AFTERMATH MUSIC, 27.03.15 NettleCarrier debuted with a self-titled album in 2012. An album which had a partly traditional black metal
touch, but also some escapades, and a somewhat untraditional sound, which gave a fairly idiosyncratic expression.
The band was founded by guitarist T. Ciekals (Djevel, Ljå) and vocalist/bassist
Mannevond (Djevel, Koldbrann) in 2005. Two years later they hired Dirge Rep
(Orcustus, Djevel, ex-Enslaved) to beat the skin, and they released their first EP.
Everyone is, as you see, involved in Djevel, where they make up ¾ of the band. They were actually planning
to dissolve NettleCarrier to concentrate fully on Djevel, but creative artists sometimes need
multiple channels as outlet for their creative whims.
To begin with the most negative, which (purely subjective) is the sound. It falls slightly between two chairs.
It's got a little too deep sound with noticeable, though not directly marked, bass to appear as especially cold.
NettleCarrier's aptly infernal offspring of black metal would have benefited from a sound more in line with
Djevel's Besatt av Maane og Natt. Now, I'm not so uniform that I need a certain kind of sound.
NettleCarrier also delivers mightier songs with arrogant attitude that would have suited a bigger production,
but the trio don't succeed completely at that either, as the sound becomes a bit woolly. Amongst others, portions of the
frequency spectre of the bass drums drowns somewhat in the sound some places, giving an almost tragicomic thud-thud-thud
effect. Hear for example the first half of Smoke, Poison and Will.
But then there's this thing called personal preferences. Some will surely think that this production emphasizes the vile,
repugnant, sadistic and satanic attitude NettleCarrier exhibits.
It took time – a disproportionately long time – to get used to the sound. Once it sinks in and seats, I
eventually agrees a bit more with that opinion.
Yet, personally, I lean a bit towards the view that the song material don't get to showcase their full potential,
which is a pity, as the guys have a great deal of alright songs and ideas in store this time. In general I think it's a
bit odd that so experienced guys decide to go for this kind of production, but then again there was this thing about
individual preferences and the purpose of the sound and expression. The dynamic range is nevertheless very good.
For the longest, I was thinking about moaning and cavilling a little bit more, if only on a nitpick scale. The
material seemed a clue uneven, as the quality from song to song varies somewhat. The weakest tracks feels somewhat mediocre
set against the better songs. It nevertheless becomes a bit exaggerating to to say that the album is wobbly for the reason.
On the positive side there is nothing positive with Black Coffin Rites, and that's good, for this is
black metal and naive emotions such as joy and well-being don't belong in the black cauldron.
Songs like Uten Gud (Without God) and Noctem Aeternum reek of gunpowder, but let's
rather quickly race through all seven tracks. Bloodmoon start kind of odd, but after a few minutes moving into really gloomy and threatening landscapes.
All in all a strong song, which passes into said Uten Gud. This has a reckless, hateful and dystopian
touch with highly regarded traces of eclectic French madness. Great playing and lovely psyche vocal effects. Even subsequent
The Bones and Flesh of Hanged Men continues some of the frenetic inhospitable. Smoke, Poison and
Will are in excess staccato, and just doesn't appeal. Commanding Spirit begins in the middle of
the road, but is broken up by a quite rough middle section, before it returns to a middling expression. Also The
Dawn Grew Pale With Our Poisons runs straight on, in rather trivial and beaten paths, before it suddenly calms down
and offers melodies of ghastly sort. The song improves somewhat in the second half, but nevertheless becomes somewhat imperfect.
Noctem Aeternum concludes sharp and edgy in the best possible way, with pitch black and ungodly moods.
The album, and each song is fitted with descent variety, although the structuring ain't particularly exciting. The three
guys undoubtedly have a lot of inherent devilry of the qualitative kind to them. Mannevond seems to have
his throats full of razor blades. His voice is so insanely sharp and hostile that it seems to rent the night like a fierce
bolt of lightning. His bass is however somewhat tainted by fuzzy sound. Dirge Rep's got full control behind
the drums, of course, although he sometimes delivers fairly monotonous rhythms. That the drums isn't as distinguishable in
the mix as they should be (to my ears at least), is not something I'm going to blamed him for. T. Ciekals
seems to know his things to the fingertips, and there is a plethora of cool melody lines that's solid as granite on the album.
I had high expectations for Black Coffin Rites, and is thus a clue disappointed. Lots work as hell, but it
lacks a bit here and there. The trio's relentless and mildly chaotic expression emerges as a clue direction-less and disorderly.
I know I'm harsh now, but Norwegian black metal has a proud heritage to keep alive, and I expect a bit from experienced
devil-worshipping gentlemen, after all. Thus, I can't stretch further than a somewhat weak four points, unfortunately.
PS: The guys released the album Saa Raa og Kald with Djevel on the same label just ten days after the
release of Black Coffin Rites.
(Digression: not long ago I, heard some spoken vocals on some new album that gave strong associations to something I
failed to place. When I finally figured out that it derives from the song Mørkefødt on Djevel's début
Dødssanger, I of-fucking-course couldn't remember what band triggered the association in the fucking first place).
SEASON OF MIST, 20.04.15
The Ukrainian quartet where all members also constitute the whole crew in Rattenfänger and 4/5
of Blood of Kingu, is out with a new dose of mid-tempo black metal with pleasurable atmospheres.
The release pace has declined somewhat over the years, something that is also quite common when a band has passed its
first ten years. The band started in 2002 used to release an album a year, whereas now it is three years since the last
album. We have received other signs of life in the meantime though, in terms of both a split and a compilation last year.
When Drudkh is now out with their tenth disc, they really give you value for your greens. Most of their
albums have been around forty minutes long (plus/minus). A Furrow Cut Short clocks in at almost an hour,
thus providing plenty of time to sink into their universe.
Those acquainted with Drudkh know, for better or worse, roughly what they have in store. The band has
always altered their expression and contents through the years, but the foundation has largely been a pleasant form of
atmospheric monotony. This time I sense something in the vein of Eternal Turn of the Wheel (2012),
Microcosmos (2009) og Estrangement (2007), to position A Furrow Cut Short
a bit in the discography landscape.
The music has a rather slow progress in the melody lines, as guitar grips and chords don't change too often, giving a
certain post-black feeling. The rapid tremolo riffing on the other side provides a more intense flavour. The atmosphere
and the steady flood of “post-intense-black-metal” creates a pleasant, dreamy and hypnotic mood.
If I'm going to pick at something it is that I miss the regional folk elements, and other local singularity from albums
such as Autumn Aurora (2004) and Blood in Our Wells (2006). Elements that completely
prevailed on Songs of Grief and Solitude (2006). Even said Microcosmos was spiced with
progressive twists and acoustic and folkloric passages.
Here, these ingredients are completely absent except for a little occasional low-key use of violin and piano.
The guys still know how to treat the listener to subtle guitar tones hidden in the depths. Ripples that may be difficult
to see in the distance is still there, and creates friction and hooks. Melodies of discrete character waves weak, and
come more to their right as the album gradually creeps under the skin. Some rhythmic eccentricity, like towards the end
of the first track, also helps to keep the listeners interest alive.
Good metal is often like insects in nature. You don't see them at first, but if you're patient, focused and observant,
you will eventually spot many (details).
It should be noted that the growth potential seems to be somewhat limited. At least I feel that most
of it fell into place during the first four rounds or so. The album is musically the most straightforward (as in having
few curves) release the band has made, and the production suits the content very well.
