Not everyone who fiddles with technical whims have as much control on the melodic side of the music, and far from everyone that
flirts with technicality and progressive concoctions has the same flair for the songwise aspects as for the instrumental ones.
Meet Luna's Call, a band that has full control of the entire musical spectrum.
The more than competent British prog-death trio Luna's Call are courting for attention, promoting their
work far and wide, and I'm easily seduced. By the music, that is.
The band has been inspired by vintage progressive rock and recent technical metal, fusing together the ingredients to
an amalgam with intricate patterns and solid friction. That the guys have been called “a more brutal Opeth”
actually makes sense.
Sometimes it would be okay to have an exemption card. “Advance to GO without having to describe the music. Collect $200,
blow most of it on beer and chill in the sun while enjoying the music”. Reveries. I better give you a vague idea of the
contours of the essence. Just enough to make you curious.
If we skip the strangest sounds of the introductory piece, we'll lands in the grand piano. After a classical piano score,
drums and violins makes their entrance with great fanfare, before the overall melody breaks up with transitions and tempo
changes, both natural and unexpected. Aggressive parts, symphonic loops, fierce vocals, gentle vocals, cascades, torrents,
calm chuckling rivers with wooden makeshift toy boats slowly floating about...
Describing music with this many elements and details that intricately crosses each other's tangled paths - while the Song
with an upper-case S constantly leads a steady course, staked out by a captain with nearly prophetic abilities, able to
predict many a following move in chess, with all their countless possibilities and combinations - is asking for trouble.
Let's just say that the band blends its genre-elixir with panache, while constantly coming up with new and exciting twists,
and keeping the listener in an iron grip from start to finish. Take the lovely flute in Day of Reverence
So, what can prevent Luna's Call from occupying 2016's year-end summary lists like one of last year's
most memorable bands within the same landscape, Alkaloid, did? Primarily, the trio lacks those famous names that
let the Germans have media and audience in the palm of their hands almost before the first note was published. Besides,
the sound misses that very last finishing touch, to be rather finicky. Misunderstand me correctly. Divinity
at times sounds superb. The calm elements in particular, piano, acoustic guitars, organ, flute and more, together with the
vocals, has a clean and clear sound that is absolutely formidable. What I miss, though, is a little more richness in the
riffs and generally a little more dynamic punch that could have created greater contrast. I am, as said, being difficult
now and this aspect barely constitutes a fraction of the whole. The sound is a tad intense at times, as in the end of
the title track, but it poses no problem in the long run. The dynamic range otherwise lays mostly on respectable DR8-DR9.
To summarize my eager enthusiasm; Divinity is a structural masterpiece that deserves your full and utter
attention if you have a taste for bands like Hidden in the Fog, Alkaloid and others wearing their crowns
in the prog-technical extreme metal landscape.
Via Nocturna, 29.05.16 Heaven Grey comes from Latvia, and performs a form of mild symphonic and gothic doom with a sense of rock opera.
The band was started as far back as 1993, then as a death metal band, but inspiration from the death/doom scene eventually
caused a change of style.
The band managed to release one album in the nineties, before unfortunate fatality caused a longer hiatus. In 2007 the band
became active again, and they're now out with their third album.
The music has a melancholic touch of loss and grief, while the vocals also offers a bit of bitterness. The vocals are
twofold, where the most extreme vocals has a somewhat rasping touch, without touching upon growl, while the other offers
clean vocals with a touch of opera to his voice. The band's metal-musical succeed in creating a burdensome mood of sadness
and despair, where some songs work better than others. What works less for my part is the dry vocals that sometimes reminds
too much of certain characters from the Muppet Show.
With elements of death/doom, goth- and symphonic metal, one might envision a young and undeveloped hybrid of Anathema,
Theatre of Tragedy and Haggard. I'm on thin ice what more direct references concerns. The closest I can
think of off the top of my head, is bands like Therion and Tiamat, and they're not quite the same.
The performance seems a clue unfinished, especially in terms of guitar works that at times sounds almost out of key, but
the writing skills certainly ain't too bad. The symphonic elements work well, and the music as mentioned creates gloomy
moods of tragedy. The sound is fairly alternating. There's a big difference in sound quality from the orchestra to the
metallic elements. The sounds of the synthesizer-symphonies are very clear, while particularly the rhythm guitar sounds
It's not unlikely that the band could become more refined over the years, but I'm not entirely convinced thus far. The
music might generally be a bit more pompous than dramatic, but although this tends to have kind of a niche-flair, there's
probably a core audience out there, and I see no reason not to recommend them to check out Manuscriptum.
Blizzen is according to the press release a band amongst other in the front line of a new wave of traditional
German heavy metal.
After a positive meeting with them on the EP Time Machine last year, it'll be interesting to see where they're heading on their debut
Time Machine had a sonic underground charm that isn't as pronounced here. It might sound a little more
professional in a way, but also a tiny bit more clinical, to put it that way. Some of the rawness is toned down, and
although the dynamics have gone from good (DR8) to better (DR9), the punch from the EP have also been dampened somewhat.
The song Gone Wild can be found on both releases, providing a good basis for comparison. The sound is good,
by all means, but where Time Machine sonically had a bit of the “naive” charm of Walls of Jericho,
Genesis Reversed sounds a little more ordinary and characterless.
The material is basically approvable, with airy and varied structuring, but the songs on the EP were in my ears more memorable.
Some of the songs are unfortunately a tad too smooth and generic, as they slavishly follow the recipe with quite
catchy melodies and simple verse-chorus structures. The high pitched vocals, to top it of, giving the music an almost unintentional
Genesis Reversed contains absolutely okay German heavy metal, which admittedly ain't archetypal radio friendly,
but that unfortunately gets a little too frictionless for yours truly this time. The album probably works excellent as background
music for your next barbecue party, or as car-friendly companion for this summer's road trips, but for concentrated listening
the album feels slightly harmless and toothless to me.
The album may be technically better than the album below, but I also consider it more characterless. Thereby, we end up in the
middle of the road. If you're hungry for classic old school heavy metal I would rather recommend you take the enjoyable
Time Machine back to the genre's heyday.
Gates Of Hell Records, 27.05.16 Yeth Hound is not an obscure, rough diamond that has been tucked away and forgotten in a cardboard box in
an attic since the 80s. Typhon's Doom is neither British, nor a full band.
This is the result of Finnish Tommy Varsala's penchant for heavy metal of the old school. Yeth Hound was released independently in January with five songs and 25 minutes, but was recently released
with the release with the self-explanatory name Demo '15 as bonus.
It doesn't take many minutes to figure out that this ain't comparable to the 80's cream of the crop, but it doesn't take
long before Typhon's Doom's charm works its magic either.
Both sound and style stand out in its own distinctive way whatever era I try to compare with. The sound has a reverberation
as if it was taped live in a bunker and the vocals have a slightly sharp and jarring touch that it takes time to get used to.
This may become a small trial for some potential listeners. The guitar work are fresh and occasionally features very vital
skills. Everything executed wearing the heart on the patch-covered denim vest.
The cover doesn't reveal much, but this was surprisingly tough. Tommy Varsala should of course work a bit
more on memorable songs, but he's definitely on to something, and fans of heavy metal served in a somewhat unusual manner
should definitely take a listen.
Along with Chilean Slaughtbbath, this is a vista of various corridors of the black labyrinthine
universe, lasting for almost fifteen minutes.
In eight minutes long Whited, Pestilent Sepulchre..., Ill Omen still delivers oppressive
moods, but this time with a slightly more atmospheric and monotonous character. It's sluggish, and the sound is resounding.
I am a bit disappointed because I don't see this as on par with what the Australian has done before. The song is not bad,
but I think you'll find that you can do without it.
I havem't encountered Slaughtbbath before. The Chileans released their first demo in 2003, and their
debut album ten years later. Meanwhile, the band has participated in a shit-load of splits. The band is said to share
members with Temple
The song Inverted Hierophany brings a darker pitch and pretty cool drive. The first half of the six-minute
song takes place in slow pace, while vocalist Desecrator frothingly utters his rabies-infested decrees.
From there on, the pace increased, and the guitars go from heavy riffs to airier lines.
Whited, Pestilent Sepulchre... is a decent song, and Inverted Hierophany is a pretty
cool song, but I'm afraid none of them stand out in the big picture, and Pestilential Hierophanies can
probably be passed over in silence, unfortunately. I was hoping to become a little bit more impressed by this. The fourfold
cover sleeve is reasonably stylish, though. Like Temple Below's great artistic triptych, Desecrator,
aka Nekronikon, has also painted this quadruple cover.
Venture over to
No Clean Singing to hear the two songs. NCS
chief Islander has a greater liking for this than yours truly, and who knows, it could be that you have to.
Osmose Productions, 27.05.16 Elderblood is a Ukrainian band, that with five years behind them must endure being referred to as a new
band. The band's second album was created as a duo, which nothing in their music bears witness to.
With certain ritual elements of Rotting Christ, a symphonic slant, and dramatics from Septicflesh and Dimmu
Borgir, and majestic grandeur in keeping with Behemoth, the guys attempts to create epic magic...
Messiah consists of 43 minutes where just about every cliché is exploited for what they're worth. The
album has become a very audible work that most symfo-black fans probably will be able to enjoy, but it still becomes a
rather cheap replica. Where all the aforementioned bands have released immortal albums, Elderblood feels
a clue tame and anaemic by comparison. The guys apply all the right ingredients, but they do not succeed entirely.
After hearing the album quite a few times, I would say that it's lacking a bit in the song material. It's almost as if
they try too hard and end up with a bit calculated, yet incorrectly estimated structures.
The men falls short on friction, and the result is a bit pompous and smooth, without any ability for the music to attach
In addition, the sound is a bit too intense and it's not very dynamic, making the euphonious attributes decrease when the
volume is increased.
On top of it all, I have a slightly tense relationship with the vocals, which feels a bit contrived.
At the same time, it doesn't hurt to listen to Messiah. The album is not too polished and sterile.
The songs have a lot of bombastic drama, and fair variation within the songs. The instrumentation is good, and the symphonic
components are incorporated in very good way.
I basically enjoy listening to Elderblood's sophomore album, otherwise I would have capitulates a long time
ago. Based on expectations after the preliminary rounds, I'm still a bit disappointed to how almost this album is,
and how little that has adhered to mind when the day is over. I've lived with this album for a good few days, and remember
precious little. Indeed it is not even much that is directly recognizable. Oh well, you certainly won't get tired very soon.
The album also seems better than the debut, Son of the Morning, so there's at least some progress to be traced.
The music is also so alright that I define it as tolerably good, despite some criticism. Hear Thagirion's Sun:
Folter Records, 27.05.16
Who is cunning enough to use the name of a cold Norwegian city in order to attract attention? Well, a band from southern
Germany that changed their name from Asgard after one year of activity, when common source of inspiration,
Madrugada's Robert Burås from Narvik, passed away in 2007.
Some would argue that cold, dystopic black metal comes best to its own during freezing, hostile winter weather, but when
Redeemer chants “I see darkness in light...” during Wounds of Aspiration, it really
puts it in an appropriate perspective even on an otherwise lovely early summer day.
Besides, red hot fiery rays of sun and icy frostbitten permafrost has in common that both stings like hell on freshly
shaven balls. Okay, that was a joke.
Through a little over 40 minutes, the Germans balances between atonal and conventional black metal with a small depressive
flair. The men juggles playfully with guitar-based peculiarities, where they also borrows a bit from odd kaleidoscopic
landscapes. The music even has an inherent post-metallic monotony, but it's like putting a hedgehog in a grey plastic bag;
contours of spines will shine brightly through, and eventually perforate the bag and put their mark on the whole. With
steady rhythmic progression and a fairly tangled multitude of melodies and asymmetrical guitar passages, good drive is
created, along with a strong basis for a determined demand for attention.
Should the sun's infra-red rays become too bothersome, you can always cool down with some German black metal where the
lyrics are inspired by esoteric transcendental spiritual magic in line with the left hand path. The band's debut went
under my radar in 2013, but Ascension to Apotheosis can be safely recommend if the description sounds
And just to mentione it... No, Narvik by no means sound as radio-friendly as Madrugada.
Watch the video for
The Shore, and enjoy the rest of the album right here.
