Immortal Frost Productions, 28.11.16
The black metal warriors in Khaospath are located in Skellefteå, but there's not much about the music
revealing Swedish ancestry. The band was then also started on Malta, which isn't exactly an epicentre of black metal.
It all started with Vargblod, former member of Martyrium, and ceo in a one-man band named
Draugûl (who just released album number four). After relocating to Sweden, he hired a few armour-bearers
and released the debut in 2014. Following a replacement, the sophomore album was released a few months ago.
The foul stench of underground reek through clearly when the trio goes to war, armed with 55 minutes of black metal with
warlike disposition. There's still an airy feel to the music, not nearly as compact and solid as some Swedish fellowlike
subspecies of the genus, and the fellows incorporates some melody to the riffs. The style is therefore more in vein with
Mörk Gryning than Marduk, without comparison beyond those aspects. Khaospath is not
on par with any of them for the time being.
The fetid smell of underground unfortunately don't just indicate that it sounds hungry and vital, but also that the band's
second full-length sounds rather thin and unfinished.
The song writing do have potential, that's pretty much an ascertainable disputable fact, but do for the time being remain
somewhat generic. The material itself is still not the biggest problem. The problem is that the sound is underproduced in a
way that draws attention to the fact that this is a bunch of novices, to put it brutally honest. With professional sound and
a sadistic producer who accepts nothing but the best, paid with blood and tears, the least favourable imperfections
would have been weeded out or covered up, and the music's better aspects illuminated (by the light of Lucifer, obviously).
This do of course sound rather negative, but real black metallers, performers and fans alike, tend to be negative and sceptical
by nature, and apologizing for doing so is a sin according to the other book. I will, however provide an explanation.
You know, there's no point writing with you to read between the lies as an objective. (Best song title. Ever.)
The vocals chlorinate rather nicely (I attempted to translate the word “claw”, but the faulty translations also do the
trick), but wouldn't have suffered from sounding a little more diabolical. The works of the guitars are alright, but the
guitar sounds reasonably skinny and rounded, while the drums feels a little low in the mix. It should be said that it helps
to increase the volume beyond the neighbour's pain threshold to make Khaospath's inherent power and thrust
come off as more powerful.
As a cold-blooded and grumpy black metal fan I reserve my right to argue that ...for the Devil Speaks the Truth
don't rise above the threshold for recommendation. As a somewhat more patient and benevolent writer, I must
nevertheless stress that the album's got riffs and moments that won't harm to be heard again, and that the album gradually
grows in quality. The band also shows a will that feels unwavering. I will gladly give Khaospath another
chance at the next opportunity, for I have great faith in the band's inherent potential. To be competitive in the bulging
scene, however, it requires a little more distinctiveness, somewhat stronger riffs and most importantly; more even sound
with better punch.
Almost an hour of straight-in-your-face black metal would easily become quite an earful, something Khaospath
seem to agree on too. The band is at their best when they offer bleak dreamy moods as in Lunacy Triumpant,
not to mention when they explore the boundaries and moves outside the box. The hypnotic end to A Blade at the
Edge of Sanity creates a bit of dynamism to a static expression, while Oraculum Strigoi stand
out in a charming manner with very good use of clean vocals and adequate synth. A Blade... must be said
to hit a nerve even when reeling off traditional Nordic black metal. The closer, Ravens Downfall contributes
with a gloomy mood, robust cleans and the album's most snarling black vox. The contrast from the front-end of the album
is enormous, for the ten minutes long track borders on the superb.
If more material (and said sound) was on par with the last threesome, the rating would also have been stronger, for
after about ten spins this is definitely on the verge of "good". The first half hour isn't all that exciting,
except from ...Blade..., but the last 20 minutes is absolutely not bad. With better sound, I'm sure
...for the Devil Speaks the Truth would all-in-all have been considerably more successful. Do yourself
a favour, and listen to track number nine, Ravens Downfall, the song Quorthon never got
around to write. Rating: 3+
Dark Essence Records, 20.01.17
Not much more than a year ago, in early December 2015, the veterans in Helheim from Bergen, Norway
released their eighth album, raunijaR. Although I haven't caught up with all albums, it's clear to me that Helheim
is a constantly evolving band that has long since left their most viking based roots.
They haven't taken a giant leap since raunijaR but evolution continues unabated. At least they
offer a smooth transition by giving the listener a form of leitmotif from the last record when opening
with Ymr, a song that continues the distinctive local flair therefrom.
Exactly what it is about the song that gives me a sense of narrow alleyways and an air of salty sea, surrounded by mighty
mountains with dark, deep lakes, I can't really answer. I have a relatively good knowledge of the city's local culture,
without actually having heard something similar. The music conveys an unvarnished essence of rain, biting wind and arduous
everyday life in impoverished conditions in a time before electricity and water closets made its appearance. The music in
many ways remind me of a semi-black offspring of Seigmen.