Not the most spectacular album of the Ukrainian trotters in Drudkh, but the lads without a doubt still
deliver comfortable material. Yet another solid four points within a few days.
PS: Kroda, another Ukrainian band with a long history and eccentric folk elements, released their album
Ginnungagap-GinnungaGaldr-GinnungaKaos just ten days later.
FOREVER PLAGUED RECORDS, 20.04.15
This is getting jaw-dropping, but I'll be damned, we're going back to Greece again. It's almost ridiculous how vital the
Hellenic scene is these days.
My first encounter with Cult of Taurus was a split with Erevos Aenaon, released last summer.
With tracks taken from three different minor misc-releases from 2008-2009, it showed slightly varying quality and rather
lamentable sound, thus I never cared enough to cover it. The band was born in 2007, so this was indeed songs from the
demo stage. Meanwhile the band did release their first album,
Divination Labyrinths in 2013.
There is naturally a completely different quality over the craftsmanship of this new album than was the case of the split.
Divination Labyrinths was a good step in the right direction too, but the sound has undergone a metamorphosis
in the eighteen months that have passed since.
The band's black metal comes with a slightly avantgarde flow and moderate occult currents. Adversarial Paths:
The Sinister Essence is a celebration of the Adversary, the opponent; Lucifer. Cult of
Taurus, as Watain and others, wanders the dark path and here they strive to serve some of the essence
of being one with darkness. I unfortunately don't have access to any lyrics currently.
The label compares their approach with early Norwegian avantgarde black metal as Fleurety, Ved Buens Ende,
and Dødheimsgard, but with exception from the album Written in Waters there are not many similarities
to trace. Compared to the latter, the vocals applied here is however far more deranged.
The bands black sphere may seem a little “tail-heavy” and diluted during the very first listen, but details and structures
rises up from the black abyss. The music is not particularly swift and fierce, but heavy, lingering and airy. It gives
its moods time to build up like a thickening mist. The black metal has plenty of changes along the way, without altering
the expression unnecessarily. A slightly progressive twist on rhythms, some unconventional melody choices and occasionally
unusual deformed guitars creates a somewhat avant-garde expression, but they never quite enter the realm of quirky ambience.
All instrumentation seems professional. Two guitars that explores territories creates a dynamic sound. The bass rumbles
low and lower in audible ways. The drums vary greatly in pace and tempo. The vocals are beastly, dissonant and insane.
The album was recorded in Behind The Sun Studios, Red House Studios and Studio Unglamorous.
Vicotnik from said Dødheimsgard and formerly At Buens Ende, has taken care of mixing and
mastering, on this as on the last album. The sound is dark, powerful and comfortable, and it's very suitably for the
mysterious and satanic atmosphere on the album. The sound also feels vibrant, organic and authentic. The dynamics are
proportional to the musical spaciousness, as it's equally roomy. DR7 might not be ample, but it provides more than
enough elbowroom to meet the requirements here.
Adversarial Paths: The Sinister Essence are three pleasurable and dark quarters in Lucifer flickering
light. A spiritual journey that can be easily recommended. I've wavered between 4 and 5, but eventually ended up on a
very strong four points. Instrumentation, style and sound is very well executed, but not all songs and parts
has equally much distinct character. I still enjoy listening to this album very much, and I do recommend it.
Cult of Taurus is a young band, and I have faith in them that they can develop even further. Thus it's
kind of fitting to leave some room for them to grow.
SEASON OF MIST, 20.04.15
I have stopped believing in the four P's; prophets, politicians, paranormal pranksters and promotional peroration. But
even if I don't believe in Santa Claus, St. Nicholas, it must still be possible to rely on “St. Niklas”.
Kvarforth, that is. For if you can't trust Swedish sociopaths with ADHD and general behavioural problems,
than just who the hell can you trust?
Niklas insists that those who fell of the Shining wagon after V - Halmstad will find
enough plagued suffering on IX to bring back the atmosphere of old.
Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends, hereafter only referred to as IX, brings
familiarly grotesque mental disgust and unpleasant suffering from Kvarforth's obscure and destructive
It is easy to imagine V - Halmstad as a musical divider, separating two different expressions, but
even if the more raw and primitive black metal of yesteryears has become somewhat dampened, we actually need to go all
the way back to the two first albums to find some really brutal black ethos. The dysfunctional dystopia is something
that Shining has offered throughout their entire career.
After Den Påtvingade Tvåsamheten, an unusually melodic and almost epic four minutes instrumental
introduction, the album opens with high pace before it calms down somewhat in the albums smoothest track
Vilja & Dröm. A good song, by all means, but also a fairly simple and straightforward song from this band. It
doesn't lack variation, but it has a fairly persistent guitar part that creates a sense of stagnation and resignation.
With barely 40 minutes, IX is the band's shortest album, but with moderate margin. Besides from the
first song, the other five has a relatively consistent average of seven minutes. Framtidsutsikter,
(Future) Prospects in English, or rather lack thereof, affects the next song. Unless your name is Niklas
Kvarforth, and you regard dying as a forthcoming liberating relief, that is. Calm, quiet, tender and melancholic
until the song toward the end stands up and gives the world the finger with more rocked tempo and a licking solo. Människotankens Vägglösa Rum reminds slightly of Människa O'Avskyvärda Människa from
VII: Född förlorare, and not only because of the similarities in the initial phase of the track names.
They have some of the same drift, where mid-tempo constitutes the majority and the average.
The pace is lowered again as Kvarforth fights his inner demons in Inga Broar Kvar Att Bränna,
before the albums longest song, over eight minutes long Besök Från I(ho)nom concludes. Concludes by
doing as promised, to bring back an ominous and dangerously creepy sense of desolated melancholic hopelessness. It is
depressive, and suicidal self-hatred characterize the mood. The song starts very good, with discouraged tones that
suggest the end of the road, before it explodes in frenzied hatred. A feeling that deep, irreparable depression and
long-suffering repressed anger leads to a “If I'm going to take my damned life, I'll giv'em fucking hell and take as
many of those bitchass fucktards with me in the fall as I possibly can” situation in a display of infuriated wrath,
touching upon a hellblazing rampage.
Unfortunately the song calms down considerably. I wouldn't mind more frenzied black metal towards the end, but it must
nevertheless be said that the rest of the track is cheerlessly beautiful. The bass is allowed to show off in the middle
section, and the combination rhythm, guitar, bass and vocals/monologue in the last ⅔ of the track is fairly
priceless. There's no eccentric piano interlude this time, but that's not a big loss.
The band, having existed for almost 20 years, and who released their first disc fifteen years ago, has gone through
its share of line-up replacements. Peter Huss is, alongside the indisputable boss, the one who's
persisted for longest. The guitarist came into the picture a decade ago, after The Eerie Cold was
released. Bassist Christian Larsson (Gloson, ex-Svart, ex-Livsnekad)
has reportedly endured the band since 2010, but didn't participate on Född Förlorare
(2011). Drummer Rainer Tuomikanto (ex-Ajattara) and guitarist Euge Valovirta both
got their studio ordeal here, after three years in Shining.
As the psychopathic perfectionist Kvarforth is, he has of course brought people who can play, and
he's probably been whipping them into getting it right.
The album was recorded in Andy La Roque's Sonic Train facilities. The sound, just as the instrumental
parts, is of course good. The dynamics are airy and nice, with as much as DR8 as a result. Very good. I could pick
slightly at the guitar sound, which ain't always accentuating the instrument in the very best way. At the same time,
because it is a bit shrouded, it kind of becomes one of the elements that create growth potential, where everything
comes more into its own with time.