Iron Bonehead, 27.05.16
In 2009, Acherontas V.Priest and N.E.C.R.O, two men with ties to a total of about 20
bands, determined to unleash their dark creativity through a more esoteric approach and a different expression than what
they normally operated with. Fotis Bernado (Necromantia, ex-Septicflesh) was hired as a session drummer.
The two-track EP Qliphothic Rites of Death (2010) was a one-time happening, and the band broke up
A limited edition has made this a hidden “gems” in the Greek black/death context.
The underground is however rather big and just as more people deserves to be granted access to this rarity, it probably
deserves more awareness too. Ergo, Iron Bonehead re-releases it now.
Six minutes long Sitra Ahra brings spiritual moods via an atmospheric an ceremonial touch with ritual
vocal whispering, occasionally adorned by rapid percussion, swirling guitars and some deadly riffs.
One minute shorter Serpent's Divinity launches a bit like the first ended, with spiritual avant-garde
tones, before delightful rolling rhythms, then bass, guitar and finally vocals joins in. An effective way to attract
attention from the very first drumbeat. More ritualistic metal follows with short transitions, although the basis remains
throughout the song.
The sound is decent according to the 2010 standard, and the music is enjoyable, if not sensational in any way. An 11-minute
long side-project won't become an important part of the record collection, unless you happen to be a geeky Greek black metal
completist. For everyone else, this remains an interesting curiosity that nevertheless contains fairly trivial metal in the
Prosthetic Records, 27.05.16
Three of the five Swedish death fanatics in Helsingborg-based Gutter Instinct have experience from the
split-up thrash band Zero Tolerance.
After a demo and an EP, the first full length offers swirling brutal intensity in a sonic hell. Some similarities can be
traced with Vainaja below, in the sense that both offer a macabre dark expression with a typhoon like chaotic
sense of anxiety and confusion, and a tsunami's massive punch. These similarities are albeit shared with many, and does
not constitute grounds for relevant comparison.
But, to use Vainaja as an example; the Finns are skilled, almost exemplary, when it comes to content. The Swedes
are not hopeless, but there is less meat and potato to sink the teeth into. The death metal is fierce, frenetic and aggressive,
but the freight train is somewhat more streamlined.
The style and expression belong in a dirty, cold, grim and unholy tomb. The band blends the classic Swedish buzzsaw metal
à la Entombed with occult sepulchral death metal like Grave Miasma, while they approach the insane brutality of Teitanblood et al.
I have nothing negative to say about the style. This is ultra blasphemous death-glorification with a sound that threatens
to pulverize the eardrums, and the mixture works very well.
The men offer the basic, fundamental ingredients, and create tough, right in the denture, death metal that is once again
reminiscent of a fucking huge armoured meat grinder decorated with barbed wire and razor-sharp rotating spearheads,
with high propulsion on continuous tracks, traversing busy streets down-town at cruise speed, trawling and grinding human
meat in a endless bloodshed.
Age Of The Fanatics ain't entirely frictionless, but the album recycles a bit too much for me to go
completely amok. In addition, there's a bit too many sections that just keeps on going without any of those extras. Such
as more grindcore inspired No Place for the Cross, which just becomes futile and pointless.
The guys lash out against greedy corporations, political corruption and organized religion. Horns up for that. Meanwhile,
they welcome the apocalypse. They apparently take the bad with the evil, or something like that. In short, all the cynical
douchebag cunts you inevitably have to deal with in one way or another, begets more cynicism and disgust, which in turn
leads to a nihilistic view.
With a whole lot of nitpicking in place, you might think that the slaughtering knives were sharpened for some butchering,
but it's still hard not to be damned charmed when Gutter Instinct blare and blast away with occasionally
wonderful profanity, such as Bridge of Broken Bones, Death Cult or Exile, only to take a few
examples. The expression is hard as a headbutt and the forceful infamous sound echoes in the catacombs.
The guy's music can be kind of generic, somewhat superfluous, and perhaps forgettable, but it can also be rather great.
Despite some staccato beats, the album mostly got varied and good drumming, along with brutal riffing and other string
wielding and the animalistic vocals. The album is highly audible, at times quite killer, but with enhanced material, I'm
sure the guys will wipe out a larger territory in the future. Remember, this is just the debut, and a good one too. I
cross my fingers and await doomsday.
Svart Records, 27.05.16
Finnish Vainaja virtually caused a furore with their debut Kadotetut a couple of years
ago and greedily helped themselves to their share of the spotlight on year end lists. I must have made a slip on my own
The band continues with their basically interesting concept, which this time dives further into the fictional sect after the discovery of the
book Verenvalaja, with writings made by cult leader Wilhelm Waenaa. With Finnish lyrics, however, that
doesn't help us much. Unless, of course, the booklet offers translations, but thereof the press letter unfortunately
As the last time around, we're exposed to leaden song material. A hybrid of Kuolemanlaakso, Triptykon
and Necros Christos with a sound touching on drone. In fact, I find Verenvalaja even more
oppressive and claustrophobic than Kadotetut, as the debut had a more spacious expressions divided into
nine tracks, while Verenvalaja distribute its frantic dystopian discomfort on six prolonged tracks with
less breathing space. There's still dynamics to the song material, where steady variation ensures an eventful course.
In the overall production, however, the dynamics have gone the opposite way. Kadotetut originally held
a dynamic range of
typically DR4-DR5, while the vinyl master was favoured with a 24-bit HDR (high dynamic range) of DR11 on average, courtesy
of Dan Swanö. This is also available digitally.
On Verenvalaja, the dynamic range has increased to an average of DR7 for the ordinary master, but even here
Mr. Swanö has tuned a HDR vinyl master, this time to as much as DR14. This one's also available
digitally. The other aspects of the production are otherwise carefully attended for with clarity,
richness and forceful thrust.
If the music has a greater degree of this confined feel of stuffy, rotten and stale air; a feeling of being buried alive,
it's still studded with black emeralds. With intricate, anguished rhythms, different bass-themes and ethereal frequencies
comes and goes along with deep, yet soaring guitar leads that floats like repelling magnetic poles between the atonal and
the melodic without being linked to any of them. The vocal gargles in cement and spits coagulated blood with deep grunts,
while touches of clean vocal futilous attempts to relieve frayed nerves. One can never be sure of what lies around the
next dark corner, for this band incorporates occasional unthinkable surprises...
This profane work is guested by guitarist Lasse Pyykkö (Hooded Menace and more) with solos on
Sielu and Usva and Jarkko Nikkilä (Valonkantajat) with clean-vocal contributions
on the same tracks as well as on Risti and Kehto.
Verenvalaja is yet again a very good work of extremely dark art from Vainaja, although
I think I'd put Kadotetut a tiny notch higher. I did waver a bit between good and
very good, but ultimately landed on the latter.
Battlegod Productions, 20.05.16 Harm is a thrash metal band from Mandal, Norway's southernmost town. Despite nearly 20 years in the game,
they're hardly widely known quite yet. It's admittedly only ten years since the first album was presented. I checked out
their last album, Demonic Alliance from 2011, after a review in Scream Magazine, but can't
remember having heard or read about the band anywhere else.
Like the cover art of their releases, the band has matured and grown over the years and by now, I'd
say they deserve some recognition among fans of pure no-nonsense thrash, akin to the Teutonic kind.
To the extent that we must relate to any appended quirks, it's a frenetic whiff of death and a black-scorched halitosis
of sulphur that surrounds them like a dirty, drunken aura of blood and gore, but that kind of spices probably doesn't
pose a threat (or should I say harm) to a real thrash-maniac. It's not unnatural to compare this trio
with the mighty Teutonic trio; Destruction, Sodom and Kreator, but you can boost it up with
a little injection of Demonical.
Vocalist and bassist Steffan Schulze (ex-Antares Predator, ex-Scariot) seems to be the
only remaining member in a band that's seen its share of replacements. Since the previous record, the two other members
has been replaced. New members in this ruthless posse is Kevin Kvåle (Horizon Ablaze) on drums
and Nicolay Johnsen (Zerozonic) on guitar.
Harm debuted with Devil in 2006, and the album was re-released by Battlegod Productions
last year, with plenty of bonus material in the form of demo material. The band has, as mentioned, gradually improved.
They might not take the world by storm with October Fire either, although it is allowed to hope. The music
becomes a little bit too ordinary for that. Harm is of course reasonable devoid of uniqueness. Even the sharp, blackened vowels has been used before.
The extreme metal is about as original as the classic artistic statement saying that the latest album is by far the best,
even if that may actually be true in this context. That the band's got guts and the balls to utter the words “They are
not bringing anything to this world, so why bother?” in the song Executioner, either witnesses of well-developed
self-irony or the lack of self-knowledge. Joke aside, the words are of course set in a wholly different context. Besides...
what fucking difference does lack of singularity make in a scene where most are in the same boat, when both song material,
sound and technical execution holds such a consistent high level as here?
The Norwegians delivers almost 40 minutes of furious anger with proper exterminating songs worth both time and money if you live
and breathe dark adrenaline-fuelled amphetamine-metal. Harm might not offer a calorie bomb of intricate and
sophisticated substance, but the songs have energy and aggression that oozes metal whilst hurling out of harsh riffs,
good rhythms and transitions, delightful morbid solos, massive punch, a genuine dose of murderous moods and nice variety.
I was a bit hesitant initially, but October Fire surprises with killer tracks with enough detail to
bear the description refined thrash. Ass kicking!
The band has a few videos on fakebook, with so bad sound that I'm afraid they'll do more harm
than good. I will investigate further and get back to you, hopefully with a sonic sample, as soon as I know anything more.
EDIT 02.06.16: Now you can check out Devastator entirely on your own.
Inverse Records&Redhouse FMP, 20.05.16
Most Scandinavians, and likely many other English speaking people, would probably have some difficulties distinguishing
between folk tunes from the «Empire of the Sun» and the «Middle Kingdom», Japan and China. We'll have to forgive 'em if
they in turn ain't able to distinguish different musical ethnic expressions of the western world.
Whether Finnish Whispered knows what they're doing, or is just good at pretending, I have no insight to
speculate about, though I suspect that someone in the band has a slightly above average competence in that field.
The quartet is hardly entirely in the dark, as the band's founder, lead singer and guitarist Jouni Valjakka,
have a genuine fondness for Japan, and the country's cultural history, and considering that authentic Japanese instruments
shamisen, shakuhachi and koto are made use of to shape the band's sound.
I unfortunately have no idea if this album has a concept or leitmotif, as the band seemingly has had a habit of adding.
In 2014, when reviewing the bands sophomore Shogunate Macabre to 5 of 6 points, I reported about a band
playing a genre hybrid between melodic death metal, symphonic black metal, power metal and oriental folk metal. I could
almost have translated and recycled that review, for Metsutan - Songs Of The Void pretty much brings more
of the same, and the quality is not too far from the same level either. I admittedly don't remember the occasional sequences
of orchestral elements being quite as markedly. In addition, the quality of the songs do vary a bit more this time, from
the masterful to the somewhat more simple.
It actually feels quite adequate that it's a Finnish band that decided to adopt and combine oriental folk with
metal. Traditional Japanese instrumentation, it seems to me, generally has a soaring atmospheric, beautiful and slightly
epic feel. Something you also find a lot of among the more melodic Finnish bands. Monumental, melancholic and well-structured
melodic metal has almost become a trademarks of the thousand lakes.
Like last time, this is very well done. There's a lot of melody here, but as with Shogunate Macabre I miss
the greatest melodic hooks. If you play the album often enough, you'll have no problems recognize the songs, but remembering
the details between battles can be a bit worse. The compositions amalgamates folk music and metal in seamless harmony, but
the big overarching lines, the overall coherent compositions, the recipe for classic songs, is to some degree still lurking
somewhere in the band's horizon and, hopefully, future.
This album is mostly a wonderful experience while being played, even if I nitpick a bit. It's fairly exciting and funny
how the band blends in a little circus and drama in a song like Exile of the Floating World. Without going
into details and listing songs, excellent Bloodred Shores of Enoshima definitely has to be mentioned. In
this 11 minute long sea monster, the symphonic orchestra and mixed choir grows out of any former proportions, and constructs
a splendid spectacle that at times reminds me of Winterhorde's magnum opus Maestro, and at other times it induce a feeling
as if the rejuvenated magic of Hogwarts itself had been invoked. Mighty and magnificent!