From thereon, the music take a turn farther back in time, without me being able to pinpoint the era of its spirit exactly.
We're probably not taken as far back as to the Viking Age, where Helheim began their musical journey.
At least not to a play including the same characters; stalwart Viking warriors in long boats on the North Sea. We might
be settling in the late Middle Ages. It's allegedly runic mysticism the band has been captivate by and inspired of in
At least the Seigmen associations evaporate.
landawarijaR have a pagan Norse touch, but with a stronger atmosphere of nature. Which is enhanced by
the use of timpani and horns, which has become a regular feature in the present decade. The roots stretches to a time
when deciduous trees such as birch, oak, aspen and elm dominated. The irksome Nort-American pinaceae Sitka spruce that
covers the mountains these days, didn't even exist until just over a century ago. Okay, that was a digression.
The music alternates between among other toughened weather-beaten opposition with a clear profile of black tags, and
beautiful melancholic melodies with mournful choir, as in the title track, or infectious choruses, like in
Baklengs mot intet. The music is quite peaceful, like a doomy soundtrack to the shaman who gathers ingredients,
much like a Celtic druid, and carve magical runes that are later sung to the monotone resounding frame drum. That might
perhaps be a lousy explanation, but it says something about the halfway dreamy moods that landawarijaR
conveys. There's not much of Wardruna to be traced though, but a bit more of proggy Enslaved. Overall,
there's a relatively heavy use of vibrato (or tremolo) on guitars and bass, giving a vague laid-back stoner feel, and a
distinctive touch to the album.
Guest vocalists may also be briefly mentioned. Among the five invitees, Pehr Skjoldhammer of Alfahanne
is the one who stands out most with his Swedish voice. The band's producer has also lent them his voice, while the
remaining three names don't ring a bell.
The next thing you need to find out is just how good this album is. I imagine that landawarijaR is a very
individual piece. It is probably neither love or hate, but only you can answer where in between you would place
it. Personally, I find the pleasurable melodies and the relatively spellbinding atmosphere both enjoyable and slightly
hypnotic, but not strong enough to awake colossal exuberance. The album is less divergent than its predecessor,
giving a more natural and less disruptive drift. I think this album will be very suitable to calm down and feel the pulse
rate decrease along with daylights diminishing brightness at dusk. Pleasant. Leisurely. A nice album, no doubt.
There's of course not anything to nitpick at concerning the sound. Just as the last time around, the album's been recorded
in Conclave... along with Black Hole Generator's Bjørnar Nilsen, and mastered by Enslaved's
Herbrand Larsen. The sound is once again lush and organic, which fits the music well. The rich bass is prominent
but not dominant. An alright dynamic range of DR7 does the trick as the music isn't particularly intense.
The CD comes with two video singles Baklengs mot intet can already be checked out on-line, while the video for Ymr
hasn't been published yet. The album in its entirety can be heard below. Rating: 4+
code666, 20.01.17 Ashenspire was formed in 2013 by two guys from Scotland with a background in an experimental black metal band.
They had grown tired of glorifying nationalism and hero sagas of a long bygone era. Instead of superficial romanticism for their
motherland and sickening local patriotism, they wanted to focus on the negative aspects and consequences of recent history.
The hour-long debut doesn't take place in the present, though, but is set to a more primitive modern society, where
dim light beams from gaslights penetrates a layer of smog on their futile journey straight into the gutter.
Famous names such as Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper may also be used to evoke associations to this time period, and will
probably do a better job of planting the right mental images. In other words, we find ourselves in the late 1800s.
Speak Not Of The Laudanum Quandary, or “Don't talk about the opium elixir's dilemma”, is a tragedy in seven acts
that draw a brutal picture of the darker sides of the British Empire. The lyrics focus on poverty, drug abuse, pollution, disease,
suicide, long gruelling days paid with more physical deterioration than money, as well as other forms of misfortune and misery in
the streets of London. All this while the elite spent money on themselves and the eternal arrogant imperialistic colonization of
foreign lands. I can't say for sure just where the story takes place, but London fits the description well.
Ashenspire, who has since grown to a quartet, is in roughly the same musical alley as Winterhorde's
Maestro, whatever genre that one belongs to. Ashenspire has a Gothic flair, but is not as
symphonic as Maestro, and neither as melodic, diverse and “jester-like schizophrenic”, but rather more marked by
testy negativity. Let's call it progressive melodic extreme metal with a poignant dramatic mood and a touch of avant-garde.