Shining's life hating hopelessness has fascinated me deeply since I discovered the band with their
second or third album. Or fourth? I can't fucking remember, and it doesn't really matter. IX lacks a
bit too much in the song material to achieve full score and I miss the untamed savagery from the first albums. Still,
each song has its own identity, and there is lots of good work behind the album, which has resulted in high quality
and good songs, no matter what.
The album ain't on par with my favourites III, IV and V, but it's
still good. It is a bit smoother and definitely less jazzy than Redefining Darkness. Musically and
quality-wise I think this fits in between Född... and Redefining....
For the protocol, it may be mentioned that VI - Klagopsalmer is the only album that has disappointed
me so much that it is reduced to a life as dust collector, but it did come out after a remarkable winning streak.
(And even if it doesn't concern IX and I've said it many times before; Be sure to hear
For the God Below from the previous album before you eat a box of pills and go hang yourself.)
Over at Saint Niklas, the gateways to insanity is always ajar. We should be damned pleased about that.
I was pretty sceptical after just a couple of spins, but when the album gets its nails and claws in you, it represents
a solid four-pointer.
As always with this band's videos,
Vilja & Dröm is not for tender souls!
AGONIA RECORDS, 17.04.15
What the hell happened to Forgotten Tomb? One of Italy's best bands, and one of the leaders in the
black/doom, or dsbm, sub genre, has went astray, and changed their expression radically over the years. And not for
the better, I might add.
The Italians, or rather the one Italian, entered the stage just before a dying millennium gave birth to a new one.
Herr Morbid recorded the EP Obscura Arcana Mortis (2000) alone, before he debuted
in album format two years later with Songs To Leave.
The sequel Springtime Depression (2003) had a guest drummer, but it wasn't until Love's Burial
Ground (2004) that Forgotten Tomb had grown to a complete band.
With these album the band repeatedly showcased sorrowful muscles. Negative Megalomania (2007) took the
band in a slightly more progressive direction, but quality and muscles were still in place. (Vol. 5: 1999-2009
was not a conventional album, so let's skip that one). Under Saturn Retrograde (2011) once again saw the band slide a bit further away from the origins. The
band mixed some gothic Paradise Lost and a few grunge-sounding elements into the expression. The album contained
very short songs in Forgotten Tomb contexts, and with that, somewhat simpler song structures.
Despite this, the album had its value, even though it (for the first time in the band's creative artistic career) marked
a slight weakening of musical strength in my ears.
When the band the following year launched ...And Don't Deliver Us From Evil, this felt rather anonymous,
and it stands as a slight disappointment that I had practically succeeded in repressing. Until now. Therefore, I became
extra overwhelmed with disappointment over this new album. The band has unfortunately delivered their least characteristic
Hurt Yourself And The Ones You Love contains 7 tracks of approximately 7.5 minutes on average. The only
track that is reminiscent of past grandeur is closing Shallow the Void, the albums shortest song. An
instrumental whose soaring guitars and mournful sorrow echoes backwards in time on its suffering journey towards the end
of the album. The other songs at best have a mild dystopian touch of grief. The music can be described as an extreme-metal
variant of groove-metal. Songs have a form of progress and structure that goes on and on in fairly repetitive and
semi-monotonous ways. Through the first 3-4 spins, one song after the other sounded both similar and futile. Not
bloody boring, but not far from it either.
As the album eventually probed into my mind, the moderate variation came to the surface. As a cool, relaxed, laid-back
and groovy version of their old self. Think stoner/post-dsbm with associations to Pantera, Soulfly,
newer Sepultura and a dash of “modern” metal.
The guys are certainly technically competent. More so than earlier in the career. The bass is significant in the sound,
and the album has a lot of great guitar works. With the exception of some songs where drums gallop, they go at a medium
pace, giving room for more jazzy beats. The sound is powerful, good and comfortable, despite unnecessary constant loudness
across the album. It was recorded and mixed in Sound Suite Studios in Marseille, with Terje Refsnes at
the helm, and mastered in Audio Siege Studio, Oregon by Brad Boatright.
I wrinkle my nose of this song material, though. It's completely okay, but feels more like background music
with dozy moods than something one would focus on. Is the album really worth the money, time and irritation it takes
to make it sink in, only to end up with a frictionless and toothless album to smoke your socks to? Is a record you'd
almost forgets is playing in the background worth it? Purely subjective, I am quite disappointed of one of my earlier
favourite bands, and I don't feel that the album is worth time nor money. The music is too homogeneous and flat, as
there is no curves or ripples in the material, only a plain surface throughout. It's too anonymous, too straightforward
and too simple. I almost don't feel like awarding it more than two points.
While attempting to analyse the album objectively by looking at it isolated, out of context, it's quite al right, with
comfortable deep sound and toned down atmospheres. The songs are relaxing, as they sneak along like lukewarm non-poisonous
snakes in slow movement. Some may find it in their heart to evolve some sort of feelings for this record, but I'm not
going any higher than three points myself.
When Forgotten Tomb forsakes the self-hating and suicidal bastard child of black metal, dsbm,
I have no choice but to put my trust in Shining, which releases a new album on Monday, 20 April. After a few
spins, I'm a bit sceptical to that one as well. Has dsbm finally fulfilled its own prophecy and committed suicide?
My sulking obstinacy and lukewarm approach to this album is doubtlessly based mainly on subjective expectations and hopes.
You, however, shall make up your own mind, and that's a fucking order!
DEBEMUR MORTI PRODUCTIONS, 10.04.15 Akhlys came to this world in 2009. A black metal bastard child, fostered and conceived by bad dreams.
Nightbringer's Naas Alcameth's dreams and visions of
portals to dark, terrifying dimensions. A frequently recurrent world filled with golden and crimson ruins and derelict
buildings of labyrinthine architecture, lingering in the shadow. Always in the shadow.
That same year, Naas painted his dreams with a sonic paintbrush, and released the album
Supplication, a 37 minutes long dark ambient work consisting of a single song, in limited
edition via a smaller label. When the man's nightmares now has bred a new Akhlys album, it is still
Naas Alcameth who takes care of vocals, lyrics, guitar, bass, keyboard and ambient elements. To handle
percussion, he has gained highly qualified services from one Ain. The music, however, has changed
character considerably. A few ambient sequences nonetheless, this is extreme metal!
The Dreaming I certainly has similarities with Nightbringer's Ego Dominus Tuus, so
those familiar with that album knows roughly what to expect. After a lengthy ambient sequence the album opens with
seemingly monotonous and protracted black metal. When hidden and hypnotic tones eventually cuts through the thick
soot-coloured smog, it's difficult to resist. After the nine-minute omen, a 5.5 minutes short song follows, as
an invasion where the demon task force move in and besiege the listener's consciousness. Abrupt and efficient.
In 17 minutes long Consummation the squadron provides the final deathblow. The listener is carpet
bombed with an insane mix of frenetic, claustrophobic and dystopian black metal with Greek flavour and a modest touch
of moods from Morbid Angel's Gateways to Annihilation. The occupying power has secured its grip.
Subsequent The Dreaming Eye is ten minutes of pure intense and reckless brutality, before four minutes
of ambience leads the listener back to wakeful state through a creepy corridor where one preferably shouldn't touch the
slimy, smelly stone walls.