If you're buying only one samurai metal album this year...
Agonia Records, 20.05.16
Swedish In Mourning has reached their fourth album. Personally, I have a somewhat ambivalent relationship
to the band.
The band's style is often defined as melodic and progressive death/doom, but the band has also incorporated elements of
post-metal and modernist tendencies over the years. I have however not noticed the early Gothic vibes that metal archives
The band left the worst modern elements behind them after the first two albums, and The Weight of Oceans
was a positive surprise. With Afterglow, the band continues down a quite similar road, without these new
melodies and structures impressing quite as much.
Afterglow has a more monotonous post-death touch that at times feels vastly boring. I find it hard to
concentrate and my mind wanders elsewhere. What prevents disaster is the progressive twists and turns that comes unexpectedly
and forces the focus back on track, where it belongs.
The seven songs have a span of six to ten minutes, with a total running time of approximately 55 minutes. The lads are
undoubtedly talented musicians, and the sound is impeccable as expected, with clear, soaring guitars, exquisite percussion
and bass that massages the vestibulocochlear nerve. The band's new drummer, Daniel Liljekvist, is
transferred from Katatonia. The growled vocals are good, while the poppier clean vocals reminds me of Norwegian
pop sensations such as a-ha and Idol winner Kurt Nilsen. (Hear from 5:30 in Call to Orion
in particular.) The other four members also have experience from other bands. Some are associated with ensembles such as
Tide, Majalis and Volturyon.
There is, however, a certain shortage in the song-writing this time. I don't find any melody lines that really
elevates Afterglow. The soft-spoken atmospheric mood can however be quite hypnotic. Especially the title
track is fairly evocative.
The first two songs bore me a bit, but the album comes more into its own after that. Larger fans of atmospheric and progressive
post-metal will have more to gain here than me. In Mourning is closer to Insomnium and old
Opeth than Katatonia, but it probably helps to have a sense for the latter too. Afterglow is a bit soft and overall not particularly rewarding for me. Yet this is far from poor. If applying
ample patience, and giving the album the necessary time, it will eventually emerge as comfortable and relaxing. And so, I'm
not as negative as my objections may indicate. Nevertheless, I will argue that this music largely depends on one initially
being in the right setting, atmosphere and mood. When I'm in a state of tranquillity, I like the album quite well.
Furthermore, you shall of course not rely solely on me anyway. The band clearly masters all the objective criteria
for quality, and so this music, to a greater extent than much else, becomes entirely a matter of taste.
Listen and make up your own mind!
Werewolf Press&Plastic Head, 13.05.16
Please, put aside your Batman and Asterix for a while. We got more important stuff to discuss.
In October, Season of Mist will release the debut from the most notoriously dangerous band in the world. An
authentic misanthropic and blasphemous sect that means business. Fictitious Sons of Balaur from Oslo.
(Okay, you can stop chuckling now, you bastard.)
Meanwhile you can read a bit more about the background, no wait, future and legacy in the graphic novel
Realm of the Damned.
Here we meet vampires, lycanthropes, mummies, Van Helsing and a Norwegian black metal band in one hell of a carnage.
The demonic vampire Balaur, named after a dragon-like creature in Romanian folklore, was too bloodthirsty even
for his own kin, and was assassinated. In centuries the sect Sons of Balaur has sought the remaining
relic that can resurrect their wicked idol.
The world has gone to the dogs. Political and military governance has abolished. Fractions of vampires, werewolves and
semi-mythological Egyptian creatures, as well as their various followers have seized the power. The world is still not
reduced to a dystopic desert of ruins. A sinful variety of Sodom and Gomorrah, is perhaps a more adequate comparison.
Especially in the new head-quarter of the vampires; the Vatican.
A small Norwegian fraction of Sons of Balaur have founded a black metal band of the same name, and
somehow come across the missing relic. When Balaur is resurrected, it's the start of a bloody raid where revenge
and world domination is atop the agenda. The vampire hunter Van Helsing, that himself became the hunted as the
worlds power shifted, suddenly faces deep trouble and grave danger.
Alec Worley has written a delightful imaginative story that is inked down to the smallest little
beastly detail by Pye Parr.
The only thing I am disappointed by is how little this graphic novel actually has to do with metal. That
a black metal monger becomes Balaur's faithful, but not very valued servant, and that a few well-known
bands from Norway and Poland are in charge of entertainment in the Vatican, are practically the only black metal
Nevertheless, it's impossible not to have a great time with such an adventurous orgy in violence set in “colourful noir”.
Sons of Balaur's debut Tenebris Deos will be released on October 14.
I will of course cover the event. Werewolf Press is a new graphic novel publishing company run by one of Candlelight Records two
former owners, Steve Beatty. Candlelight Records was recently sold to Spinefarm Records,
and is now considered a sub-label.
On the home page you will find more information and samples. See also the slightly inane
It should be mentioned that this inked publication contains 120 pages. While I'm at it, I might add that this is
not an inflated pretentious works. It's admittedly not a piece of humorous comic book either, but the graphic novel
has the characteristics of burlesque gallows humour in its ingenious and creative storytelling, and the lively
drawings emphasizes this with utterly exquisite illustrations that is guaranteed to put a sardonic, satanic smile
on the reader's lips when the barbaric massacre set forth.
Relapse Records, 20.05.16
After having stopped by the original, Death, it may be fitting to continue with... Death... or rather
their representatives on earth, Gruesome, the band consisting of experienced death metal performers
that pays tribute to old Death.
Or maybe not. After yesterday's overdose, more of the same almost feels a bit redundant.
I went through the band's background in connection with the debut, Leprosy-inspired
Land. This time it's the album below, Scream Bloody Gore that is to be honoured. Of course with
cover art by Ed Repka.
Side A and B respectively are titled Death and Metal, and have three songs each.
As on the last occasion, it's hard as nails, authentic old school brutality with professional handling of instruments,
solos, rasping growls and galloping rhythms, without the music adhering quite as much as I'd hoped for.
Unlike last time, the sound ain't as airy and sharp. It all gets a little more woolly this time. The songs seem to be
a tiny bit weaker too, in addition to the style not feeling quite as fresh.
After passing my cerebellum or so a great number of times without making a big fuss, I'm left a bit unstirred by
Dimensions Of Horror. With only scarce 20 minutes one would think that it wouldn't take such a
hell of a long time to get acquainted with a few tunes. I therefore confine myself to a score a little above middle
of the road this time.
You might be of a different opinion, so if you can't get enough of old school Death, have at it.
Relapse Records, 20.05.16 Death's legendary debut (after more than 20 demos) Scream Bloody Gore from 1987 is
considered the first pure death metal-album. Death might have followed in the footsteps of Possessed,
who beat them to it by two years, but than with an expression more strongly affected by thrash.
In the aftermath of Death's early barbaric death metal, came bands like Obituary and
while undisputed band leader Chuck Schuldiner's more technical approach outwards the 90s had a bit more
in common with a band like Atheist.
When Relapse launches the umpteenth re-release of the album, as with Nemesis Divina a few notches below,
I don't intend to describe and judge the music, but rather just present it.
Scream Bloody Gore is of course re-mastered. This by Alan Douches. I unfortunately don't have
the original to compare to, but where that one according to the Dynamic Range Database had a dynamic range
of DR11, this has now fallen to DR6. The sound is, however rough and powerful.
This version will be released in various formats, with and without bonus tracks. The deluxe version has as much as 43 tracks,
while the version I have gained access to is the double-CD version. On the first disk we find the ten original songs plus
two bonus tracks from the same recording session, which was made available already on the second edition of the album, while
disk two is packed with rarities. (I admittedly don't know exactly how rare they are, but a lot/everything is
First, seven pre-productions/demos from a session in Florida before Schuldiner travelled to California,
hired a new crew and recorded the album in The Music Grinder in Los Angeles. Then follows ten tracks from rehearsals
in August 1986.
This reissue is of course complete with neat packaging and liner notes from the albums drummer and Autopsy-founder
Chris Reifert, the album's producer Randy Burns and Max Cavalera.
Disk two is basically for those with abnormal interests in Death.
W.T.C. Productions, 17.05.16
A name like True Black Dawn may seem somewhat arrogant and pretentious, but when some cantankerous American
band that hadn't even released so much as a fart before 1999 threatened with a lawsuit because one band in an entirely
different country and a completely different genre had accidentally adopted the same moniker years earlier, Finnish
Black Dawn simply put “True” in front of the existing name, not too unlike what Mayhem did many years earlier.
Still, True Black Dawn in any case lives up to the name!
The Finns started under the name of Nocturnal Feast in 1992, though, and released a demo, but they quickly
changed their name before another three demos were released in the nineties. The debut Blood for Satan was
released on both renowned and to some extant infamous Necropolis Records in 2001.
Little has happened since the band altered their name a year after the debut, except for member replacements and a split in
2005. Remaining, are founding member Wrath and veteran Syphon, along with three relatively
new members with lots of experience from other groups.
Between Intro and Outro we find about three quarters of Hell-scorched black metal that
smells like burnt Styrofoam. There's a lot of Scandinavian tradition to be traced, while the recording method has abandoned
the cellar. The band has evolved violently from cliché-filled, archetypal blasphemous off-the-shelf material, into an
experienced band with very good songs, full control on their sonic weapons, and adequate raw sound. Their sound is proud
and resounding, while the heretical metal has an atmospheric, scary and unholy misanthropic touch. The mastering was
handled by Necromorbus Studio.
At my very first listen, I got a disturbing, close to physically uncomfortable feeling. In my defence, it must be said that
it was very late at night and that I was quite overtired. Nevertheless, it shall also be said that Come
The Colorless Dawn has a well above average terrifying touch when two guitars complement each other with gloomy
riffing and haunted melodies, while the singer sounds like he's suffering from severe pain as he screams like possessed.
Come The Colorless Dawn of course doesn't revolutionize the genre. We're not on par with the classics,
and True Black Dawn is not as innovative as say Watain in song writing, but they still convey
eerie tones in a very persuasive manner. I have developed a strong taste for the pitch darkened loathe the band portrays.
I probably describe bands as “creepy” fairly often, but True Black Dawn has crafted something that belongs
among the most sinister and “spooky” in that respect, although I have not quite managed to recreate the magic of my first
encounter with this album. Thus, you probably don't need to keep nerve medicine and nitroglycerin tablets at hand.
Light a few candles and turn the volume close to the pain threshold just over an hour before dawn slowly returns with grey,
colourless daylight, and I think you'll still feel the essence of true black metal knocking on your heart door... from the inside.
Visionaire Rec.&Violet Nebula Prod., 18.03.16 Abyssian is an Italian doom metal band with a multitude of influences. Metal archives calls them gothic/doom,
while the quartet define themselves as Atlantean dark/doom.
The band released a demo in 2014, issued in just 30 copies, in a proper demo manner.
The Milan based band's debut consists of 9 tracks that clocks in at close to an hour, and Abyssian launched
it digitally them selves a few months ago. That's also pretty much everything I know about this bunch.
Nibiruan Chronicles apparently refer to either the Babylonian god Marduk's high seat, from where he could
control other stars or gods, or the breed that inhabits the hypothetical planet Nibru in the periphery of our solar system.
A seemingly popular planet among superstitious conspiracy theorists wearing fashionable tinfoil hats.
The album opens with a great acoustic two minute intro before doom metal takes over. The Realm of Commorion
has a slightly dark touch and deep sound with some signs of fretless bass. The melody in the chorus has alright hooks, that
even ageing rockers should be able to recognize, and a more soaring middle-sequence that prevents repetition. Neanderthal Sands visits a darker corner of the galaxy, where among other things hints of sleaze, space-techno
and Type O Negative can be traced.
With that, the album's primary ingredients are mentioned. It's a rather surreal mix this band offers, even if they never
slip completely off into avant-garde psychedelia. For someone who's not very impressed by regular doom,
The Realm of Commorion gives a fresh perspective, where its slightly strange expression creates a mild excitement.
That the songs have decent melodies and a fairly good drive, with variation within and between songs, doesn't hurt either.