Beside said similarities, there's not a lot of albums that reminds me of this work. Small fleeting associations with
some of The Vision Bleak's authentic moods of a time that has vanished behind the horizon, are mixed with French
absinthe-fog. A Forest of Stars' unique approach is mentioned in the press release, and yes, they also have some of
the same manic atmosphere to them, although Ashenspire ain't quite as psychedelic by nature. Speak Not..., albeit more streamlined than Maestro, is far from monotonous. The expression is more
even, but the music is characterized by a profusion of transitions and dramatic techniques. Two elements also provides an
unmatched musical signature. One is the fiddle, which is rubbed in a lovely organic way, far, far away from the synthesizer's
artificial reproduction. Gorgeous! The second is the vocals. Inspired by Devil Doll, a form of theatrical semi-spoken
clean vocal is used. The Germans, of course, have a word for it; sprechgesang. The vocals are performed on plaintive and
frustrated, but not whining way. His solid, manly and crazed voice quivers with heartfelt indignation and resentment
of immersive empathy over the corrupted and warped state of affairs.
Speak Not Of The Laudanum Quandary was recorded and mixed by Greg Chandler of Esoteric and
Lychgate, and then mastered by Brad Boatright in the US studio Audiosiege. The sound is warm in a
natural fashion, creating a relatively authentic impression of witnessing a condition of depression and despair in the light
of candles and a glowing cast iron stove. Good dynamic range on DR8 is also a gratifying contribution to otherwise good sound.
Speak Not Of The Laudanum Quandary is a well-composed and proficiently executed portrayal of hard times of
drudgery and toil at making ends meet with ailing health under penniless distress, that can be heartily recommended to fans
of the aforementioned references. Especially those who think the description sounds intriguing. Rating: 5
Just one song is streaming below, but don't hesitate to check out the rest on
Noisey, where the
première is even adorned with something as unusual, but appreciated, as a good personal description.
W.T.C. Prod.&Daemon Worship Prod., 13.01.17
The Norwegian band Shaarimoth has previously passed far beneath my radar, and I would never have guessed
on my own weathered land as their hotbed. The band was started in 2004, a year before releasing the debut Current
11. The two remaining original members previously played together in the defunct demo band Antarctica, as
well as somewhat more acclaimed Disiplin. Last year they hired Gehenna's new drummer, and the trio have
now released an album that should really create a name for them and nail it to the public consciousness.
Musically, Shaarimoth appear as a chaos-gnostic cult. Technically, they sort under death metal, albeit
with a solid quantity of sulphurous black moods fully absorbed. The men's extreme metal are however more than anything
characterized by strong moods of spiritual ceremonies, as a grand occult work reveal itself. To describe such a work in
writing is doomed to fail. To describe music with words in general will never substitute for the sonic experience, but
the attempt feel extra futile in cases such as Temple of the Adversarial Fire.
Short melody lines, wrapped in ritualistic cowled robe garments, often meets their destiny, being sacrificed at the altar
of diversity. New rhythms and changing riffs in a resounding inferno of layered madness becomes like a patchwork of wet
leaves, revealing its secrets bit by bit. When you think you've turned every stone and robbed the album of all its secrets,
and deciphered its hieroglyphic aspects, new details nevertheless continue to appear as cobweb in the corners. The music
has this certain something about it, this magical wormwood spices that is so damn hard to put the finger on, but
that makes each listen an otherworldly experience.
Shaarimoth's occultism is of a different kind than the type that Necros Christos preach, although
similarities exist. There is something alien and mysterious to Shaarimoth's approach. With a tasteful amount
of doomsday trumpets, the expression becomes almost as majestic as Behemoth. Sound and rawness is simultaneously
ominous and coarse like Cultes des Ghoules, the music's vibrant nature is exotic as Acherontas and the occult
touch has a ceremonial character in line with Schammasch. There is a Greek whiff of Rotting Christ to trace
here and there, as in the song Harba Di Ash'mdai, and the rabid spiritual style is comparable to acts like
Putrisect, Serpents Lair and Mephorash. The vocals in Lord of Putrefaction have
particularly strong vibes of Cultes des Ghouls.
That the witches cauldron that is Temple of the Adversarial Fire has familiar elements makes little difference
as long as the crème de la crème is mixed to a well-composed and spicy stew. A stew that feels like a maelstrom of magma.
A full score do however require a bit more innovative signature.
