Terror From Hell Records, 04.12.17 Into Coffin is a relatively new band from Germany. The band was started in 2015, and released their first album, Into a Pyramid of Doom, the following year.
On the EP named The Majestic Supremacy Of Cosmic Chaos, it sounds as if the band has matured, although I've admittedly only heard fragments of the album.
Only two songs are served this time, but the duration is generous.
The German trio plays heavy, tough and doomy death metal. Let's not waste any more time on trivialities.
The riff that opens barely 16 minutes long Crawling in Chaos is lead-heavy, but the rhythm is slightly lighter on the feet. Certainly, In Coffin has a thing or two in common with death/doom, but one similarity is not present; grief. The music we meet here can be said to have a whiff of resignation. But it does not convey tough emotions. It does not cry its bitter tears in wistfulness. It has risen. And now, all it wants, to crush everything in its path.
In almost 13 minutes long The Evanescence Creature From Nebula's Dust, the bulldozer puts in a higher gear. Finally the bulldozing sees some streamlining to increase the efficiency of the demolition. However, after 7 minutes the dozer breaks down. Now they'll have to crush manually. With sledgehammers. You'll have to listen below to find out how the situation is going to turn out for our aggressive, destructive and violent trio.
Nonsense aside: This is solid stuff, but you should listen for yourself, rather than reading my gibberish. The Majestic Supremacy Of Cosmic Chaos is already out digitally and on MCD, and the vinyl is supposedly right around the corner.
Iron Bonehead, 01.12.17 Demo I is the first sign of abhorrence from the Swedish entity Malakhim.
The constellation consists of five men who came together in 2015 to play flaming black metal. Demo I consists of three songs with a total duration of 16 minutes.
The recording started in the rehearsal room, but was eventually moved into the home studio of an acquainted veteran.
The demo sounds highly professional, and was first released by the band in October.
A Thousand Burning Worlds opens with glowing riffing and ditto drumming. The structure and intensity of the song has a typical Swedish spirit. Something I truly appreciate. The fact than three of the quintets' members don't seem to have any particular experience to show for, comes as a surprise. Bassist TK has a solid handful of bands behind him, but far from as many releases under the belt. Guitarist Andreas Nilsson, on the other hand, is a merited man, residing in Naglfar since the early start, and sojourning in Ancient Wisdom, from the establishment and up till the first classic album. It is Marcus “Vargher” Norman, Andreas' colleague from these two bands, who has recorded and produced the demo in his studio Wolf's Lair. Popular name, that one.
I could have guided you through the songs minute by minute, second by second, as a lame adaptation of slow TV, but I trust that you're able to get through these three songs by yourself, and that reference bands and such won't be necessary. Expression, performance and sound is killer, but the guys can work a bit on the variation in the material.
The music is tough and, for being a demo, it's actually fucking awesome!
Finally, some insignificant information for nit-pickers and others with an obsessive-compulsive requirement for pedantic info: Even though the press release specifies early December as the release date, it seems that Iron Bonehead actually released the goodies on CD and 12" vinyl on January 1st.
Season of Mist, 26.01.18
Among heavy death/doom acts, Hooded Menace is a band I'm having a somewhat ambivalent relationship to. Their Gloom Immemorial compilation appealed to me just over three years ago, and was awarded 4 strong points, but not everything the band has released has fascinate all that much. Darkness Drips Forth (2015) actually sounded so mediocre that I skipped it.
With fierce competition in a heavy and melancholic genre, Hooded Menace hasn't always reached the top echelon. But with Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed, the Finns make some tiny adjustments to the recipe...
...Small stylistic changes that prove to have a greater overall effect...
Pekka Koskelo has been replaced by Otso Ukkonen on drums, and the band has employed a dedicated bassist. Something that has turned the quartet into a quintet. All this, according to the press release, has taken place after the recording of Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed. Encyclopaedia Metallum, however, believes that the opposite is the case. The band confirms that Season of Mist is quite right in this comment.
For most fuckers, however, the music is the most important aspect. And the band really deliver the goods this time around. The band doesn't sound quite as back heavy this time. The sound ain't as leaden and the expression has shifted slightly. It's difficult to put fingers and words on the subtle but crucial changes that have taken place. It's still heavy, yet somewhat brighter. From resignation to vigorous. The melodies still exhibit sorrow, but also fighting spirit. Parts of the material may be said to have taken a tiny step from funeral-embossed death/doom, towards doomy death metal.