I've heard this a bit too much lately, in anticipation of the possibility of getting the time to jot down a few words, so
right now I am quite satisfied, as in full. The album is tolerably good, but of subjective considerations, it will never
become one of my personal favourites.
If you have a taste for the four D's; Doom, depth, dynamics and diversity, or know someone who does, check it out, or tip someone off.
Napalm Records, 20.05.16 Satyricon ain't among the most retrospective bands, but when the milestone album Nemesis Divina
turns 20, Satyr and Frost makes an exception.
The album is now being released in remastered version, a job Satyr has taken care of himself, and the band
will play the album in its entirety at concerts.
If you're looking for a review of Nemesis Divina, you'll probably find hundreds of existing ones. I don't
see no reason to describe the music and decorate the corner with a horn's up. I assume that you, like me, have already heard
the album countless times. What you want to know is whether there is any reason why you should buy another edition of the
Now, if you're a newcomer, just buy it. It's a fucking classic.
Today is Norway's national day. Its celebration is far to pious for my liking. The only decent tradition being dwelling
in old classics. Normally films, but still, what better day to present this classic.
Remasters are a risk sport. Very often remasters lead to an unfortunate increase in loudness. Fortunately, that's pretty
much not the case here. Only minute, anyway. The volume is about the same, with a slightly lower dynamic range and just
marginally more clipping, but the difference between the two version on this aspect is fortunately completely negligible
for the vast majority.
The sound is otherwise not altered significantly. I'm no audio freak, I haven't got extremely well trained ears, and I don't
possess the most expensive audio equipment. The sound feels a touch more crisp and clear, but the difference is so
vague and subtle that I don't see any reason to go shopping, unless you have a very worn out copy, or only got a CD but wants
the LP or so on. I'm also just another metalhead, and no “expert” in any way. You thus need to listen and judge for yourself.
If you know this album, and you've already got a copy, in my view you can loosen up and save your money with ease.
In addition to ordinary CD, this is released on 180g 12" vinyl in black, gold, silver and transparent, including a folded
A2 poster. There's also a deluxe edition in a cardboard box, limited to 700 copies. This includes mediabook CD, 12" picture
disc and coloured slipmat (rubber mat to put on your record player), and of course the poster.
Enough advertisement. You know what needs you have yourself.
I can't seem to find any audio-samples for the remastered version. You'll have to settle for good oldies like
The Dawn of A New Age and Forhekset. You can also watch the legendary video for Mother North again, if you like.
EDIT 20.05.16: Sonic taster now available on Loudwire.
Solitude Productions, 25.04.16
What is it funeral doom lacks, that a real funeral has, apart from the lifeless remains of someone you already miss in
a coffin, of course. No, I'm not thinking of flower bouquets, your damned fool.
I'm talking about the mighty pipe organ.
The pipe organ has been incorporated into metal before, but never like this.
Many bands have used some church organ as seasoning, while others have extensive use of the instrument as a larger,
integral part of their expression. I can't remember exactly whether English Lychgate used it sporadically or frequently,
but Italian Abhor did probably make more of it. Czech Quercus has however invoked the pipes as a full
part of the family, at times as the primary instrument.
Nothing beats the distinct sound of guitars with distortion, right? The resonance from six roaring steel strings run
through fuzz pedal, amplifier and speakers make up a heavy heavenly mixture of chainsaw, blade saw, veteran sports car
with V8 and Harley Davidson, something it can be easy to forget when you listen to metal every day. The most forceful
instrument of them all, however, is called pipe organ, and it will even do without power demanding amplification.
(Though, of course it requires electrically powered air supply.) And the bigger the pipes, the more powerful sound.
There are those who go to church at pentecostal. And then there's us. Anti-theists who don't even care enough to do a
quick search on-line to find out just what the hell pentecost is. Most major organs (except from mine. Get it?) are
located in churches, but Quercus invites us to an unconsecrated cathedral for an hour-long ungodly
There are many a classical piece performed on church organs with a near magical feel in the air when immortal compositions
meets majestic sound. Take Toccata & Fuge by Johann Sebastian Bach as an example. Heart With Bread is an interesting affair, which unfortunately lacks the truly eminent compositions that
the execution is made for. The album consists largely of fairly good funeral doom without the most memorable song-wise
arrangements that you'd want to return to again and again. The arrangement of the organ is still good. Scattered with
drums, bass and guitar, it's enough to create something pretty spectacular within the universe of metal.
The album opens with the album's longest track, 22 minutes long A Canticle for the Pipe Organ. As the
name implies, this is centred around the organ. When, after about five spins, it eventually starts being absorbed properly,
it's a quite magnificent work, although it obviously lacks the hooks that Bach presented. The most light-footed
and playful part comes around 12 minutes and is repeated in the last two minutes.
A similar sequence is found around 2 minutes into the albums shortest song, 7 minutes long Silvery Morning,
which, located between large and slow songs from ten minutes and up, have a slightly lighter and airier feel than those.
The album concludes with My Heart's in the Highlands, a cover of an initially fairly unexciting composition
by Estonian Arvo
Pärt, the living composer whose music was most performed in 2015.
Heart With Bread contains clever structures and monumental sound (albeit low dynamics), but I miss a
bit stronger material. I hope Quercus build on their unique signature and offers stronger innovative
compositions the next time around. It's not without reason that classical music is called just that. Among other
contemporary music, metal is likely the music form that has maintained the heritage to the greatest extent, and so I
think some parts of the large multiplicity of metallic landscapes should continue to do. (Of course, I'm leaving out
music written for orchestra in this comparison.)
At its best, this is very good, but at its least interesting, the song-material becomes slightly anonymous. The
performance is still very idiosyncrasy, making my rating feel a bit strict, but the music is still not tremendously
exciting in a melodic sense. All in all, this is still pretty good, and as mentioned - mighty as hell!
Via Nocturna, 30.04.16
That I received a copy of this album from Via Nocturna was really quite random, as I recently contacted them
regarding another album. The band released this digitally in February, whilst it was well-deserved released on CD a few
The band name reminds me of bands far beyond my liking, read: metalcore, but when I discovered that the band plays death
metal and dwells in my former home town of Nidaros, my interest increased considerably. That House of Hades
was also favoured with 5/6 points in the last Scream Magazine, Norways oldest metal mag, only made it more enticing.
The first attempt, on a mediocre car stereo, didn't go as expected. Thus, attempt number two was done with headphones.
The difference was, to put it mildly, as night and day. With a headset, another world opened up. Details and nuances
were released from the madhouse to play with fire under the full moon's soft lighting, and after several rounds, pieces
of a rather grandiose edifice gradually fell in place.
Death metal might constitute the foundation and framework for Hades' house, but ornaments, interior and decorations are
imported from various quarters. The guitar-sound, along with fittingly airy riffing, has a hint of sludgy doom. We are
quite afar off Cannibal Corpse here, in other words. Sound and music have a very dynamic and three-dimensional
feel, where you can close your eyes and visualize the location of the various instruments in your “mental room”. The band
incorporates melody lines of different kinds, including fairly oriental sort, and a touch of symphonic elements. They
never leave the death metal-trail, but they never travel along the middle of the road. This band rather walks in trenches
and along rock ridges parallel to the path, while sharing a case of beer.
Take the track with the old school-sounding name Iron Coffin as an example. After an opening with melodies
used exclusively for creepy moods, it opens up for stylish harmonious melodies after three-quarter of a minute. This does
not last for long, but organ and synthesizer that act as choir and strings, squeeze in after just over 3 minutes and just
before five minutes, separate Killing For Company from typical Hells Headbangers releases, creating
a quite idiosyncratic signature. Not as strong a signature as what the band creates just by playing their
death metal in said sludge/doom method, tough.
Towards the end of Frontal Assault, a killer death metal song that starts much like a stoner version
of a traditional Norwegian lullaby known as Trollmors Vuggevise (Troll Mothers Lullaby), we find a mournful sequence reminiscent
of My Dying
Bride, yet naturally fitted into the song.
There is something about the band and their somewhat progressive rhythmic structures, that scarcely is explainable with
words, which adds magic beyond the standard to the music.
The band was started in 2004, but things went down the drain, and it took another ten years before they continued where
they left off. The three constituting Killing For Company is Tom "Welhaven" Wahl, earlier
in Bethzaida, Atrox and The Embraced (and more), now in Exeloume, on guitar, vocalist
Terje Olsen, who also supplied vocals on Khonsu's last EP Traveller and who has
also been guest for Bloodthorn, From the Vastland and Keep of Kalessin, and drummer Terje Kråbøl with
long experience from Bethzaida, Faustcoven and Antidepressive Delivery. The latter actually
played drums on Thorns' second demo Trøndertun in 1992.
In addition, we find a rich variety of guests from bands like Goat the Head/Atrox, Blood Red Throne,
Khold, Exeloume and Lumsk well as a few other visitors.
Mixing and mastering is done in Skansen Lydstudio, with Stein "Evil" Bratland behind the steering wheel.
It sounds rough and dry, but “present”, if I can put it that way. DR8 is what I, with today's typical DR6-DR7 and sometimes
lower dynamic range, would call “good”. The music has an unusual amount of that little extra, and if I were to complain about
something, it must first and foremost be that Killing For Company stand out in the crow without me being
completely able to put my finger on why. I interpret that as a positive sign for the music, and you can do so too.
Nuclear War Now! Productions, 15.05.16
After strong initial scepticism, last year's EP The Marrow Veil managed to persuade me that its outlandish universe
wasn't too surreal. Howls of Ebb namely performs a form of psychedelic extreme metal where it may be impossible to put your
finger on what constitutes the basis and what makes up the spices.
The band blends elements of progressive and technical death metal beyond recognition, by incorporating avant-garde
psychosomatic industrial acid-sludge... or something in that vein.
If Gorguts and Mr. Bungle cloned a mixture of their DNA, the result might have appeared a bit like
Howls of Ebb. This magic mushroom band from San Francisco just might be a distant relative of Sigh.
On the previous occasion, the band offered two long songs and a brief interlude, divided into 35 minutes. Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows, a title you'd almost have to memorize to remember, has 7
tracks of varying length, with a playing time of almost three quarters of an hour.
The music is strange, but also dark and evocative, with very exotic ceremonial undertones. The band mixes the various
inspirations together to form a coherent mass where almost droning guitars and airy rhythms themselves moves in irregular
patterns, while the strangest melodies, off-the-wall guitar sounds and bizarre vibrato- and tremolo-effects is used. The
guitars at times reminds more of Moog - wired up under strong influence of intense hallucinogenic substances. In addition to
a few other sound effects. Still, they manages, just fine to push the primary instruments to the very limits of abstract sounds.
At its most extreme, the music is pretty intense, and can at those points be reminiscent of Mayhem on the last two
albums, but the band often dives into dynamic, spiritual sequences with hypnotic effect. Along with highly acceptable DR9,
this makes for an airy, dynamic flair, despite some intensity. Cursus Impasse... may perhaps become a little too far out for some, but the band again does a marvellous
job, and I think that those who are looking for something a little out of the ordinary, and that gives this some time,
likely won't regret it.
Calculate a three hour investment before you can really begin to reap the fruits.
PS: CD and digital-version was released in April via I, Voidhanger Records, cassette is available through Caligari
Records, while Nuclear War Now! Productions offers 12" vinyl.
Cyclone Empire, 13.05.16
The thrash trio Warfect from Sweden has just released their third testimony if we count full-length
As the tardy fool I am, I have missed the first 13 or 10 years, depending on whether we're talking of the conception
or the first demo.
The band consists of three men, of whom at least two are experienced folks who's done time in Lord Belial
and Bestial Mockery.
The Swedish metal scene has fostered a multitude of genres with a generally high level of qualified personnel. I can't
claim that I know of so many Swedish thrash bands, but they are of course also represented. Once I comes across one of
these, it comes as no surprise that the quality is top notch.
The cover art, one of Andrei Bouzikov's creations, leads my mind toward bands with names related to nuclear and
bio-hazardous waste. Perhaps because of the colour usage. But the music has only sporadic similarities in this respect.
Warfect's thrash has a combination of rapid high-octane party thrash and angrier, more aggressive thrash
with darker minds and a slight element of groove.