The gorgeous cover was created by David Herrerias, who also did the cover of Ego Dominus Tuus. The
album was recorded in Promethean Forge Studios and mixed and mastered by Dave Otero at Flatline
Studios. The dynamic range is nothing to brag about, but it works. The sound is good, and it suits music that
washes against the listener in cascades.
The Dreaming I has become a tornado that crushes and leaves everything in smithereens, a whirlpool
that drags the listener downwards, screaming and squirming in an endless descending hellish spiral, a maelstrom that
engulf and devour everything in its path. The album is a malevolent beast that feed you with dark dreams of decay,
putrefaction, depravity, corruption and stench. Dare you cross the portal to the dark side, and can you be certain of
Whether the album will remain a classic in my mind, as the grade suggests, or whether time will show that it really is
five point material, don't really make no difference. The album is damn good, and I'm enjoying the hell out of it.
SEASON OF MIST, 23.03.15
With such a cover art, and an album title with relation to the stars, this album should have been released three days
earlier. Many had the chance to experience a phenomenal eclipse. If it hadn't been for the fucking clouds. The only thing
I laid eyes on, or that laid down on my eyes, were raindrops.
Below this review you can read nine reviews that was written during a period of 15 days. Then all of a sudden, just as
many days went by without a single review. Nobody should accuse me of being predictable when it comes to posting shit.
Because of a human error, this album failed to make my (to-do) list of promos, and it was therefore well on its way
into oblivion. A week ago I came across a review that triggered the “damn, I've completely forgotten” -centre of the
brain. Since then, this album's been give one or two spins a day.
Former lead singer and co-founder TJ has quit and the band's guitarist and songwriter, former bassist
Nikita Kamprad has taken over behind the microphone, where he (yes, he) makes a solid effort.
Two new faces are recruited to take care of bass and reinforcements on guitar. They've been aboard since 2012, so they
have had plenty of time to break-in. The album was recorded and mixed in German Ghost City Recording and
mastering was done in German Original Mastering. The sound is good and the dynamics okay.
Since their inception in 2008, the Germans have released two albums and an EPs before this. Their self-titled debut
dodged the radar, but the band's previous album, Unstille (2012) impressed me a lot with its distinctive
approach to the black sphere. Unstille certainly didn't stand still. As curious children, the various
ingredients of a diverse black musical pot-pourri run around exploring every nook and cranny. Stellar is a natural continuation. It still moves in inhospitable landscape, but this time with a more
cautious approach. The overall expression has a more cohesive feel, where loose ends are gathered and discipline is
introduced. This is a more concentrated album, where the band moves in one troop, exploring new landscapes
in alien worlds with all senses on high alert. Stellar has many familiar elements. Different elements. So many that it becomes difficult to define
them. Whilst they don't really move that much around within their own safe environment. Confused? Welcome to
Der Weg Einer Freiheit's dark universe.
EDIT: The following track-by-track walk-through, really became terribly unnecessary, so you can skip if, unless you
have an exceedingly nerdy interest in reading a dry and almost repetitive review of each song.
Repulsion (8:41) starts the album with interplanetary atmosphere merging into a post-metallic landscape with
clean vocals. It takes a couple of minutes before it kicks off with thunderous drums and more punch, but the guitar
melodies moves slowly through the cosmos. Despite harsh and intense vocals and parts with burly rhythmic conduct, the
gentle guitar works creates a quiet, almost melodic atmosphere. After a fade-to-piano transition, the tangents takes
over the catering that last little minutes before...
Requiem (8:22) takes over the helm. Quiet passages with subdued pace reminiscent of shoegaze before the rate
increases and tremolo picking shake that kind of associations to pieces. Via various melody lines and strokes, the
velocity drops and increases again and again through slow cycles. Over halfway through comes a lonely note, composed
of various frequencies. It holds on for long, while the music gradually becomes slower. When it first looses its grip,
the world fall apart and a tranquil atmosphere with violin and cautious string picking takes over and fades out.
Einkehr (6:00) starts with a bang. Drummer swirl as egg beaters and bright raspy melodies from various strings
suddenly seems extra powerful. The cello evaporate as quickly as it entered the soundstage, and just as suddenly reappear
over the next peak in the landscape. The music continues its endless climbing and descent.
Verbund (3:30) is neither gentle nor merciful at the band drives hard into a crazed and intense pace that takes
my mind towards Deathspell Omega, if they had been stuck in a loop of only a few riffs.
Eiswanderer (9:15) doesn't start off quite as frantic, but not far from it. When they've eventually let off some
steam, the pace is lowered anew, but the hostile moods won't let go. When the air finally goes out of the balloon, several
minutes goes by in atmospheric dizziness and light-headedness before you recover from it. Than again, it explodes, leaving
you hot around the ears.
Letzte Sonne (12:17) gets the honour of concluding, for those who don't dig deeper in the wallet to ensure a more
exclusive version with a couple of bonus tracks. In the conventional last song, we find frontal assault and rehabilitation
already during the first few minutes. The shifting pace act like rhythmic gymnastics for a while before the expression
stabilizes somewhat. After minutes of steady drift and quiet melody lines somewhere inside the rumbling sound, a guitar
surfaces midway through the track to catch the breath and whistles a song before the high seas finally ebb out into a
silent low tide. When high tide surges back, it's with more pleasant guitar work before heavy and furious tones haul the
last minutes ashore.
Stellar is like one long cycle, a roller coaster, which slowly but surely, so slowly and quietly that
one hardly senses the butterflies in the stomach, alternates as seasons. The gradual change via the most harmonious
landscapes and the most furious turbulent circumstances, occurs so plausible that one gets the feeling that the music
doesn't move much. It is not Stellar that visits a number of different styles, it's the sub-genres
that visits Stellar. A very al right album to listen to, but no more exciting than the grade suggests.
DARK ESSENCE RECORDS, 16.03.15
If there's anything Norwegian metalheads is spoiled with, it's good black metal, folk metal and just about everything
in between. Scandinavia has brought up large portions of the best folk metal that is obtainable, even if the British isles
and parts of Eastern Europe in particular brings fierce competition. There is a real danger of becoming a bit superficial,
and dismissing new genre approaches as mediocre and redundant.
I must admit that De gjenlevende (The survivors) felt rather generic at first listen. It fortunately
didn't take many spins before the melody lines crept under the skin and fastened its claws.
Galar has strengthened their position with two former full-length albums, and fans of the genre is
likely aware of the Bergen-based band's work. Fornjot and Slagmark released their
first demo a decade ago. Joining them is Phobos (Aeternus, Gravdal) on drums. He
also took care of the percussion on the last record. In the scenery, Jorge Blutaar (Drautran,
ex-Árstíðir lífsins) lurks. He was also involved in Til alle heimsens endar.. He operates as
the band's lyricist. As on the previous album, authentic classical instruments have been used. Both string quartets and
brass has been incorporated. De gjenlevende was recorded in Concleave & Earshot Studio with
engineer Bjørnar E. Nilsen behind the levers.
The music is full of great melodies and moods. Although elements of black metal in a sense represents a significant
proportion of Galar's musical expression (more instrument-wise than sonically), it's not a significant
component what moods are concerned. The music seems to follow the lyrical topic. I have not read the texts, but lyricist
Jorge has come up with a conceptual theme for De gjenlevende.