The expression is admittedly far from overturned. Without taking on the means of bands like Obliteration, Hooded Menace appears to land somewhere in between these stylistic approaches. Something that provides a long-awaited fresh approach for the Finns. In ending Black Moss, it' actually even allowed to display a modest smile. Whether or not that is still allowed if you purchase a version containing the cover song of Celtic Frost's Sorrows of the Moon as a bonus, I really can't say for sure.
Rather than just lead, Hooded Menace also offers almost joyful sadism in single sequences where the death metal borrows diabolical aspects from the more melodic style of the 80s. The music, of course, still has high density and inertia, and it's stuffed with melancholy and discouragement, but rather than only sounding sludgy until it's one with the genre's surroundings, like a lead-grey-metallic chameleon, the chameleon turns on a light at the end of the tunnel. Thus becoming easily visible.
With less down-tuned guitars, Hooded Menace provide good melodies for just over 40 minutes in a shovelling manner. The expression borrows from funeral, and offers slow but pleasant moods and beautiful gloom. Still, they are lighter on the feet and swifter in motion. The atmosphere no longer reek as suspiciously of depression and depravity, though “the end of the tunnel” can soon prove to be a dead end. Never trust a chameleon in a tunnel.
I'm not stubbornly going to claim that this is the band's best full-length, but it's the Hooded Menace album that has appealed most from the very first moment, and that has given me the most in return for time spent in its company. And it's a great album regardless of comparison. As Effigies of Evil (2012) is the only of the band's five albums I haven't heard, I'm still confident that Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed is the band's magnum opus. Rating: 5
Indie Recordings, 26.01.18
Almost 11 years have passed since Norwegian In Vain released their first album, The Latter Rain. In due time before that, they had both demo and EP on the market.
It is now almost five years since Ænigma was released. It is one of the oldest albums featured on this site.
On Ænigma, the band had reduced its extremity slightly, and allowed its progressive sides to flourish. A side that is now in full bloom, without heaviness and thrust being completely phased out.
In 2018, the band can celebrate 15 years of continuous perfectionistic development.
Let's start with my succinct coverage of Ænigma, released by Indie Recordings in March 2013, and presented when the Norwegian version of Gorger's Metal went on air in November the same year:
Based in Kristiansand, In Vain release their third full length, and it's a natural development we witness. The word “perfection” is on the tip of my tongue, so to speak. Not all melodically leaning bands have the ability to write actual melodies, but it doesn't seem as if the guys in In Vain have any such problems. Their progressive Death/Black Metal contains everything you need from the genre. Good variation, melodies with clever transitions, good execution and ditto sound.
I could have written a lot more, but stream the album on Bandcamp in stead.
My recommendation: Hymne til Havet (Hymn to the Sea).
Lyrically, Currents deals with the currents in society, for better or worse. The world changes faster than ever. With new technology, the world has become smaller, and more and more impulses are picked up from foreign cultures. In addition, each generation experiences its own version of reality. All this offers opportunities and challenges. Mistrust to all that is alien (whether xenophobia or just some scepticism) along with a generational gap, can easily lead to tensions and conflicts, while at the same time offering opportunities. An expanded horizon can in part contribute to increased knowledge, self-awareness and quality of life, if cultivated and harvested with care.
With Currents, In Vain even offers some modern currents in the form of a touch of metallic modernism. The disc opens with rhythms and vocals I associate with metalcore and hardcore, and the song Blood We Shed begin and end with rhythms that gives associations to bands the world would've been just fine without. (In my never humble eyes and ears.) In Vain nevertheless integrates these inconvenient elements with technical panache.
The rest of the album, on the other hand, offers a lots of great music. Whether it's progressive strokes, soft moods, good and pleasant melodies or unexpected transitions. The remaining sequences of said songs, also work well. The guitar work and the wind section in the last minute of Seekers of the Truth is simply exquisite. A sensation of going back in time, also occur. In En forgangen tid (Times of Yore Pt. II) (meaning A Bygone Era...), In Vain takes us on a nostalgic journey down memory lane. Partly because it continues where the song Times of Yore from Ænigma left off, but also because it literally has an archaic mood of yore. Not entirely unlike parts of the atmosphere on the last two albums from Helheim.
What characterizes In Vain, besides clever song writing and melodic gems, is professional execution. If you were to highlight the amazing guitar works, you'd also be forced to mention the vital bass, and then the equally lively percussion would of course have to be praised. Likewise, both clearly articulated growling and impeccable cleans are delivered with panache. Sindre Nedland, the man with the golden larynx, can still in particular be mentioned due to his crystal clear voice.
The album is otherwise stuffed with guests. The Hammond organ is in place, to my great pleasure, and we find authentic pipe organ, violin, viola, cello and saxophone. Even the drummer, Baard Kolstad, is hired for the occasion. Jens Bogren has tampered with the sound and made for impeccable euphonious bliss.