Warfect don't settle with less than about 53 minutes, but has plenty enough of fierce riffing and malignant
melody to keep momentum through the speed violation without losing their pep. The chance that many listeners will drop off
is probably not high, as the guys offer solid tunes and ditto instrumentation, including slashing solos, with appropriate
sound and a singer who eats broken glass between meals, which probably consists of bloody roadkill. The lyrics that are spat
out by this snarling savage seems to be wonderfully morbid.
Scavengers can lead to increased levels of adrenalin and aggression, but if thrash is your thing, that's
a risk you're gonna have to live with. And if it should cause a few more cadavers in the wake on your path, you probably
always got room for a few more skeletons in the closet. At its best, this is absolutely superb. Thus, the rating grade
would likely have increased slightly if the band had been rougher with the ax concerning trimming and cutting. This is
cool on a disc, and it must be one hell of a killer show live.
Hells Headbangers, 13.05.16 Coffin Lust got a name and a sound that in no way reveals that we're dealing with a brand new orchestra.
The Australian duo are not newcomers, though.
Any death metal sub-genre has so many bands that a little something extra is required to make their mark.
Especially within the classic form of death, it's rather inevitable that quite a few becomes a bit similar in the
expression, and it's precisely to old school death metal that Coffin Lust swear.
Obviously, it's extra nice to verify that the duo delivers great tunes, provide full throttle and sounds killer.
The noble art of Songwriting is well taken care of through the band's three-quarter-long display of internal murkiness.
The band offers ass-kicking riffs with nifty melody lines that in accordance with tradition never becomes too melodic.
An occasional sequence of obscure eeriness, and rapid, frenetic solos also appears between juicy grave decorator
(sorry) desecrator riffs.
With two guitars and bass, it rumbles, hums, thunders and howls like hell. Both members plays guitar and growl like
rabid gravediggers. Main songwriter J.R. (from Nocturnal Graves etc.) is credited for the varied, violent and
The sound feels tailored to the malevolent riffs and deadly aggression. Thus it slays and kills when dirty guitars sound
like an entire sawmill in operation, while the dynamics between DR9 and DR10 allows for a proper party volume on the stereo.
There ain't much more to say. Manifestation of Inner Darkness is good old death metal with killer riffs,
cool tunes and brutal sound. Nothing new, but delightful as hell.
Season of Mist, 13.05.16 Gorguts previous album, Colored Sands, found its way to many a year-end list in 2013, often
featured in the the top echelon. Of course, that was far from the first time the Canadians attracted attention.
The band has five full-length albums behind them, and it's now 25 years since the debut.
When Gorguts now returns, it's with an EP consisting of one single, but long song.
I've never been the band's biggest fan, so you can choose to take my words with a grain of salt. At least, I'm not biased.
I am also of the opinion that one should to a degree be objective enough to notice and commend obvious technical qualities
regardless of taste, and I liked Colored Sands although I didn't idolize it. Critically acclaimed
Obscura (1998), one of the sub-genres greater successes, and apparently one of the band's fan-favourites, has
never appealed significantly to me. The band was likely ahead of their time, or my taste has changed over the years, perhaps
both, for I think I would have enjoyed it more today.
We may as well start with the first song, the closure and the title track; Pleiades' Dust.
The 33 minute long track represents a concept about a medieval library and scientific academy in Baghdad, known as the
House of Wisdom. This was a golden era for Islam, where different branches of science,
philosophy and literature flourished and gave a further positive effect on economics and cultural progress. It may
seem today like it's a long time since muslim cultures unfortunately stagnated in most aspects of their beliefs and
perspective on life.
Main man, composer and sole original member Luc Lemay has in a way modelled Pleiades' Dust
into different acts, but not in a disjointed or fragmented way. In the band's controlled chaos (ordo ab chao), everything
comes together in some way. Herein lies Gorguts' strength. And obstruction. The music is demanding. And
proportionally rewarding. To get into Pleiades' Dust is a process, even if it's “only” a rather long EP.
To decipher the music both requires and deserves time.
Swirling, unpredictable guitar lines, desperate vocals, resounding atmosphere and moods of hopelessness and dystopia changes
character in seconds, calming the storming sea and letting the sun burst out between the clouds, with a dreamy tinge of hope,
as a light at the end of the tunnel. The abrupt, but smoothly functioning transitions is one of the band's hallmarks, and
something they are highly proficient at.
The music's progressive movement is like a belly dancer's hips constant non-linear motion, like an endless formless spiral.
The rhythms vibrates and pulsate. The bass hammers in a distinct, slightly dry fashion. The guitars, these crazed locusts,
you can never calculate on.
With the flair Luc and sidekicks have for melody and song structure in its veritable roller coaster of
kaleidoscopic proportions, with a highly competent technical musical manifestation, and the impeccable clean and clear
sound around a dirty expression, along with the punch and ominous atmosphere that's emitted, it doesn't matter what all
the world's know-it-alls might think. Pleiades' Dust has, with its enormous diversity and its professional
appearance, become a large-scale work that in my ears exceeds Colored Sands.
Gorguts has developed a strong avant-garde signature that many have been inspired by. The band is considered
one of the pioneers and engineers behind progressive technical death metal. There ain't many bands that gets better and better
after decades in the game, but that might just be an impression I'm left with since I've never been the Canadians
number one admirer. Pleiades' Dust is a peculiar piece of thoughtful and well conducted music. Very good!
The exceptionally detailed cover art was designed by Polish Zbigniew M. Bielak.
Here's a 7-minute teaser, while the entire Pleiades' Dust can be streamed via Decibel Magazine.
Hellthrasher Productions, 13.05.16 Ljosazabojstwa. Say that fast five times in a row. The band comes from Belarus and was started
last year. They debuted on their own with this mini in late December. That was in digital format with three songs and a
little over 16 minutes of playing-time.
In late January they released Staražytnaje licha on tape with a nine minute bonus track. Placed at
the very beginning. The bonus track Struk u horła Chrysta, which thus kicks of the show, is also
included on this CD edition.
The band is located in the crossfire between black and death metal, and shows very promising traits, while not really
impressing significantly this first time round. Said opening tune is slow, heavy and devilish, with occult undertones.
The satanic vocals in particular gives the music a profane, unholy character. Organ tones hiding way behind all the
heavy instruments also helps the sacrilegious whiff. The song is on the one side made up of relatively simple foundations,
while it still has enough variety, transitions and dark mood, especially in the depressive melodies in the midsection,
to succeed quite well.
The three songs that make up the original version of the release is around five minutes each. The first of these, the
title track Staražytnaje licha, has a somewhat simpler expression with a barbaric spirit of primitive,
savage berserker. I feel the potential, but this becomes a little bit too simple.
With Kamunija ahniom, the band flex a bit more muscles with better diversity, unpredictable tempo changes,
sombre spirits from the guitars and overall sulky atmosphere. Some organ droning in the background also helps a bit to
grow more depth in a sound that otherwise is on a demo level.
Closing Dzien Nawi ain't too bad either, but even this could have been more tight and rich, given a little
more experience and better resources during recording.
I consider this as a very good and utterly promising demo. As an EP, in fierce competition with established bands, it's
however a bit middle of the road. This is a band we're going to hear more from, and who is going to make a name for themselves
in a not too distant future. Mark my words. This EP will rise in value, and you can boast of having followed the band since
its inception. (Now my manipulative seller instincts finally awoke.) Nice art work, by the way.
Inverse Records, 13.05.16 Vetten Äpärät belongs to a new generation of merrymaking, yet battle-ready fairytale-born Finnish
woodsmen. The band is a five-man, one-woman orchestra, calling their own style folk/fantasy metal.
The term fantasy metal may very well have been used before for all I know, as it's a good description of Summoning
and such, but for me the designation is a new and fresh twist.
Syntyi Talven Kyynelistä, meaning “Born of Winter's Tears”, is Vetten Äpärät's first
album. The name means something in the vein of “Water Bastards”. The band has been around for almost ten years, and the
material on the debut have come to life during these years. And so it has become 13 songs and almost an hour of music.
Yet the music is very cohesive, and they've even merged in a fantasy concept.
Musically, Vetten Äpäräts seek to approach Finnish folk metal from a new angle. The band blends a
variety of authentic folk instruments (if I understand it correctly) with melodic metal, simultaneously adding choir and
epic symphonic flair. The band considers their style a touch more modern. I consider it a hybrid of timeless elements,
but the blend certainly creates a fresh breeze in the Finnish forests. The song Ice Made New Kingdom,
however, has a stronger modern twist. The music is not so innovative that the band need to aim it at a new audience just
yet. One can call it fresh blood in a worn genre. The question is where the band takes their music next.
The band has come up with reasonably good melodies and alright song-structures which probably will please genre-fiends.
Personally I'm charmed by the way the band naturally combines acoustic parts, metal and other items, such as said choirs and
orchestral seasoning, into a vital whole. I also have a taste for the band's ambitious use of sound effects in the music.
I still don't find myself right among the typical target audience. I'm in particular questioning the use of keyboards.
I understand those who use synth to simulate instruments they don't have access to or can't play, but synthetic synth
sound can quickly cause an overdosed, and is it really necessary at all if one apparently has access to the real deal,
with many genuine folk-instruments at hand?
The sound is mostly clear, bombastic and epic, with mastering by renowned Finnvox Studios.
Syntyi Talven Kyynelistä was released digitally on April 1st, and is now being released on CD.
The music is a little bit too epic for me to eat it raw, but there is much enjoyable music here. The band even makes
cheerful tunes with flute sound delightful, rather than over-jovial.
From here on, it's easy to stake out two roads ahead. The band may have matured as songwriters and come up with more
intricate material with even stronger songs, making the next album more refined and memorable, or they can mix in lots
of oompah-oompah and nu-metal or power metal as Alestorm apparently did, and become tacky and cheesy. I hope
they venture onto the right path.
I am perhaps quite a bit harsh on the rating. The Finnish sextet does very much right in their execution and they have
more than just traces of really good tunes, but I feel that they have something to go on, and I have developed
a great confidence and faith that Vetten Äpäräts has what it takes to go that last mile.
Bigger zealots of forest-metal can buy this at once, 'cause this is an album that grows gradually stronger and stronger.
Clavis Secretorvm, 13.05.16 Blakk Old Blood is a Swiss band with members from Deathcult, Antiversum and Paria et al.
They claim to be inspired by renown bands from the satanic black heyday.
I'd say you'd be allowed to have some expectations.
On Friday they release both EP and split.
The latter with an American black metal underground band.
Greed starts with rickety distorted black metal in two minutes long Misanthrope, before
another two pointless disorderly tracks are completed in less than two minutes. After four minutes, the band changes tactics.
Seed of Greed occupy ⅔ of the duration, and consists of unexpectedly sluggish misery, where the band
is aiming for sombre moods.
Filling 8 minutes with a few simple melody lines that feels like one, of which the most intricate melody practically just
repeats eight tones, and where the only form of variation is a gradual increase in strength, is still far from
impressive. That sound crackles a bit, but so be it. After all, this is black metal from, by, and for the underground.
When Blakk Old Blood opens the 7" split with Black Devotion, it's not just with a
crackling sound. The jarring sound is so fucking god-awful that it's intolerable.
5 minutes long 7 Chants can safely be dug down deep into unconsecrated ground,
in hopes of it never ever being unearthed.
The Americans of Black Devotion delivers a whole lot better. Joining the Swiss was hardly a good deal.
5 minutes long Prophets of the Black Arts of Samael is still no grand experience. It's a slightly
staccato, but decent bestial bubonic plague with ditto dirty sound. With better song-writing, this band can quickly
grow out of the slums of the most degenerate basement of the sub-underground.
I see absolutely no value in these releases.
There are plans for a split between Blakk Old Blood and Bölzer.
Of course I need to check that one out.
Black Lion Productions, 15.03.16 Vindland comes from France and plays melodic black metal with folkloric elements of viking seas and
pagan landscapes. The band does a good job of constructing new song materials from recycled raw materials. Not that
they steal anything, but within these genres, nothing is ever entirely new, and this landscape is particularly familiar.
The quartet consists of four men, as quartets tend to do. Two of them with live experience from Belenos.
After a little more than ten years, a demo and an EP, the guys are finally ready with their debut studio album.