The lyrics focus on describing the dark half of the eternal seasonal cycle. The strenuous hardship winter brings
with it, and the bitterness and dispirited reluctance Father Winter is meet with. The season encloses and tightens its
grip on all life, and often acts as a symbol of death. Winter eventually releases its hold and die out itself, as warmth
and life again forcing its way through. Galar offers solid and beautiful melancholy, where mood alternates naturally between despondency and
hopeful relief from new glimpses of sunshine, where steadily increased time slot of daylight time and gradually milder
temperatures thaws both snow and frozen souls.
To emphasize that De gjenlevende is full of contrasts feels like a cliché, but the composition, or
fusion, of the hard and the mellow is a central aspect of the album, and something that Galar master
gallantly. Fornjot's comfortable clean vocals and disarming piano, melodic guitar works - both electric
and acoustic, and classical inspired strings, meets raw drums, heavy riffs and Slagmark's sharp, atonal
and menacing vocals. (I think that it's Slagmark that does the biting articulation, but it
may be Fornjot, for all I know). The brass section almost forms neutral and histrionic devices in
this “tonal war of position”.
The band offers lots of great sequences, but occasionally some less exciting sequences exists. I never get entirely
accustomed with the most intense parts. I can't quite put my finger on what the cause is, but I suspect that the
rounded high pitched guitar tones is to blame. I prefer my guitar crisp and distorted in raw sequences. Although
Galar leads their own style, it doesn't feel particularly original. With 50 minutes it wouldn't have been
impossible to peel away some of the least atmospheric and intricate sections of the album, either.
When the grade don't climb higher on the scale, it's mainly due to those parts that is unable to leave an equally strong
marks. Even the fact that I've heard so much similar metal that it takes a lot to impress me, surely comes into play. We
are truly spoiled, not just here in the north. And some of us are perhaps in excess picky and demanding.
It must nevertheless be said that De gjenlevende is only a hair's breadth short of five points. The
strongest parts are unbelievably good and the sound is clear and nice. Galar has delivered a great
interwoven piece of folk metal with a symphonic touch, where one melody line more beautiful than the other emerge along
the way, while cold and hot extremes on a nuanced palette constantly battles for dominance and dominion in the musical
landscape. You who have read this far is of course obligated to check out this album and form your own opinion.
ADARCA RECORDS, 15.03.15
Unalloyed prog-metal is not often found on these pages, but Non-Euclidean Spaces is not the very first
album within the genre that gets a review here. Ayreon's The Theory of Everything was well received
in early November 2013, and this band indeed seems to be a bit inspired by Arjen's projects. They have even
given him a role on this album. They define themselves as power-progressive metal, so it's perhaps a genre debut on
this site anyway?
Anthropia was started in 2013 and consists of four French men and a French woman. We'll let history
be history, but I can mention that a demo was followed by two albums and a live album. I haven't heard any of this
material, but it has been six years since the last studio album, and it seems as if the time has been spent well.
The band has a general concept on Non-Euclidean Spaces. They fabricate their own story and their own
personal gallery around H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythology, and let them go through drama and dilemmas in a
typical Ayreon manner. To construct its own literary works around Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep, Yog-Sothoth and
similar idols, actually has a long and somewhat unusual tradition in which the author himself heartily encouraged self
production, but that's a digression.
This might not be the theme you'd expect, the genre taken into consideration. Extreme metal have no monopoly on
Lovecraft's dystopian fantasy world, but it ain't easy to shake off the prejudice that everything with power among
the ingredients should stick to princesses in distress and related topics. I don't feel the oppressive and anguished
mood from the books' stories about Cthulhu's universe in this music, as I would in black/death maelstroms. I'm not letting
that influence the grade, though.
The Ayreon approach is however not difficult to hear. Anthropia leans tightly toward their
Dutch role model, and they've even hired Mr. Lucassen himself as narration of the album. Non-Euclidean
Spaces is a professional work, showing signs of being laboriously forged at all levels. Instrumentation and
vocabulary abilities are both controlled and well done in all respects, and the band has also had several guests in the
studio. Pascal Allaigre, which has a self-titled shred/prog band has added guitar solo, and Edu Falaschi
(almáh, ex-Angra) sings on The Snake Den. Laurent Tardy (Film-musician and
“studio whore”) plays piano on The Part of Them In Me.
The album has gained a rich sound, where orchestral elements and Hammond organ are tastefully interwoven. The band is
amongst others inspired by classical guitar, something the cover song Fuoco, originally by
Roland Dyens testify to.
The band have produced the album themselves and drummer Damien Rainaud has taken care of mixing and
mastering in Logan Mader (ex-Machine Head, ex-Soulfly)'s studio Darth Mader Music
in Los Angeles. With great sound, but mediocre dynamic range, as usual.
Just like the aforementioned Dutchman's primary project, it's all about progressive music with various male and female,
clean and very skilfully performed vocals, rather intricate jazz-related rhythms and bass lines, winding melodic
constructions, stunning classic and acoustic guitar achievements, ravishing guitar solos and some flirting with 70s
Light and bright classical female vocals and progressive approach also give partly associations to a band like
Orphanage, without the biggest similarities, elseways.
I normally consider melodic qualities as the most important aspect of this form of music. I'm not being seized and
carried away by the melody lines on Non-Euclidean Spaces as on the best Lucassen albums.
Nevertheless... Said technical competence and ability are incredibly professionally performed, and the progressive
structure coils itself as an energetic serpent. This contributes both to impressing me, while keeping my attention
throughout as much as 70 minutes.
As the melodies don't fit like a glove for my subjective taste, the album don't reach a full score, but there's no
mistaking the objective qualities. The band is in any case highly skilled and bigger fans of the genre, as well as
fans of you-know-who, should definitely check this out. Any purchase can be performed from the band's own label
The band's got a bunch of songs on YouTube. Check 'em out, won't you.
NUCLEAR BLAST, 06.03.15 Enslaved has not only released 13 albums during 24 years, they are also in a position where any kind
of introduction is completely superfluous. Thus we kiss (almost) all formalities good bye, and move straight into their
Thurisaz Dreaming opens frenetic, with Grutle's tearing and ripping vocals that rasps
like a bestial torture device, it doesn't take many minutes before the first of many clever and smooth transitions leads
to luscious and languorous (sorry 'bout the pretentious formulations) progressive melodies. The hypnotic tones from
Ivar and Arve have a galactic tranquillity, while Grutle's rumbling
bass makes the starry sky pulsate. Cato offers comfortable and (to varying degrees) progressive rhythms,
which drive the ship forward, while Herbrand's divine clean vocals give peace of mind as a gentle breeze
on a warm summers day.
In Times is light-hearted. As a soothing breath of wind after a few cold ones on a lovely summer day,
it chases the butterflies in the stomach and places a rather stupid smile on the listener's face. The album will appear
as pretty gentle to those who are used to more ferocious extreme metal, but it's not too cheerful either.
There are still ominous feelings, hasty tremolo-riffing and of course Grutle's insistent articulation,
that creates insecurity, suspense and danger of downpour.
The songs don't have consistent melodies in a traditional sense. The songs are melodic, and there's a connection from
start to finish, but you have many odd and abrupt transitions which leads surprisingly natural from one sequence to the
other, although the various passages are very different. Even folkish viking inspirations appear on the album, especially
in the sequence 5-6 minutes into One Thousand Years of Rain.
The album is very progressive, but it's still relatively easy to get into. I had expected a bit more difficult accessibility
with a lengthier breaking-inn period, but it beamed into my ear canals as astral honey at first listen. The most difficult
aspect in this respect was probably some of the peculiarly rhythms. Whoever engages in air-drumming might leave the air
drumsticks alone, unless they have the house to themselves. It must be said that the album in true Enslaved
tradition grows even stronger when the material gradually becomes more and more recognizable for each spin.