The version I'm rewarded is the standard version, with 7 songs and just over 42 minutes playing time. A special version with two additional songs and more exclusive wrapping is also available. That one makes a real mess of the order of songs, and reportedly clock in at close to an hour, but I'm not burdening with that version, so don't take my word for it.
With unpredictability, euphony and a number of excellent musical sequences, In Vain anew delivers music that is well-suited for feinschmeckers (musical gourmets or connoisseurs). It took me a lot of time to get Currents underneath the skin, and new details are still materializing. Thus, I suspect the album of good longevity as well. Rating: 5
Satanath Records&The Eastern Front, 14.12.17 Garhelenth is a duo from Iran & Georgia, now residing in Armenia. The band was formed in 2010, and has been inspired by black metal from a more northern latitude.
The album with the long title About Pessimistic Elements & Rebirth Of Tragedy, is in itself rather short, with a duration of just under half an hour.
Having lent my ear to one of the best songs on-line, I had high hopes for this work. The album doesn't entirely live up to these high expectations, but after adjusting my anticipation to a more realistic level, the band more than meets my requirements.
The album opens with an intro where the volume drops, something that is quite inverted in my book. After this we turn up the volume to six hymns to the night, and the inherent nature of darkness. Parts of the material, especially in the first two songs, have a straight-for-the-jugulars approach. However, the pace is not turned entirely to the max. Gorgorot and Inquisition can be mentioned as a rough indication of expression. Particularly in Destruction Of The Will, while subsequent Foolish Conscience has a more primitive, blasphemous, thrashed touch.
Hilnorgoth and Sagroth both handles guitar and vocals. The former is however main vocalist. No one is credited for neither percussion nor programming. After a few songs where the two lads floor it, the songs Self-Humiliation and To Impersonal Mankind offer a greater degree of raven black mood. Especially the latter appeals to this nefarious individual. Moral To Pessimist becomes a small step back in this respect. It might not stay on the same glorious diabolical level, but fear not, it doesn't spoil the impression either. When the newcomers from the Caucasus finish off with somewhat peculiar Perspective Of Exorbitant, I'm altogether very pleased.
The duo offers an honest piece of good work of classical and timeless black metal crafts. The material is partly very solid and the quality is consistently high, though not everything is as captivating. Garhelenth doesn't plough new land, but rather tread familiar paths in their own way, with confidence, and heads raised proudly. Of course, the music can't be called innovative, as such. Black lamentation has nevertheless been carried out so much more generically, so many times before, that Garhelenth in no way deserves to be labelled “mediocre”. I come across new, cheap black metal reproductions on a daily basis that lack the true spirit. This is real, elitist wares, that just needs to mature. The music is thoroughly executed, but the band has a ways to go before they find them selves at the top of their (and this) game. But the potential for something greater than the sum of the members, is definitely present. Rating: 4+
Almost three years ago, I presented EP number two from Australian Rise of Avernus. Dramatis Personæ was my first meeting with the band. I referred to their relatively mild and comfortable symphonic and proggy death/ doom as an oasis in the extreme metal desert.
The band is here with their sophomore full-length.
The title Eigengrau, an “inherent” grey colour, refers to a dark grey/blue colour that many perceive in complete darkness due to action potentials to the optic nerve. Even the night sky is perceived as more black than total darkness, because of the contrast created by the stars.
Like last time around, the orchestral components are completely and perfectly integrated into the music. Grand piano and the string quartet, meets guitar, drums, clean vocals and deep growls, in a rich but clear soundscape. As expected, the dynamic range is far from spectacular, but the sound feels about as airy as you can hope for with this many single elements present in the mix. Former Machine Head guitarist Logan Mader has taken care of the final stages of the production.
Eigengrau's eight compositions last for just over three quarters of an hour all together. The melodies of the songs are cleverly structured and glide with a pleasant flow. What kind of tag to put on music where the metallic aspect belongs to a milder segment of extreme landscapes, ain't easy to determine. Death grunts and not very dominant guitars are halfway hidden behind orchestral elements with an epic atmosphere, where the many nuances of the moods ebb and flow in a sliding way. Just as reality is rarely black and white, but rather characterized by shades of grey, or eigengrau, Rise of Avernus can be difficult to pigeon-hole with militant precision.
One of Rise of Avernus' most relevant references is Septicflesh, due to the prominent role of the symphony. The Greeks' own Seth Siro Anton has by the way designed the cover art. The Australians are still much softer 'round the edges. Another reference is Dimmu Borgir. Newer Dimmu is especially an obvious reference in the song Tempest. For other reference bands, we must move in a more Gothic direction, to entities such as Orphanage or After Forever - without direct comparison - for the music is of a rather harmless sort.