There is simply no getting away from Vindland having a lot in common with Windir et al. On
Hanter Savet they've nevertheless created nine nifty songs with great flair for euphonious melodies
with moods of wild nature where untamed forces reigns one day, while nature offers peace, tranquillity and a well-stocked
larder the next. The album has also detail enough to earn both time and concentration.
At the very first listen, I heard potential, but I was still a little reluctant and hesitant. For each new spin, the
album grows a little stronger. The album is admittedly not exceptionally good, but it's still strong enough
for me to recommend it to genre fans.
I'm slightly ambivalent toward the sound. The acoustic guitars sound good, the bass rumbles like a volcano with a bad
stomach and there's punch in the production. Still, the sound ain't entirely crystal clear at all times. It surely don't
sound as if the music came from a cassette player inside a cardboard box, far from it, but it still has a tiny bit stuffy
feel at times. A tiny bit, I tell you. The vocals can also be a bit dry. I would still argue that the positive
properties of the sound outperforms the negative. By far.
Thus you know approximately whom Vindland is, and what kind of music they offer.
You have a vague sense of the sound, and you have, with your usual scepticism, noted that at least Gorger likes this.
That leaves only two things:
• To assure once again that the song material on Hanter Savet is of fine quality.
• To encourage you to set aside some time for the album if the style appeals.
The latter need not be expensive, as the digital edition is name your price.
Throatruiner Records, 29.04.16
About two years ago I had the dubious honour to write a few words about these Frenchmen's last full length album
Lowgazers. I defined their “music” as intense, dystopian, dissonant, claustrophobic and avant-garde black metal,
for those who doesn't find normal black metal unpleasant enough.
This admittedly almost sounds alluring, but the expression felt almost like a sonic pressure washer to the eardrums, and I
quickly became extremely tired.
The guys still execute apocalyptic, dissonant and somewhat kaleidoscopic black metal, and has indeed not changed very
much, but the sound does not feel quite as intense on the band's third full-length album. I could still have done with a bit
stronger dynamics in the production and more air and variation in the expression, but my ears ain't getting as tired as on our
last encounter, and that certainly helps the impressions a lot.
Despite rather bad reception the last time, I had some hopes for this one. They're met to a certain extent, as the music has
more sombre moods this time around. Everything ain't just bliss and vinegary piss, though. There's a chaotic, atonal overlying
spirit of grindcore to the music, and the songs don't grow above “reasonably good”. Even if I don't get directly tired in my
ears, I do get fairly tired in the head. Especially through the first four spins. I still struggle a bit to get through
these 35 minutes without interruption. False Highs, True Lows needs some time, something it's not tempting to award it, as this is not an album to
enjoy on repeat. For my part, this release never becomes as good as records from bands it may be natural to compare with. As
metal in Deathspell Omega's waters and wake.
The album will surely find its followers. It is absolutely not bad. It just don't hit me quite as good as expected.
Check it out on the band's Bandcamp page for an optional any payment.
High Roller Records, 06.05.16
My two primary problems with contemporary heavy metal is vocal without edge and songs without good melodies and interesting
structures. Vandallus plays relatively gentle hard rock/heavy metal of the carefree type. They however don't
come short, as many others do.
That said, their approach also differs slightly from many of the pure classical heavy metal bands of recent times.
When the temperature of my northern habitat has finally fought its way up past twenty degrees (or 70 in Fahrenheit), a
warm foehn wind gently ruffles the goatee, the sun shines from close to cloudless skies, and I've got the opportunity to
enjoy it all with a cold beer in my hand on a Saturday afternoon, Vandallus got all the right gods on
On The High Side, chew on the title, feels a bit like being taken back to Sunset Strip's golden heyday,
with a few cold drinks on a side walk outdoor dining with radiating asphalt in anticipation of tonight's concert. The
album opens with a fucking cool intro with intense guitars in the form of Rat, before Break
The Storm reminisce nostalgic about the past. sort of in the style of Scorpions' Rock Me Like a
The band was created by American Jason Vanek, inspired by late 70s and early 80s hard rock, like
Dokken and said Scorpions. I'll throw in some Def Leppard, Van Halen and Rush
for good measure at my own expense. A song title like On Top of the Word can clearly tell you something
about its style. Jason takes care of the vocals himself. It doesn't have a lot of punch and edge, but
it's technically and melodically competent, and it doesn't become too soft.
Based on the music, you'd never guess that the other two band members in this feel-good band otherwise dwells in far more
rancid and callous Midnight.
The Semi-ballad and the ballad Who's Chasing Me and Running Lost, which follow each other
closely, is not among the most melancholic ballads, and they're certainly not the only songs with a ballad touch on the
album, but it can still be debatable whether these, pretty tunes nonetheless, fit into the mood on an otherwise rather
carefree album. The only consistently melancholic mood I find is the saddened loss of adolescence. Yes, sure, chosen
musical expression just wouldn't be quite right without a ballad or three either, right?
With a taste of summer on the rise, the music really comes to its right, and On The High Side thus has
all prerequisites to go straight to listeners hearts these days. On a winter day, on the other hand, Vandallus
would feel more inappropriate and toothless. There's a bit too many quiet songs on my part. I wouldn't mind
seeing the band rocking out a bit more, as in the intro. Nevertheless, the album consists of 38.5 minutes and 9 songs
with individual signature, good sound, decent punch, delightful dynamics (DR10), nice deep bass, good instrumentation
and a whole lot of guitar candy.
Fans of AOR, hard rock and mild heavy metal is of course obligated to check out On The High Side.
Blood Harvest, 06.05.16
Belgian Maleficence were approved under doubt when their demo Journey to the Depths was released through
Blood Harvest exactly a year ago. The music had a lot of killer riffing and good drift, but fairly monotonous
repetition and limited audio quality, to be a bit diplomatic. (Pretty inferior sound is a more realistic, yet harsher
formulation.) Still, there were a lot of promising potential in the song material.
I was therefore very excited to see what developments the Belgians now presents with Realms of Mortification,
their first EP, released as a 7".
Realms of Mortification offers two tracks of approximately 5.5 minutes each. It doesn't take long to
establish that the production, as expected, is significantly improved this time. The dynamics are, however, very compact,
something I'd like to see the band rectify until next time.
The music has otherwise not changed enormously, but there is basically some progressing made here as well.
We can still pick up a few staccato rhythms and prolonged sequences, but that's just nitpicking, really.
Pyre of Penitence kicks off the EP with fierce, red hot black/thrash, characterized by aggressive pace
and attitude. It's a tough song with alright variation, which nevertheless is beaten at the finish line by its fraternal
twin brother Of Mortification and Beyond, which delivers a volcanic eruption that smells burned. Tougher
drumming, evocative melodies, insane vocal and fervent guitars and solo, gives this a lead of a severed horse head.
Maleficence, you are hereby cleared to proceed to the full-length format by Gorger, officer 666
of the music police.
You, despised reader, unfortunately have to settle with the least best song Pyre of Penitence as a teaser this time.
The Goatmancer Records, 02.05.16
With 15 songs, a duration of 67 minutes and a title beginning with “A Decade of...”, all the symptoms
of a compilation is present. Oddly enough, I didn't put two and two together until I heard the album for the third time,
and noticed, amongst others, a slightly varying expression and sound in the second half. In my defence it must be noted
that the first two spins were launched while my attention was elsewhere, and that the first barely 40 minutes don't show
no signs of compiling.
The band has actually been active in one and a half decades when they now celebrate “more than ten years” in extreme metal's
(secret) service. Grimness is an Italian black metal band consisting of members with experience from bands like
Hour Of Penance, Vidharr, Aborym and Eyeconoclast. A Decade of Disgust can be considered just as much a re-release of their debut and the first EP, with
bonus material, as a compilation.
The release starts with the 38-minute debut Increase Humanity Disgust from 2005. Without any form of
knowledge or expectations beforehand, I'm actually really impressed by what I hear. This is vital diabolic black metal
with hefty drive, steady infernal drumming and a hellish amount of devilish good guitar playing. The music is anything
but monotonous, and can almost be seen as the antithesis to shoegazing post-sleep-medicine. The sound is also juicy and
full of punch.
It's truly a hidden jewel black we've come across.
After the debut, track number ten, A New Version of Reality, follows. This is an unreleased song that
was left on the cutting room floor after the recording session of the last album Trust In Decay (2008).
It's a decent song, but if their second album was on par with the debut, there's probably a reason why this somewhat
late-Satyricon'ish song didn't make it through the eye of the needle.
Then it's time for the 2002 EP Dogma, which allegedly was never released. One can only wonder at what
the story behind such an unfortunate fate is, for the four songs which are presented during 19 minutes is not at all to
be underestimated. Rapid, well played, satanic and proud black metal of a delightful sort, is what we find here as well.
After just over an hour with studio music, A Decade of Disgust rounds off with a live version of the
song Proud to be Damned from their second album Trust in Decay, perhaps lifted from
their live DVD Live Perseverance (2007), but that's just a speculation.
The fact that I haven't heard of Grimness until now is simply a disgrace. Italy has covered both ends
of the quality scale what black metal concerns, and this band is definitely amongst the very best. Marvellous!
Agonia Records, 06.05.16
French Glorior Belli is known to have a distinctive and slightly odd expression. Something I can vividly
imagine someone wrinkling slightly on the nose of.
There is no doubt that the band's music primarily belongs in the black pigeon-hole cubicle, yet it has usually had elements that
have made it rather alien and different, and everyone knows that musical xenophobia is a widespread phenomenon within black metal.
The band incorporates traces of groovy sludge, and acquire a vague sense of avant-garde. Albeit quite moderate, but just
enough to stand out slightly. The band has sometimes encompassed a black'n'roll expression where the rock segment has had
a lot of Southern rock and doomy blues in it. Something that has separated them even more from the crowd.
Among some tnbm bands, there's even been a stated objective to denounce, and weed out the blues element of metal.
I will not speculate as to whether or not this is in itself enough to give Glorior Belli a status as a
love/hate-band. For my own part, the last drop for never becoming a full-fledged follower of the band, is that they have
never belonged to the absolute elite, nor the reserves, what pure black quality concerns. I guess I have mostly considered
Glorior Belli as pretty good, but with their obvious flaws that has made them imperfect in my ears.
Sundown (The Flock That Welcomes) sees the band returning to somewhat more conventional black metal.
Blues and deep south rockabilly is admittedly not a thing of the past completely, but that's basically because I'm aware
of the band's story, and because I pay attention to such details, practically searching for them. The cowboy in the
expression is greatly reduced, but a modest touch of slugde still tags along. A fox can't outrun its own tail.
Among the pioneers of the second wave, many bands employed a lot of melody, without ever being termed as melodic
as a result. When melodies are used to produce eeriness, the band is normally labelled evocative, moody or atmospheric.
Glorior Belli includes pretty much melody without extensive dark, hateful or gloomy mood, but somehow
don't appears as typically melodious for that reason. There are moods here, they are just not very anything in
In a slightly strange way, that becomes the album's strength. As a slick and cunning serpent, it is lurking. You never
know quite what to make of it, you don't trust it, and you dare not let it out of sight. There is something about its
cunning eyes and the arrogant and hypocritical smile.
Meanwhile, the melodies have similarities with the charm of a sociopath, by cynically and sadistically manipulate you
with slick, smooth-talking, devious falsehood.
Sundown... has a bit of everything. Moods, unruly aggression, monotony, variety, suggestion, suitably
balanced amounts of melody etcetera, and it does a pretty good job in all areas. Good enough to be successful. Anonymous
enough to blend in and get at close hand of its prey. Sundown... is a cold, calculating psychopath who
probably wants you only harm, but you won't notice until it's too late. Glorior Belli's sixth album is
the first in which only one man constitutes the entire band. Among the ⅔ of the band's discography I've
heard, the album has still grown into a pretty clear favourite. A favourite that sneak imperceptibly in under the skin
before detonating. Note, however, that the album does requires some time to grow big and ugly.
Voice Rec.&Profound Lore Rec., 06.05.16
British Grave Miasma began their journey under the banner Goat Molestör. In 2005, the band
released an EP, and their 2002 demo was released as a split with Necros Christos, a band it may be natural to compare
After changing name in 2008, the band released a couple of new EPs, before the critically acclaimed 2013 album
Odori Sepulcrorum gave the Brits a major breakthrough. Endless Pilgrimage
passes half an hour with good margin, but is nevertheless released as an EP.