If I were to place In Times in the discography, I believe it belongs just where it is. Enslaved
has never been musically at ease for long. The recent fifteen years, under a new musical umbrella, has been
a constant journey with somewhat different expressions from disc to disc, but also with steady development. Thus the
kinship is naturally strongest with RIITIIR (2012) and Axioma Ethica Odini (2010),
before the similarities fade successively down the line of releases, before practically fading away like dewing beer
in the sun around Isa (2004), Below the Lights (2003) or thereabouts. We also need
to just as far back in time (or In Times), to find the last changes in the line-up.
In Times can't be said to be particularly innovative. From what was innovative, their
progressive extreme metal which in turn replaced the Viking-themed black metal, Enslaved move ever
closer to more conventional progressive and melodic metal. Sure, they have their individuality intact, it is just not
as dazzling in style as on previous occasions. Still, there's no reason to be hung up in that aspect. Just how many
times can one band reinvent the wheel? Enslaved have the artistic integrity to do whatever the hell they want anyway, and they have earned
my humble respect. Even though I like to keep the magnifying glass over nitpicks long enough to lit fires the size of
a storm in a teacup, In Times is after all a very enjoyable, hypnotic and suitably complex journey
through 53 amazing and stunning minutes.
That leaves only three formalities. Some technical data about the recording, a recommendation and some samples.
The album was recorded in Bergen, mainly in Duper Studios and Solslottet Studio. In addition, some
recordings have been done in Conclave & Earshot Studios, Ivar's own Peersonal Sound
Studios and in a mobile studio, somewhere in the woods, where some experimentation took place. The mixing's been
done at Fascination Street Studios (Örebro). The production is fine as good wine, but the dynamics could with
benefit have been raised a few notches.
In Times is naturally a distance away from Enslaved's very finest moments, and it's probably
not as mandatory as many other albums from this monolith within Norwegian extreme metal, BUT...
The album is seriously comfortable as it constantly switching between different dreamy themes, mixed with an occasional
fleeting nightmare (... or in old Norse, Mardraum). It is strongly hypnotic and soothing, and I've had to
force myself to listen other albums the past week. Very good, once again, from one of the biggest, most professional
and most qualitative export items that Norway has to offer. This one's rewarded five strong points!
From Perth, Australia's fourth largest city, and only metropolis on the west side, comes the war demons of
Wardaemonic. The five men (two of which were replaced in 2012) has been operating for ten years and now releases
their third album. Their black metal has a Scandinavian whiff, and goes in a rather frantic pace.
The band offers songs with varied length, from barely six to just under twelve minutes long if we omit a short snippet.
“The Cold Steps of Solitude” by ChrisCold
It kicks of with two very aggressive songs, followed by a third where the adrenalin level is somewhat attenuated.
Especially the first two, Drowning in Seas of Wretchedness and Endless War, may seem
a clue monotone to begin with, but even if the pace is rather intense, they've got wits to blend in moods and sections
that breaks up and creates variety.
In the fourth song, Coronation, the tempo is lowered furthermore and we receive frozen moods, before
the band surprises a bit with very short To the Bitter End. This has a completely different appearance
than the other songs, where a dark and rather chewy character of Finnish extreme doom stands in massive but good contrast
to the rest of the contents on this album.
When the band then has had a short break to calm down the pulse and recover, they complete the rest in somewhat more
moderate and diverse forms. They haven't finished raging completely, though. The final stages consists of two mastodons
which together lasts more than 20 minutes. Summon the Daemon and Obsequiem both
provides a reunion with the artillery from the albums initial phase, but both eventually calms down. These offers altering
parts where moods and different passages comes and goes.
The instrumentation is impeccable, and certainly suits the musical intention.
Obsequium is a 50 minutes long album with loads of good black metal. The disadvantage is the combination
intense music and low dynamic range, where the latter aspect reinforces the intensity, with its compact and compressed
sonic spectrum. The music has a certain sharpness in its intrusive expression, that together with said conditions make
the sound a bit more distressing than strictly necessary. Some crackling may possibly be symptoms of clipping, but it
may also be other technical deficiencies in the MP3 files.
Nevertheless, the sound isn't bad. Both punch, bass, roaring and reverberation sounds good, and I must say I
have heard far more lifeless productions.
Obsequium is as said certainly a good slice of fierce black metal with shades of Arctic winds. The
album was not uploaded on Bandcamp when I first posted this review. The first on-line taste of the album was
Endless War. The second half of this, in particular, with mighty tones, angry vocals and rolling rhythmic thunder
sits very well with me after several minutes of violent downpour, and it get the blood pumping and boiling in my veins.
INDEPENDENT, 05.12.14 Synkvervet from Sandefjord, about 10 metric miles south/south-west of Oslo released their début,
Vår Avmakt as a duo almost exactly two years ago. Near the end of last year they released their sophomore album.
Both independently. The style seems to be the same, but the addition of more ingredients have seemingly lead to some
The band defines themselves as neo-folk metal. Something that really sounds easier and better than “melodic,
semi-extreme metal with folkmetallic essence and elements of both Gothic as black metal, with a few drops of neo-operatic
dramaturgy”, whatever one may think about the prefix “neo-”. The band combines beautiful melody lines,
vocals and fair tones from strings and keyboards, with raven black aesthetics, enraged rhythms and rough vocals.
The band name is derived from the old Norse expression sjónhverfing. Google translate translates
Synkvervet to “hallucinations”, but even if they're on to it, that's just a little bit misleading.
In old Nordic legends, mythical creatures, trolls, witches and spirits from the underworld could possess abilities
to cast spells to bewitches and hypnotizes the victim to either make this wrongdoer appear with a different appearance
than its own, or affect the victim's ability to make the right decisions.
Much the same as beer has done through centuries, luring many a man to drag all kinds of female creatures home with
him after a night on the town.
Synkvervet was started by Ingmar (Pellek, ex-Kirkebrann) as a
one-man band in 2011. The band started as an instrumental project but paradoxically now consists of as much as three
vocalists. Two of the singers were basically just invited as guests on this release, but the boss was apparently so
pleased with the result that they were given a permanent place on the team. A good choice!
The first to get a foothold in the band was Truls (Twisted Autumn Darkness, ex-
Kirkebrann), who writes lyrics and is responsible for the grim vocals. Ingmar, who played all
the instruments on the début, and Truls totalled the crew of Vår Avmakt.
Thereafter Espen came in on guitar and Rino (Greyzone etc.) took over
behind the drums. The most recent members are Niclas (ex-Arch Nemesis, ex-Dimension F3H
et al.) that contributes pure and clean voice, and Christina offering more gold throated vocal.
Ingmar now takes care of guitar, bass and programming.
In the myriad of releases it's alarmed many with good sound but little content and less identity. Synkvervet
has got both character and substance, but here however I have some objections when it comes to the sound.
The programming could have been a little less synthetic and the volume loudness lives a life on its own. I'm
exaggerating a little bit, but some parts, including the grand piano sequence in Inner Sanctum
feels unnecessarily loudly. Otherwise the synthetic feminine A-choir leaves me a bit dumbfounded, as it seems needless
when they do have a woman in the band. Perhaps this was pre-programmed before Christina came into
the picture(?). The sound is pretty good, but generally a bit too sharp. Where the new album from Moonspell
is a perfect example of music that can be played loud, Trollspeil is an
album that has a little too much distortion. The pure piano-sections can withstand high volume best. Otherwise, it
should be noted that the dynamic range ain't to bad.
