the Mirium Occultum (2010) album as well as the Capax Infiniti split (2014), but sadly I missed out on the 150-minute sequel, the album where they first ventured from primitive rawness to esoteric occultism. Dødsengel literally trannslates to Death-Angel, but a more common interpretation would be Angel of Death.
The duo may always have dealt with the subject of esoteric spiritualism for all I know, but they had never let the otherworldly spiritual aspect take that big a part in their compositional universe. I wish I knew how existing fans reacted, but I don't. By moving in new directions where artistic freedom is a bigger goal than the end product itself, one distance oneself from from whatever trend is dominating, while accepting the related risk. Perhaps not a big risk, since that kind of artistic integrity is mostly regarded as respectable. At the same time, it makes one stand out, although that's not necessarily part of the agenda. However, this side effect may result in greater attention. Let's as such flippantly call it commercial success despite a non-commercial motive.
The nonconformists take said esoteric spiritualism to a slightly higher degree with Interequinox. Or so I believe. My basis for comparison is rather thin. They serve a short hour of black melancholy and hallucinatory dreamy moods. The music is somewhat theatrical, with a lot of strange vocal styles and a shitload of details and techniques woven together into a form of schizophrenic coherence. Everything from black ire, through progressive sequences, to beautiful melody lines whiz off as loose sheets of notes in the whirlwind.
The volume is unusually low, which ironically gives a very good dynamic range (DR11-DR12). No, the album ain't no loudness war brickwall, but if the whole volume is equally low, there is also no great dynamics in the volume, right? An absolute weakness in measuring audio dynamics. The sound is otherwise a bit intense and rumbling when you have finally cranked it up properly. At least, you can be pretty sure there's no clipping.
I have a taste for Dødsengel's distinctive psychedelic dramaturgy with strange elements that don't really belong in black metal, but than again I am also halfway versatile, with a taste for the remarkably remarkable. As long as the peculiarity ain't too far out. Okay, my flexibility may be somewhat limited, but Interequinox is in any case an exciting new acquaintance. An acquaintance that is fucking difficult to grade as quality and appeal vary from song to song and sequence to sequence. In my ears, the album is actually at its best when the traditional brute force calms in favour of for more progressive and melodic passages, and strident vocals gives leeway to semi-extreme or clean vocals. Rubedo is a good example, only; the song wouldn't have worked without the width, the dynamics and the contrast in the rest of the material. I find that Interequinox isn't the easiest album to wrap my head around, but at least it's an album where I really enjoy trying. Rating: 4
Independent, 26.10.16/Pest Productions, XX.07.17
To all appearances, Norwegian Glittertind has forsaken those who enjoy folk-metal, by developing to far from its roots. We still had Myrkgrav, though. Until Lars Jensen last fall announced the disbanding of his one-man band.
The title of the album translates to “Thank you, and farewell; times have changed”, and with this last regards, Myrkgrav dies out with the banner held high.
This is the last chapter in the saga of Myrkgrav. Released digitally over half a year ago, and scheduled to be released physically this summer.
Takk og farvel; tida er blitt ei annen is an album that contains nine new compositions and five older songs. A nice mix of new, old and newly recorded ones can give associations to compilations, though this this ain't one. It doesn't sound disjointed and splaying like some of them do, either.
Vonde auer, originally released as single in early 2015, and the songs Sjuguttmyra and Uttjent, released on EP in 2013, have been restored with silk gloves. The difference from the originals is not significant, but a marginal improvement is sensible, especially in terms of less clipping. In addition, we find new-recorded 10th anniversary edition of Om å danse bekhette and Finnkjerringa from the debut Trollskau, skrømt og kølabrenning (2006). Both of the new versions make for a nice listen, though I still prefer the original version of the former especially, as the vocal was devilish, the guitar raw and the drums frenetically blast-beating. Even the choir-embossed clean vocals had a more grand feel to it, while it now appear more naked and mournful. That's not wrong either. Especially given the macabre story behind the historical lyrics, where a young boy is scalped by tearing of skin and hair to remove scab.