The music continues in a familiar style, but something still feels a little different, a little more energetic mayhaps.
The band doesn't just engage in occult activity in dark cellars where hooded men have placed altars and drawn abstract
sigils associated with black magic in chalk on the floor, while adjoining small and dirty rooms serve as alchemical
laboratory and makeshift library packed with obscure books about conjuring demons and summoning devilish spirits.
On Odori Sepulcrorum, Grave Miasma sorted, studied and collated the incantations and
rituals collected through their three EPs and they undertook certain ceremonies and performed alchemical preparations
with painstakingly patient manners.
With Endless Pilgrimage, time is ripe to obtain fresh and expired ingredients. Graves must be looted, tombs
and private collections needs to be robbed of their secrets and virgins must be procured. It's a bestial endeavour, but
Grave Miasma goes to work with frenetic zeal and enthusiasm, thirsty for both fresh and coagulated blood.
With hard-working vitality and efficient distribution of tasks, Endless Pilgrimage offers hectic activity
and variety, as the last occult, literary, chemical, criminal and violent preparations for the final Rite are completed.
We already dread the continuance. At least I do, because then I'll probably have to actually describe the music.
~ With slacking and negligent regards from Gorger ~
It may be mentioned that the music is ever-changing and evocative, with frantic wildness and ceremonial character. The
eastern influences in the opener Yama Transforms to the Afterlife works very well, and the band sends
a nod back to the demo days, with a remake of the song Glorification of the Impure of said demo/split.
Prophecy Productions, 29.04.16 Marcel Dreckmann is an artist with many irons in the fire, including theatre, painting and music. You
might know him from Helrunar and Árstíðir lífsins.
The album Van't Liewen Un Stiäwen, “On living and dying” in English, is the first from his
Wöljager, and was originally intended as a theatre play, where the story is set to his homeland Münsterland in
Germany, in the same period as Russia's poetic “silver era”, that you might remember from Fausttophel
The plot revolves around a spökenkieker, a kind of clairvoyant that only foresees misery. Marcel
wrote melodies to the narrative, but as the play has not yet been realized, he's been joined by compatriot Stefan
Drechsler and Icelander Árni Bergur Zoëga, colleagues from Árstíðir lífsins.
I guess the music has to be mentioned as well, not that it's a whole lot to tell. This is primarily acoustic guitars, violin
and deep and dark male vocals storytelling. The music blends elements of folk and chamber music with a melancholic veil into
a fairly dismal form of neo-classical folk music. My mind's drawn towards several bands with lots of folk in the expression,
but as there's no traces of metal here, it's easiest to think of bands like Empyrium and Tenhi without
markedly similarities beyond that.
To convey the story, the CD is presented with a clothbound 60-page hard-cover book, with narration and lyrics in both
local dialect as well as in English, in addition to several illustrations painted especially for the occasion.
The music is charming and quite enthralling, but don't expect no metal. 50 minutes without fuzz and drums normally makes
me reasonably impatient, but tonight it felt really good with some relaxing diversion. If you've got a fondness for
hushed acoustic forest music with rather beautiful melodies, this just might be your thing.
Another Side Records, 06.05.16
The melodic black metal band Fausttophel from Ukraine wasn't born with a silver spoon up the excretory
opening at the end of the alimentary canal. The band was started in the late 90s, but was soon forced into a hiatus due
to the very unfortunate event of fatality within the group.
In 2009, ten years after its inception, the band was ready for a new start. In 2013, the debut Thirst Oblivion
was finally released. The band, emerging as a quintet on Sancta Simplicitas, are now
launching this sophomore album worldwide after it's been available in their home country for about a month.
The band plays a vital melodic fusion of black metal and death metal, spiced with piano, poetry and orchestral elements.
The band is partly inspired by the Ukrainian-Russian writer and dramatist Nikolai Gogol. The band has borrowed some
lyrical stanzas from Russia's poetic silver era of the late 1800s and a few decades in to the 1900s. A time that followed
almost a century after the golden era. Among others, declarations with melodic pronunciation is being used, in a spoken
form of singing known as melodeclamation.
The music still build on a well-known recipe, but the influence of external inspirations both creates individuality and
musical substance. The intro opens with Russian recital, while a music box treat us to mournful melody and sounds of
horse and carriage in hasty gallop gives the feeling of flight. The music gives a sense of concept album several places,
without that being the case, besides from the literary leitmotif.
The lyrics are printed in English in the booklet, in addition to the original bilingual Russian/Ukrainian used in the music.
Apart from the closing Black Tears, a cover of Edge of Sanity. It can be revealed that we among
texts dealing with existential questions, suffering, philosophy and so on also find deeply atheistic thoughts regarding
religious criticism, formulated a bit more subtle and civilized than what black metal mongers have a habit of doing, yet
still with rigorous rhetoric.
The music is very varied. Melodious and melody-lose sequences mingle naturally. Calm and raging parts rub shoulders
effortlessly. Hard, black and deadly metal, acoustic parts, black vocals and growl, piano, touches of female vocals, guitar
solos, velvety violin, barbed wire guitars, grand piano pieces and backing vocals, are all ingredients in a 50 minute long
refined work with strong melodies and very elaborate structure. The band knows not to overdo the use of instruments, but
weaves them in where they are considered appropriate. In song number five, Sick Earth in English, we can
for example find about 20 seconds with accordion and a short sequence of something that sounds like a harmonium (pump organ).
An example of just how exceptional Fausttophel can appear, without tipping over into oddity, is the last
self-composed song, The Whirl Ends Where it Began, exceeding seven minutes. Trickling streams, crows and
other forest sounds appear and re-appear, but the concert grand piano and classic-operatic vocals poses the key element
throughout more than five minutes before strings and waves of rolling sea surface. Only in the final minute, drums appear.
Building momentum via snare drums, before blasting delightful through a piece of beautiful melody that concludes with
thunderbolts. An outstanding ending to an otherwise non-metallic song. Finally, the album ends on the aforementioned
Black Tears, almost more reminiscent of Amorphis than Edge of Sanity, where the last
40 seconds are dyed blood red as the sunset with wonderful Hammond organ.
Fausttophel have with Sancta Simplicitas accomplished an exciting and good album,
packed with diversity and memorable features.
The band was initiated after Stefan Bayle (Anorexia Nervosa) and Migreich
(Vulv) met at a concert one and a half year ago. Initially, Wilheim and Cécile G
(Anorexia Nervosa) has joined the coven
The band plays what Debemur Morti refers to as a brilliant combination of post-black metal, old school black
metal, early hard rock and cold wave, and what I'd describe as resounding atmospheric and relatively depressive
black metal with an asocial touch of shoe-gazing due to a seemingly sorrowful emotional state.
In such a dense mixture, there's always a chance of various listeners hearing and emphasizing different aspects. Only
a pedant would argue that one description is entirely correct or wrong. (Unless someone would be widely of the mark and
define the band as a crossover between thrash, trip hop and polka, that is.)
The two songs are seated in the same landscape, where unhappy moods struck by great sadness meets hopelessness, disgust
and denial in hatred, weeping and gnashing of teeth. The two songs are very promising, and I have a fondness of what I
hear. It is admittedly not very innovative, and the sound may be a little too resounding and intense. Nevertheless,
the music is good and the performance flawless. Drifting energetic drumming, anguished vocals and cutting guitars makes
for killer instrumentation. The gorgeous guitar melody from about 5 to 6 minutes into the first song is worth noting in
Good, but not mandatory. I'm still excited about the future.
Lucifericon, a Dutch band whose members have extensive experience in the business,
debuted with the EP The Occult Waters in 2012.
The band has meanwhile had to look around for a new bucket beater twice, but are now showing signs
of black scorched life of death on a 12" MLP with three songs.
On side A we find Brimstone Alter and The Jaws of Time, two death metal songs with black
edges, where fierce vocals and drumming becomes like second fiddle compared to the never stagnant swarm of murderous steel
strings. The songs last for about 6 and 3.5 minutes each. The first with swirling Autopsy-guitars and delightful
solo guitar, and the next with more eeriness.
The creepy and sinister is even enhanced as we turn to side B Witch of the Cosmic Grave poses with its 11:40 one long, heavy and zombified song, where the pace varies
from occult mid-tempo to panicking drowning in quicksand. The maelstrom of mud and viscous lava grinds slowly, but the fatal
destiny is nevertheless inevitable. Moods witnesses thus to an ominous and agonizing demise no matter what cause of death.
I am perhaps a trifle kind with the rating, but just a hunch.
The plus in the upper right corner is not undeserved.
The only thing missing now, is a star in the margin.
Black Plague Rec., 05.15.16 Enoid is a Swiss one-man band playing black metal akin to the neighbours in France.
The protagonist, Bornyhake, is an active man, running the band Borgne on his own amongst others.
Even this guy has been involved with
Kawir, and he's even been session drummer/guitarist for Manii on their Skuggeheimen EP.
Enoid has actually been around long enough to mark the band's 20th anniversary this year, albeit also
under other names for about half the time, but most of the activity has taken place under the name Enoid
during the last ten years.
Exilé... is the band's seventh release.
In what we may refer to as noisy conditions, I rushed to put on the first music I could find on my phone, leading to
Exilé Aux Confins Des Tourments washing over me at full volume like a tsunami. Exactly what sounded most
clamorous, the external racket or the deafening sound as the headphones exploded, is rather difficult to tell.
After adjusting the sound down several times, I note that the music Enoid offers is good, but that
there is something wrong with the sound. In sharp contrast to Head of the Demon below, where the dynamics feels
better than its numbers, this feels considerably worse than what it actually is. The volume seems ridiculously loud, so
harsh and shrill I could swear on low dynamics and clipping en masse, affecting the sound quality negatively no matter
how much one turn down the volume. A control measurement however reveals DR7 and extremely low amount of clipping.
Bottom line is there's something very erroneous with the production, for it sounds glaring and rather fucked.
The music had deserved better, though as Bornyhake have tuned and mixed everything on his own, it's
strictly speaking his own fault. The black metal is actually good as coal. This is dark and uncomfortable metal with
pretty solid tunes and gloomy moods. The music is characterized by despondency and suffering, as well as adequate disgust,
because there's always someone or something to blame. The music has diverse dystopia and misery, and overt aggression.
With varying sound from churning guitars, pounding drums providing outlet for pent-up rage and tormented vocals with
French spiteful diction, the approximately 43 minutes never becomes boring. Although the album can't really be said to be
original, it never feels generic. The rather special, and far from polished guitar sound, does help somewhat on supplying
distinctive character. Diversity, brutality and moods otherwise provide comfort for comfort-less souls. And certainly,
some may actually consider the sharp and stinging sound as trve. I am admittedly an aficionado of Nocte
Obducta's Schwarzmetall (as mentioned ad nauseam) but this is still a bit exaggerated. Necroticness,
aggression and mediocre dynamics is probably no optimal combination.
Music: very good. Compressed Shrill sound: if not gruesome, then at least tiresome.
Grand Total: medium plus.
Swedish Head of the Demon hails from Stockholm, and has recently released their second album.
The trio consists of singer and guitarist Johannes from Mortuus and Ofermod et al.,
as well as guitarist and bassist Konstantin and drummer Thomas, who previously have
played together in A Mind Confused, Gods of Grief and Kaamos.
The band plays a kind of calm doom with occult undertones and a slant of 70's nostalgia, without sounding like every other
retro band out there. One explanation, in my subjective mind*, is perhaps that many retro bands have occult
themes wrapped in cheerful psychedelia, often with female figureheads. Head of the Demon has a progressive veil, but without excessive acid vibes, and they are not merry. This
album mixes melancholy, occult moods and a mild ominous feel. And the male vocalist doesn't even sing particularly clean.
Some lyrics are whispered, and other parts comes forth with raised voice and some distortion to it. Sometimes with a
flattering dark wail. *I'm on shaky ground here, folks.
Doom is essentially not my area of expertise, but I'm really quite found of the moods of somewhat eclectic and fairly
dystopian murkiness that the band conveys.