I am not entirely comfortable with Truls' hoarse and flat voice. It is of course a matter of taste,
but growling and black vowel lacks a little punch and crisp savagery. He has by all means not a bad vocal, I'm just
a little picky.
On the positive side the band offer a very good melody lines and versatility in tempo and rhythm. It exchanged freshly
between the rough and the velvety, and its seasoned generously with virile antics, harmonies, duets, dramatic and
different moods. Generally, clean vocals rarely impresses me, and I therefore seldom have any particular expectations.
That's why Niclas amaze me with his powerful, clean vocals. He reminds me of a short-haired Bruce
Dickinson (around Brave New World). I'm no expert in this category, but you know the kind of vocalists
one can find as guests on an Ayreon album. Whether or not the piano is authentic, I can't not say for sure,
but it sounds good. The strings in The Horde and Huldrelokk don't sound so bad either. The melodies
the grand piano conjures up is not just half-hearted spices, as so many have the habit of adding, but well considered
and beautifully executed.
It is not really easy to draw any comparisons, which of course is a good thing, but various elements that could fit
into such different constellations as for example Theatre of Tragedy, Haggard, Lumsk,
Fjoergyn and Dismal Euphony bubbles and seethes in their black cauldron.
Ingmar and his accomplices have simply created an album with good compositions, strong melodies,
and the occasional sonic surprise, which seems to grow every time you listen. I am of the opinion that 55 minutes
long albums in most cases can be strengthened by cutting away some excessive blubber, but I don't feel that
Trollspeil needs to be trimmed in duration. Until next time however, I hope that the use of the most
artificial and synthetic elements is reduced somewhat.
Some debris in the machinery causes a bit weak four points, but to the extent the noble art of song-writing is still
regarded as one of the main criteria for selecting potential purchases, I choose to recommend this album to the
target audience. Listen through the tracks below a few times and let them sink slightly in. The song Ektet
i Elven has a proper music video, and you can read the story behind it along with the lyrics on Youtube.
The album can be purchased by contacting the band directly on synkvervet [at] synkvervet [dot] com
if it appeals to you.
DEBEMUR MORTI PRODUCTIONS, 09.03.15
The German gentlemen Gilles De Rais (guitar and bass) and O. (drums and vocals) is
finally back. I have taken the opportunity with a new album from one of these gleefully demented French-sounding bands
to hear the début Fin de Siècle (2012) a few times, with the word “research” as a kind of excuse for
myself. Not necessarily to draw any clever and precise conclusions, but simply because I wanted to.
Femme Fatale has similarities with the previous album, and doesn't really stand stand out much on
Kaiserschnitt either. But even though it's representative for parts of the new material, it has a relatively
gentle and melodic structure that doesn't reveal the entire frantic spectrum.
The title of the début, Fin de Siècle, is a term that refers to the years 1890 to 1914 in Central Europe. Years
characterized by good times, with an undertone of decadence. The Franco-German war was over, and Europe was for the
first time in several hundred years in a period free of any armed conflicts. The album conveyed the essence of this
era, for better or worse. The opium smoke and the absinthe's green fairy lurked behind every corner in a musical sense,
but even reality was often characterized by intoxication in this era. Even the most disillusioned of those who did not
belong to the upper class could achieve the illusion of the good life for a moment as he sat in the gutter, stoned,
drunk or high, out of this world. Fin de Siècle, which literally means “end of the century”, also implies the end of an era. In 1914,
war broke out in Europe anew. A peaceful era was over. Similarly, Kaiserschnitt replace decadence,
hallucinogenics and musical moods soaked in the mist of intoxications, with sharper gunpowder.
Soldiers in simple uniform attires, with primitive equipment and mortal dread, is laying in damp trenches while the
whistling and moaning winds and the raindrops drumming dripping on heavy and unpleasant helmets is drowned by the
crackling of repeated crossfire and the sound of explosions in the distance, or even worse; so close, so close. Fin de Siècle was not just a walk in the park either. It had plenty of disturbing and pleasurable
passages where abstinences, fever nightmares and indeterminate inner demons wouldn't yield, and allow peace of mind.
But it had more rounded edges, or it was simply more shapeless. Kaiserschnitt is sharp and hard as
the enemy's bayonet when you exhaustedly acknowledge that your short earthly period in a physical body, your only real
chance to life, to existence, to be, is finally terminated. Merely yet another life wasted. Such a tragic ending. It's
epitome becoming a vanishing remembrance among few. Kaiserschnitt, or caesarean section, presents diverse music with a fierce expression. German
monologues, disturbing brass, dystopic moods, aggressive drums, frantic vocals and sharp guitars plague and ravage, but
even elements like melodic playing, nimble guitar passages, choirs, tranquil and floating discomfort, harmoniously
modelled clean vocals and a well composed interlude with piano are also included. The music holds elements of black
metal, but be that as it may, this is not black metal. Dark metal with a whiff of French garlic breath is probably as
good (or bad) a description as any other.
Once again, one can regret that one didn't take the subject of German seriously in school. I think the lyrics here can
be quite interesting. Kaiserschnitt is dedicated to all victims of megalomaniac
Kaiser Wilhelm II. Exactly why this frequent visitor of Norway has received this dubious honour, I'm not
quite sure of. From what I can understand, he was not the greatest warmongers in the prelude to or the start of World War
I. Now, I'm not going to take him completely in defence. It's limited how much I care to read about over a decade old
emperor and international politics, just to do research for a modern metal album. Anyway, he wasn't totally innocent, but
whence war broke out, he soon left administration of warfare to others. Later on he pronounce scepticism of Hitler's methods,
which also speaks to his advantage.
I liked the début better. It took time and patience to devour and digest this album. It kept getting stuck in the throat.
But I did get it down eventually, by the help of determination and your toothbrush. Once digested it turns out to be a
release which can easily be recommended. Take a look at the video to Megalomaniac.
NAPALM RECORDS, 09.03.15
I have a few albums of these Portuguese standing on the shelf, but I can't say I've followed them vigilantly over the
years. The first thing that strikes me when I press play is how professional it sounds. It sounds qualitatively, thorough
and comprehensive in every aspect. From the very first spin. Nothing in the sound seems left to chance.
So far, so good, but if a product is too refined, you risk that the result is soulless, over-produced and polished.
Moonspell balance on the edge with style.
Moonspell has 26 years of experience behind them, if we count the first three years under the moniker
Morbid God. Only vocalist Fernando Ribeiro (or Langsuyar as he called himself
those years) remains from the original line-up, but as much as three men have tagged along since the change of name back
in 1992, and two more guys have partaken in 20 and 11 years respectively. You don't see that kind of loyalty and
perseverance every day.
The band has placed their first ten albums behind them, but doesn't seem to cut down or change direction drastically.
The developments since the start has indeed been quite pronounced, but as far as I can see, reasonably natural, and the
biggest changes came quite early in the career.
This album begins with great guitar playing before clean vocals blending into the sound, and orchestral string instruments
with tones inspired by the Middle East enters. The songs have some of the verse-chorus-structure I'm usually fed up with,
but they merge a much higher number of phonetic elements than what bands that normally structures their music simplistically
does. Besides, once I've gotten a distance to this sort of arrangements for awhile, it doesn't feel as loathsome to encounter
it once in a while. In addition, the band continuously throw out transitions and details in various sections that comes
Extreme vocals occur, but the main ingredient is clean vocals. Fernando has a very pleasant voice that
which occasionally put calm sections from Paradise Lost and Septicflesh in mind.