Besides these 25 minutes, Takk og farvel consist of 40 minutes of new music, of which the song Skjøn jomfru is found in both Norwegian and English versions. Together with the already mentioned songs, as well as the new songs Soterudsvarten and Tørrhard, two tough folk-metallers, this constitutes all the material with lyrics. The remaining five songs are great instrumental tracks with frequent incorporation of beautiful Hardanger fiddle.
Another noticeable change to the newly restored version of Sjuguttmyra is that Bernt Fjellestad from Guardians of Time (and new vocalist in Susperia) has sung the clean vocal lines. Another guest is Nordvang from Blåhø (we're waiting for new material in anticipation!) And Quadrivium, in which Lars Jensen is still involved. Although there's not been much going on in that band recently either, unfortunately. The most important guest, however, is without doubt fiddler Olav Mjelva, who performs live with both Myrkgrav and Wardruna.
The Hardanger fiddle, as opposed to other fiddles and violins, has four to five resonance strings underneath the four top strings, which gives it a very distinctive and straight out amazing sound. The instrument has a central part in the album's expression, and lends a very Norwegian zest to Myrkgrav's folk-based compositions. Olav has also been much more involved than what your typical guest musician would normally be. Both during the composition of the music and in connection with the production. The sound is nice and clear, and spaciously dynamic with adequate punch.
Takk og farvel; tida er blitt ei annen is an album that should have a very broad appeal. It ends with the short and wistful fiddle instrumental Takk og farvel - thanks and goodbye. Whether or not a creative musician will be able to stay away from composing is a whole nother story. Only time will tell. I sort of feel we'll hear from Lars again in one form or another. Thank you, Lars, and welcome back in some form or another! Rating: 5
Blasphemy Halls, 12.05&Folter Records, 25.02.17
German Streams of Blood was formed in 2009, and has released three albums. We hereby take a closer look at the last two.
Allgegenwärtig was released a few months ago, and I've been spinning it quite a few time without putting anything on paper until now. Ultimate Destination was released in February 2013, but was recently remastered and re-released.
Thus it's only natural I kill two birds with one stone.
In retrospect to the release of Ultimate Destination, the band experienced dissatisfaction regarding the sound. After Allgegenwärtig came out, and the duo received good feedback, they impulsively decided to remaster their sophomore album to gain a richer sound. Black metal thrives at the extremes, so also what the temperature of the sound concerns. Where some prefer it Arctic cold, this band's black metal is wrapped in glowing flames of hell's fire. It still sounds cutting, but not quite as thin and sharp as on the original.
Ultimate Destination MMXVII, as the re-release is titled, is negatively inclined by gloomy and misanthropic moods, but it's also frenetic and warlike in line with for instance Marduk. There is nothing ground-breaking about the band's expression, but for fans of orthodox hateful sonic statements, that shouldn't be an inconvenience. The quality is good and the lava flow roar like a waterfall with no fucking frills.
Like their very first album, The Descent to the Source of Disorder (2011), BloodHammer (Belphegor) handles the drums, and through barely three quarters of an hour, the band offers solid and aggressive crossfire.
With Allgegenwärtig, the Germans prove once and for all that coal-black metal can just as well be performed with thundering bass, though the sound can actually be excessively bellowing and resounding. The music still keeps high pace with drums clattering like a brick in the tumble dryer. Occasionally, however, the speed is lowered somewhat to allow space for moods of discouragement and disgust.
BloodHammer has been replaced with Terrorin (ex-Darkest Horizon), who also does a fine job, even though the drumming is not quite as striking. Band chief Thymos (ex-Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult) takes care of vocals and strings, and seems to have improved his black voice since last time.
Allgegenwärtig is a bit more evil, yet less warlike, and it's hard to pick out a favourite between the two. If I was forced to choose, I think I would have gone with this one. Grading this is not too easy, though. Both albums shine with contempt, and I think both are quite killer, but at the same time neither originality nor substance stab very deeply. I'm just follow my gut here, yet I'm also holding back a bit. You decide what you think. Rating: 4+