If this incomplete description gives you a certain indication, I have at least succeeded in conveying a fraction of
the essence of Temple of the Adversarial Fires. If the genre appeals, an eagerness to listen to this
exhilarating work with your own ears ought to be aroused. In that case, my job here is done. I slowly withdraw into
the shadows from whence I came, while entrust you to the Temple of the Adversarial Fire, where I'm sure
Shaarimoth will deal with you in an appropriate manner. Rating: 5+
Drakkar Productions, 15.01.17
Ukrainian Balfor was formed under the moniker Alter Ego in 1997,
but sixteen years ago, they decided to change it. Barbaric Blood, the band's previous and second album, was released in 2010, but when I discovered it
towards the end of 2013, I was so captivated that I wrote a short review of it anyway, offering it five strong points.
There's two reviews with rather lukewarm receptions on Encyclopaedia Metallum. One of 'em states that it could
work as a gateway to black metal for outsiders, but that one might as well just go straight for the classics.
If I were to compare with true black metal myself, the album would surely have fallen through as too polished
and accessible, but Balfor don't play pure black metal.
The band plays a kind of powerful and slightly orchestral “melodic black metal” with elements of death metal, rich punch
and Viking-esque moods. Slightly related to bands like Keep of Kalessin, which they otherwise sounds most
like in the song Crimson Stronghold, but also bands like Amon Amarth and Necronomicon,
as Balfor offers a bombastic flair. The moods gives a sensation of flaming determination in accordance
with stalwart Vikings, or any other group of warriors defying natures wild forces for that matter. Thus, we're not talking
traditional black metal here, but a rounded, fairly symphonic and pagan offspring with inspiration from Immortal
and Einherjer alike, combined with an epic touch.
Black Serpent Rising is not so melodic that pure melodies dominate in agreement with the traditional
understanding of the word “melody”, but the synth located in background paints an underlying majestic choir, while
guitar, drums and vocals glows with fiery enthusiasm and heroic fighting spirit. I was somewhat sceptical toward the
album at first. It all sounded all right, but nevertheless fairly generic. When nuances gradually attach hooks in the
skin before bordering my soul like greedy pirates, it's on the contrary quite hard to let go.
The album has a little more melancholic tinge than its predecessor. Absence of equally stalwart moods probably helped
increase the scepticism, but the atmosphere that gradually fasten its clammy grip around the throat is just the element
that grows to become the albums sturdiest side. The sound is more downcast and down tuned, and the vocals more introvert
and discouraged. It's still angry, but not as warlike, something that suits the mood. The sound is still rich and
well-produced, bordering on “polished”, yet heavy as lead. In other words, rather unsuitable for single-minded necro
puritans. For all-round extreme-metallers, appreciating quality regardless of where in the multifaceted landscape a
band have anchored, I recommend a spin or more. For the record; there's nothing wrong with being single-minded or having
different taste, I'm just trying to sift out the most likely target audience, and establish that I believe
Balfor have qualities that are sure to meet these patron's demands. Rating: 5
Everlasting Spew Records, 09.01.17
If you were disappointed, bordering on deeply hurt and personally offended, by the latest stunt from Morbid Angel,
Soul Demise may be just your thing. The newcomers in Italian Maze Of Sothoth plays pure
death metal with hypnotic groove, sinister riffs and howling, cursed solos from the other side. With ditto guttural vocals,
2009 marked the band's beginnings, and the time since has been used to build up a solid line-up, record a demo, write more
songs and enter the studio. Nothing unusual, in other words.
The band consists of four guys without remarkable backgrounds, but although there's nothing sensational to report, the debut
is solid enough to be spectacular enough by itself. For the sake of clarity and factuality, it must be noted that there's no
tremendous similarities with Morbid Angel here, but if Illud Divinum Insanus disappointed you, it means you
like true death metal, in which case Maze Of Sothoth ought to please you. The Italians have more in common
with Hour of Penance and Hate Eternal in this respect.
After almost two minutes of low frequencies, all hell breaks loose with hefty riffs of fittingly intricate technical calibre.
However this is not death metal with full focus on technical brilliance. It is uncompromising and granite-hard killer metal
fired off like heat-seeking missiles in the direction of the listener's cranium. The guitars are seemingly everywhere in the
frequency spectrum, while the vocals are down in the basement, substituting for the bass player. Said bassist is present, but
not always visible (or rather audible) inside the jumble of a striking twister outbreak. Especially not without a
dedicated subwoofer to emphasize the lower regions of thundering audio. The drums are as torpedo propellers, albeit not with
the same steady rhythm, and the pace of the diverse battery-thresher/harvester is admirable.
The sound is full of reckless punch, just like the music, and the songs are tough. The music is quite close to the border of
the sub-genre brutal death metal, without crossing the territory altogether. Soul Demise never exaggerate into
clattering cacophony. The music isn't really original or musically refined, but songs, performances and sound makes this album a
juicy, high-octane lethal injection. Maze Of Sothoth is a band to watch out for, for fans of solid, fatal death. Rating: 4+