The combination gentle and melodic music, verse-chorus-verse-chorus and clean vocals causes a somewhat pop-influenced
expression from Moonspell this time. At first listen, I was very impressed by the technical qualities
of Extinct. The album is perfected to the nth degree, and the sound is awesome. During the first
successive rounds I was a little worried that this album would become too poppy and polished in the long run.
After having lost count of the number of spins over the last days, I have put these worries behind me. This is definitely
not music for fans of the dirty and brutal or hateful and icy. However, if you're a connoisseur who appreciate the calm
and serene moments of indisputable beauty and quality, you can enjoy Extinct while sipping to a better
vintage of Château de Magnifiqué.
Once you've gotten the album under the skin and revealed most of the details, it might not be an exciting release that
you'd listen to many times a day. This may not be the very strongest of five-pointers, but there's just too many advantages
in this albums favour to settle for four points. Extinct is not likely to collect dust on the shelves
of fans any time soon.
The album has a lot of good melodies, orchestral seasoning, warm and pleasant vocals, very good instrumentation from
everyone involved, and a heavenly sound. The bass is deep and fine, the string quartet and the band feels located in the
listeners room, while the vocalist becomes almost disturbingly intimate. The dynamic range is disappointing low, though,
but for this form of less intense music, it plays a less significant role. Fortunately, this attempt at sabotage causes
no major damage.
From Breathe (Until We Are No More) opens the album until it ends in a smoke filled French saloon, three
well spent quarters have come and gone in your life.
The album comes in various formats/packages with various options of cover art.
The image above depicts the ordinary CD case.
LUPUS LOUNGE - 27.02.15
German Helrunar started as a pagan black metal band one year into the new millennium. After a demo and a
split they released the album Frostnacht in 2005. The sequel Baldr ok íss from 2007 was
the first release that caught my attention. It was absolutely all right, although there was some shortage of originality.
After this, guitarist Dionysos went in a separate direction (the reason being unknown to me), and the band
was reduced from three to two men.
With Sól, a double album released in 2011, Helrunar took a major step forward and aside.
Their black paganism had received a heavy veil of gloom, which placed them somewhere between depressive black metal and
black/doom. From jumping around in the woods as imps, the duo sought refuge in and occupied a deserted castle, where
mighty, dark, slow and hypnotic tones emerged.
This time, the purest black metal is toned down, and the expression has moved even closer to death/doom. There is admittedly
no revolutionary change, but rather more like a natural sliding development.
Even Helrunar have gone for a concept this time. The lyrics deals with the Europeans in a historical
perspective, and revolves around the time when humanity stood on the threshold between medieval and modern times,
surrounded by superstition and fear, torn between religion and enlightenment. Unfortunately I have no access to lyrics,
but the vocals are very comprehensible. If only I had paid attention in the German classes.
It's Skald Draugir (who also sings in Árstíðir lífsins) that performs the vocals. He appear
as exceptionally diabolical and threatening. At the same time, Alsvartr takes care of drums, guitar
and bass, as he's always done. That all the instrumental works are controlled by one man is quite impossible
to guess. The guitar is in multiple tracks, and riffs driftingly while melancholic strings weep in the background. The
bass is deep and vital as it plays along instead of just following the music.
That Helrunar has left the most quintessential black/pagan-influenced behind, hasn't made them less dark
in the expression. Niederkunfft is jet black in the sense that the mood it conveys is claustrophobic and
pressuring with occasional bleak and alarming melody lines that blows as cold draught down the spine, and evoke goosebumps.
I was unsure whether Helrunar could borderline Sól, but the duo has accomplished this.
Where I consider Sól as bit more hypnotic, I consider Niederkunfft as more atmospheric.
At least, that's what the gut feeling says. Moody, suggestive, evocative, or whatnot, it's very good, nonetheless!
Tău marks the start of “Transilvanian Trilogy”, a conceptual trilogy from the Roman
band which this year can celebrate its 20th anniversary.
The word means “your”, but can also refer to lakes in the mountains – which may be much deeper than one might suspect.
Negură Bunget (which means something like “hazy forest”) started out as a trio under the moniker
Wiccan Rede in 1994, but was reduced to a duo and changed their name the following year. Percussionist
Negru and singer/guitarist (etc.) Hupogrammos managed to release one album before they were
joined by guitarist/bassist Sol Faur a few years later. This crew remained stable throughout 4 albums,
before the two latter went on and formed the band Dordeduh in 2009. The last album with this trio was released
in 2010, just two weeks before the next album was released, with complete new line-up. This is almost exactly five years
ago. Again, all members besides Negru is replaced.
As usual, Negură Bunget serves up progressive and atmospheric tones with elements of folk-, pagan-
and black metal with a somewhat psychedelic twist. Untraditional instruments (or, within folk music known as traditional
instruments) is used relatively frequently, giving the band some of its distinctive character. For the first time,
brass instruments is also applied. Rather bizarre transitions and changes in expression come unexpectedly. That's of course
to be expected from this band, but you're never quite sure of what's coming and when. An element that
further contributes to Negură Bunget's distinctive style.
As mentioned in the introduction, Tău is the first part of Transilvanian Trilogy.
The concept doesn't consist of a lyrical narrative, but a sonic tribute to the homeland. Part 1 looks at Romania's nature,
where each of the eight songs represent different natural landscapes, complete with small stories, myths and legends
associated with them. The next chapters will deal with Romania's people and traditions, as well as the country's spiritual
Nămetenie initiate the album quietly with an atmospheric intro touch at the beginning. Comfortable
flute and quiet acoustic-sounding guitar etc. are eventually joined by nervous twitches from the bass. The short, almost
misplaced strokes to the bass gives a sensation of a bass player with impatience to get started. The ten-minutes long
track is the albums decidedly longest. It floats leisurely along in mid-tempo, but holds both drama and diversity. It's
just speculation to guess at which landscape each song symbolizes, but here the nature sounds both wild, wet and varied.
The songs have different expressions. Track three and four, for example, are two fairly quiet tracks. One with lots of
folk instruments, and the other with a little medieval mood and massive use of horns. Subsequent Tărîm
Vîlhovnicesc is far more blackened, featuring guest vocals by Sakis Tolis (Rotting Christ).
Împodobeala Timpului, on the other hand, opens lively as jesters on the square. It blends the
band's diverse instrumentation in spirited pace with hyperactive jazzy elements in the style of Diablo Swing
Orchestra to a fiery and feverish roundel. Here too we find a guest appearance. This time on guitar, from Rune
Eriksen, better known as Blasphemer.
The instrumentation is as expected impeccable and the sound is very pleasant. Even the sonic dynamics are good. (DR8
is hardly more than “sufficient” in many contexts, but is here more than enough to add some extra punch when needed). Tău is unmistakable Negură Bunget in good style. The album ranges well,
from the eerie and ominous, via the meditating and folkloric to peculiar carnival conditions in the gypsy camp.
Impressively enough without sounding the least absurd. On the contrary, this is an airship journey with splendid views
of an impressive landscape.
A 72-page art-book version with detailed explanations to each track, and three music videos, exists. Whether it's still
available, or you find it affordable, you'll have to figure out for yourself.