Eigengrau is a solid piece of music, and can of course be recommended to fans of a rather light-metallic, majestic, orchestral and slightly pompous expression. Rating: 4+
I, Voidhanger Records, 19.01.18 Yhdarl is a Belgian duo that really manages to impress on my first encounter with them. The band has admittedly been very active during its just over ten years of existence. Yhdarl was initially a one-man band where Belgian Déhà steered the ship on his own. The man has ties to several dozen bands, and is known from, among others, We All Die (Laughing) and Clouds, just to name a few.
All of this was still completely unknown to me, until after having heard Loss at least half a dozen times.
By than, I had begun to suspect the vocalist of belonging to the less dominant gender within pitch black, miserable metal. You can never be sure, though. After reading up on just what the hell I was actually listening to, I learned that Déhà was the man behind Yhdarl, and that he has worked with the French chick Larvalis Lethæus from album number five, Ave Maria (2011), and onward. Both contribute vocals, while she handles the keyboard, and he takes care of all the remaining instruments. In addition, four guests contribute to further unease. Old (Drohtnung, ex-Wardaemonic) delivers ritual noises, choirs and voices, while Daniel Neagoe (Clouds, Ennui*, Eye Of Solitude, Shape of Despair* and more), Woundheir and Yavor (both from Dimholt) offers screaming vocals.
Loss, as the title suggest, is not a merry session. On the contrary, it's misery and dejection that is conveyed through coal black furore. The album consists of three songs only, but with a total playing time of about 50 minutes, Yhdarl has plenty of time to drench the listener thoroughly in doomy hopelessness. In spite of 15-20 minutes each, we're not talking black syrup, slowly devouring the listener as muddy black/doom quicksand. Yhdarl offers variation in its hypnotic drift, and finds room for both pace and strokes that'll shake the listener violently with furious aversion.
I've probably described music in a similar wording - bordering on the irksome, but all in all, that doesn't matter. For when profane moods drip like melting expanded polystyrene, burning in the ceiling, or hammering use of double bass pedals shake the foundations, and when sharp vocals shriek in pain and deep growls gurgles while drowning in tar, I'm completely sold. Especially when the compositional structure and natural flow works as well as in the currents of these bottomless black waters. And especially in the sequences where blast beats dominate while crass, rasping harshness is emitted from Larvalis' throat, almost like a coiling black viper soiled by coagulated blood. For example, in the minutes before the middle of Despise - Pity.
Those who become disturbed by comments about bodily fluids and vomit of a serpentine kind, are advised to steer away. Those who take grotesque nasties with a healthy doze of gallows humour, or who in a sickly serious manner enjoying morbid perversities, are advised to give Loss a try. Hell knows how the album compares to Yhdarl's remaining discography, though. Rating: 5-
War Anthem&Into Endless Chaos, 19.01.18
A Norwegian proverb claims that someones' name doesn't bring them shame. Behind a somewhat cheesy moniker and a messy cover, we find very solid black metal from Leipzig in Germany. Evil Warriors is a trio where all members also play live for the band Vent. Vent otherwise consists of only one man who is also a part of Lihhamon. Lihhamon released a split with the band I I last year. I I, in turn, consist of two of the guys in Evil Warriors.
The band, which is new to me, was started just over ten years ago, and released their first album in 2011.
Raw tremolo - cold and merciless as an icicle through the heart - opens Fall From Reality. Frenetic rhythms follow before ungodly vocals makes themselves known. Admittedly, I'm not acquainted with the lyrical content, but the burning enthusiasm and eagerness of the band shines through, leaving a strong sense of the devil's imprint. As if Lucifer's glowing message is conveyed through telepathy.
Evil Warriors plays furious black metal, with barbed wire riffs hard as petrified bones, and devilish moods. Hasty rhythms and an often sadistic pace, blow like a biting wind with fragments of broken glass. Quiet sequences occur, but a disturbing sense of an evil presence never lets go. The vocal is stalwart, rasping and cutting, but also sore, characterized by bitterness and pain. Juicy subcooled sound, quite fitting of the rampage of the north wind, overarch Fall From Reality.
I've been groping in the dark for the right words long enough. Without really succeeding. Further elaboration is strictly superfluous, though. Whoever take pleasure in true black metal with an unpleasant arrogant gust of bygone greatness, will probably fall for Fall From Reality. Just like Lucifer in that old cock-and-bull story. Rating: 5