Said outdoor voice, guitar drift that deliver vital melodies with varying degrees of distortion and mournful timbre,
complementary bass and steady diverse percussion, works well together to create different songs and moods. Together,
they're not particularly compressed either. Every slight impact on the strings and cymbals can be heard in the airy
music. The production, with its DR8, ain't as dynamic as The Black Mass Sabbath Pulse below, but it's enough
to prevent the brick-wall, and it helps that the music has a lot of elbow room and clear, rich sound with decent punch
and nice bass.
I had low expectations, but the Swedes surprises with a distinctive witches brew, even this band on Walpurgis Night
itself, and I'm not even particularly excited about the genre to begin with. I guess the excitement among genuine
fans of occult doom with a nostalgic look at the 70s will exceed mine. Congratulations, Demon-Heads.
If you want to hear more than Sathanas Trismegistos, Zurvan's Ordeal and
L.L.L, cruiser over to The Ajna Offensive on SoundCloud.
EDIT 20.05.16: US release date has been altered, as the intended date (24.06.16) was pushed forward.
It had its charm, but was never prioritized due to lack of time.
Now the Greeks are back once again, and it still sounds like authentic primitive Greek extreme metal.
The band features two songs at roughly eight minutes each. The Black Mass Sabbath Pulse is also the name of the first track, starting with thin sound, staccato
rhythms and simple naked riffing with some support from synth before a middle section allows for more atmosphere, that
eventually cling on to the time axis and persists till the track dies out.
The title of the next song fits the release-date, set to Walpurgis Night, well. This is a night when most European witches
fly of to Blocksberg to celebrate Witches' Sabbath. Walpurgis, The Flight of Spectral Witches have gloomy
moods in mid-tempo from the very start, which also fits the songs title.
The biggest surprise considering what (low) expectations the musics primitive proto-black metal sound creates, is just
how much good heavy metal based guitar there actually is in the music. Ithaqua offer up some really
evocative and charming music.
Although my first impulse is that “it must be possible to do the same with rich sound” fades after a while. There is no
wall of sound here, which for a change is very relaxing in 2016. The primary instruments are extremely distinct. Turn up
the volume and guitars will leave scratches on your face while hard, dry strokes or picks at the bass slap you playfully on
the scrotum. (Did I really write that?) The airy production is yet another welcome surprise, that's reflected in the dynamic
register of wonderfully DR12. The mix could admittedly been a little more fine-tuned, as the vocals is sometimes
several meters in front of the instruments in the sound.
And synth... Similar tones could have been put down with a guitar track. If it's supposed to be necro-orthodox old school,
then... Nah, the synths at times creates a few suitably gothic horror moods, but its use could have been toned down a
Charming and tough, interesting and different, at least in a small dose, and this doesn't last for more than 16 minutes.
It can also be mentioned that vocalist and string bender Echetleos also handles bass in
Heathen Tribes Records, 28.04.16 Heathen Tribes has recently released American Seltar's two short releases Aŕe
teike and Declaración MMXV, originally released independently two months apart last fall.
They are now combined on one tape, but both are also available digitally for all those whom without sentimental whims
have donated prehistoric electronic junk to recycling. In addition, there are some loose plans for a CD, some time or
another. Selten is the one man band of Invierno.
Declaración MMXV was released as EP on August 12th 2015, and consists of two tracks totalling just over 17 minutes,
whereas Aŕe teike, released as full length album on October 14th, consists of three tracks totalling 29 minutes. Aŕe teike, which is dedicated to the ancient ancestors who lights up the way with their spirit, is
presented on side A.
There is no significant difference in sound, expression or song-writing on the two releases, which thereby merges fine on
an altogether 46 minutes long release. The music can be called atmospheric, melodic black metal with an adventurous mood
of the medieval and possibly even of Middle Earth. The music is soaring, while providing a sense of masculine courage that
has driven knights, musketeers, cowboys, warriors, heroes and adventurers to push themselves, physically and mentally, to
the absolute limit. Visions of inhospitable landscapes, discovered, conquested and conquered by stubbornness alone.
If I have to compare with other bands, I would argue that Summoning and Saor are fairly obvious choices as a general
In the musics woolly sound, something I won't nitpick at as I actually consider both these home-made short-duration releases
as demo recordings, it's not easy telling whether the band uses synth and drum machine, although especially the latter
sounds very likely. The guitars are multi-layered, and makes a resounding sound that can easily be mistaken for keyboard.
The music is tolerably good, and I think this band may become very majestic with a proper production.
The potential is huge. With a full band to contribute with ideas, critical thinking and elaborate instrumentation,
Seltar could probably have been taken to new heights. I'd recommend experimenting slightly with oriental,
folkloric and esoteric elements as well, Invierno, as I think it could provide the songs with stronger
signature and the overall music with more character.
Seltar allegedly mean tomb in Iberian, a pre-Latin languages of Spain, that disappeared as Latin
made its appearance some 1800 to 1900 years ago and replaced all other languages in the region, with the exception of Basque.
For fans of atmospheric underground metal with unpolished sound, this might just hit the sweet spot.
Both original digital releases are available as name your price.
Pulverised Records, 29.04.16
Chilean Uttertomb, earlier (un)known as Ultratomb, is obviously of the opinion that
sepulchral death metal should smell of death, decay and putrefaction.
With two songs of 7 minutes each, they do an autopsy on infected and muddy carcasses in a dusty tomb they've gotten
access to with a crowbars as the only key.
The band convey morbid moods of bloodthirsty madness in music that would have fitted the scenery of a typical Necrophagia
video well, in a scenario where some demented degenerate scum plays with the intestines of a half dissolved corpse that
flies and worms have long since made claim of. A macabre spectacle that takes place in a filthy outhouse on the most
shitty desolate and isolated place in Hillbilly Region, Redneck County. Ma lets 35 years old Junior, fourth generation
inbred outcast, keep doing what he wants, for the otherwise useless pariah has to have a hobby y'all know.
The music is uncomfortable in all the right ways. Nothing about the two songs feel superfluous, monotonous or repetitive. It's
dirty, perverted and hypnotic. The guitars swirl and roar, drums whips and bashes and the vocals forces forth ominous visions.
The Santiago-band has a demo, a split and two EPs to show for, this one included.
Hopefully they'll present an album before long.
In 2013, English Merciless Fail changed its name for Forged In Black after six years and
one EP in metal's service. Mainly to mark a more focused approach to their heavy/power metal. Though, also because
Forged In Black simply sounded much cooler, of course.
The band comes from Southend-on-Sea in Essex, about 60 kilometres east of London, and has mainly consisted of the same gang
for almost ten years. The band released their debut album just after the name change.
Fear Reflecting Fear is the band's second release under the new moniker, and it's an EP consisting of
four songs and a little more than 20 minutes of classic metal inspired by “the virtuosity and guitar melodies of traditional
metal, the power and energy of thrash metal, the atmosphere of the darkest doom and the epic scope of power metal”. I don't
hear much thrash, even if I find passages that could have worked in a melodic Megadeth context. Otherwise, a doomy
hybrid of heavy and power would form an alright description. A few occasional flirts with modern features should also be
mentioned, but only as brief seasoning.
The band blends and balances the different styles naturally, and the songs are melodic and diverse. The vocal is in the
power-lane and adds a bit of theatrical drama, while the band performs lively instrumentation. The vocals ain't quite
my style, but Chris Stoz Storozynsk has got an all right vocal range and technical execution. The songs
have good structures, but the melodies aren't necessarily the strongest. At its best, however, they have a memorable touch
you don't come across every day. Rhythmic diversity and wonderful solos must also be mentioned.
The guys have a fair flair for melodies and song-writing, and do a good job on Fear Reflecting Fear. Still,
the music feels a clue unfinished. Maybe caused a bit by the somewhat “strained and calculated” feeling a band has before
obtaining a more relaxed attitude rather than nerves and reservation. The album was recorded with Chris Tsangarides,
producer since the second half of the 70s, known for Painkiller and many more. The EP has gained a rather “dry studio
sound” that is clear, good, natural and roomy, but that does not give the music a lot of air under the wings to soar over
majestic and dramatic landscapes. It feels a little more indoors than outdoors, one can say, without there
being anything wrong with that. There's certainly nothing wrong with the dynamics. This is a respectable DR9 on average.
What I'm pointing out of negative nature, is basically quite nitpicky and unnecessary, for the music is fairly good.
Fans of traditional forms of metal from the 70s and 80s should do well keeping an eye on the Brits.
Vidargängr hails from Germany. Specifically, from Leipzig,
widely notorious for Mayhem's first live-album.
The Germans then also play traditional black metal in good (or evil) old tnbm spirit themselves.
The band was formed in 2010 and debuted on their own three years ago.
Precisely the very fact that they play to such a degree traditional black metal, may lead to a somewhat split opinion in
the reception of the album. Some believe the genre's original form has outlived its purpose, and I shall of course admit
that A World That Has To Be opposed scores low on originality. There are still plenty of those who believe
pure, unabated, vicious and aggressive misanthropy never loses its ability to spread the true message of nihilistic distrust,
satanic disgust and antagonistic opposition to society's Christian rhetoric.
Humans have a complex mindset that is neither one-dimensional nor black and white. Personally I lean more towards
a penchant for good old heretical blasphemy and arrogant, stand-tall, sacrilegious depravity. Yet I feel a hint of
ambivalence, as I have an even bigger respect for fresh and divergent innovation with depth and substance.
Vidargängr's strength is that they deliver as much gunpowder as there is room for within this orthodox
framework. The band delivers nearly 40 minutes off pitch black metal with punch, anger and spiteful, malignant mood. The
guys have written great songs that are performed with fervour and conviction. The music may not be on par with the very
best of what the genre has to offer, of course, but this is still solid. The sound is good and volume-friendly despite
mediocre dynamics. The worst necro(man)tics might possibly choke on the dark, distinctive bass, but that's a chance you
have to take.
Vidargängr might not pushes any boundaries, but the black fire burns fierce and unyielding. If you consider
the infernal flame of traditional black metal as the eternal and immortal truth; the culmination of musical contempt, I doubt
that you will be disappointed. (This sounded both pompous and pretentious, but fuck it, shut your hole and worship Satan.)
Iron Bonehead Productions, 29.04.16
The Greek sextet is out with their sixth album. The band has kept going without a hiatus since 1993, but is probably
still an underdog in the “Greek orthodox black metal scene”. It was reportedly 20 years ago, that the band developed
its pagan Hellenic style. Personally, I didn't discover the Greeks before the previous album, Isotheos
Considering that the title Πάτερ 'Ηλιε Μήτερ
Σελάνα can be a bit difficult to relate to, we'll rather use the English title
Father Sun Mother Moon.
The music on Father Sun Mother Moon is quite melodic pagan/folk with vibes from both Greece, Britain,
Eastern Europe and Asia. This is rather monotonous and atmospheric music, at times with sacral moods.
With bagpipes or equivalent in To Mother Moon and Hail to The Three Shaped Goddess,
we venture to the British highlands, whilst strings on The Taurian Artemis are more reminiscent of
traditional Chinese string instruments. There is a lot of really good instrumentation here, and the album is sometimes
both beautiful and comfortable. Particularly in these three songs.
Where Isotheos perhaps didn't have the most exciting melodies and structures, it at least sported rich
guitars, thick bass, hard drums and clean, velvety flute that overall made the album both rough, tough and comfortable
to listen to. Father Sun Mother Moon don't really have more to offer on excitement in the materials. The melodies are
rarely much more than passable. At times hardly mediocre. The music partly reminds me of Drudkh and Kroda
but is often quite repetitive and not very interesting. The three aforementioned songs raise the average somewhat, though.
Unlike Isotheos, this album has a softer sound where guitars are very little noticeable. Even the more
distinct drums has been filed down to rounder edges. The sound is a little fussy, while it has a slightly sharp and shrill
intensity to it. Everything is also mixed to approximately the same volume and the dynamics are low. This really doesn't
make it very tempting to turn up the volume.
Overall, this is not an album I'm going to get back to often. Strictly speaking, I have no time to get back to anything
often, but this will definitely not be played again until Kawir releases new music, and the need
for comparison occur. It's okay, but so-so just ain't doing, I'm afraid.