Filed under: Reviews | Tags: Arckanum, Asmund, Burzum, Grauzeit, Horna, Suidakra, Summoning
So a year later and I’m finally in the swing of things enough to get this shit going again. Here’s stuff.
Horna-Askel Lähempänä Saatanaa Country: Finalnd (Lappeenranta/Tampere)
Label: World Terror Committee
I got to see Horna last year when they decided to stick around longer after Maryland Deathfest and play some east coast shows. Luckily I wasn’t at one of the ones where Shatraug decided to piss on the audience, which he had done in Boston the night before. Honestly, I was up front and also desperately drunk so I don’t remember too much of the show. Except I woke up the next morning on my couch with all my clothes on and my pockets stuffed with blood-soaked pages from a Bible. That has no bearing on this record. This record wasn’t even out yet. The story fills space because it’s a Horna record; you know what you’re getting. You’re getting a cold dose of fairly dynamic and endlessly punishing black metal. Another solid release from Horna.
Grauzeit-Tyrannei der Tristesse
Country: Germany (Hamburg/Bavaria)
Label: Self-Mutilation Services
I’ve been gone for a year now. I didn’t even listen to new black metal in that year (except the new Darkthrone record). I return to the desk of judgement only to find that this shit is still going on. I was certain the whole first Bathory record meets Discharge meets Motorhead thing would have totally overwhelmed this shit by now. But no, we still have suicidal depressive post-black metal getting released. To say that this record is weak is as huge of an understatement as can be. There are moments on here where it sounds like the band is at least aware of what black metal sounds like. If you combined those moments, they would be about 1 minute in duration. I’m afraid if I listen to this for too long, my balls may drop off.
Country: Sweden (Mora)
Label: Season of Mist
There is a chance that I only started reviewing records again because I was subconsciously aware that a new Arckanum album came out. This is kind of like the Horna release in that it almost isn’t even worth reviewing: you know what it’s gonna sound like before you listen to it. Do you like Arckanum? If so, you’d probably like this. If not, you’re fucking stupid. The dude wears a fucking grandpa mask and walks around with a walking stick covered in knives. Plus, Arckanum writes the songs I wish I’d thought of. Except mine would be in English.
Summoning-Old Mornings Dawn
Country: Austria (Vienna)
Label: Napalm Records
The first time I heard this band, I fucking hated them. In fact, I kept hating them. Then one day, it all made sense to me. In reality, I still don’t really like it that much. This record I dislike significantly less than their past releases, but it’s really not my thing at all. The synthesizer overdose mixed with the shittiest guitar sound I’ve ever heard and what I think might be the occasional presence of hand drums are all really just not my thing. However, there are at least 1 or 2 songs on this record that I sort of enjoy. Only problem is, all the songs are like 9 minutes long so even if I do enjoy them, I’m mind-numbingly bored by the end of them. Plus, the whole Lord of the Rings schtick is wearing really fucking thin. But as I said, I hate it less than Oath Bound and I think I understand it now.
Country: Germany (Düsseldorf, North Rhine-Westphalia)
Label: AFM Records
TERRIFIC! MORE FUCKING SYNTHS! This is just my lucky fucking day, isn’t it (and I’m not even close to being done with the synths yet)? And laughing and horse-drawn cart soundbytes. What the fuck have I gotten into? But then the second track starts. And holy fuck. In all honesty, this is much more of a folk metal release than a pure black metal release. There are a lot of bagpipes. But, and I don’t say this lightly, this is one of the best folk metal albums ever recorded. Somehow, this manages to avoid all the hokey stupidity of the genre’s forefathers and is, in actuality, a pretty terrific record.
Asmund-К чертогам Славы*
Country: Russia (Kaluga)
Label: Der Schwarze Tod
What NI review set would be complete without the presence of blatantly fascistic black metal records from Eastern Europe? There’s a part of me that just wants to give this an automatic 0/5 because it’s a nazi-glorifying record from Russia and that is fucking stupid. But I’m a masochist so I actually listened to the record. I was shocked at how good the production value is. It’s a black metal record. From Russia. Made by neo-fascists. Why the hell can I hear what’s going on? Overall, this isn’t the worst Russian fascistic black metal record I’ve ever heard. It’s pretty repetitive and pretty weak as far as the guitars are concerned. The drumming isn’t half bad, neither are the vocals. I’m sure if I spoke Russian I would be deeply offended. Overall, if someone other than neo-nazis from Russia had released this identical album (with a different cover maybe. Also that cover is fucking stupid) it would probably do quite well.
Burzum-Sôl Austan, Mâni Vestan*
Country: Norway/France (Bergen/Limousin)
Label: Byelobog Productions
Funny story. Given the declining quality of the past 2.5 Burzum releases, I was 100% prepared to hate this release with all of my heart. And I’m willing to guess that most people will hate this release. I do not. I didn’t hate Dauði Baldrs or Hliðskjálf. When Varg said he was going to start releasing black metal again, I was hoping for basically a new Burzum/Aske or Det Som Engang Var. Instead I got a rerecorded version of that record and Varg attempting to make something that sounds like a black metal album. It was sort of a let down. When I read that this record was going to be a synthesizer record like the two he made in jail, I wasn’t sure what to think. But this sounds like the logical next step. It’s like Belus or Fallen or From the Depths of Darkness or Umskiptar never happened. In the case of the latter two, I wish they hadn’t. I think Burzum should probably just keep making this record from now on. Since when does Varg give a fuck about fans?
Expect one of these a month until this computer breaks or I die or something.
Warbastard’s notes: From now on a * next to the artist-title implies that it is an NS/Racialist release. I’ll put something about that somewhere.
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: Asenheim, Dødsengel, Flagellant, Lucifugum, Mutilation Rites, Tulus
A day late, a dollar short. I had to move, so you’ll all just have to live with it.
Lucifugum-Od Omut Serpenti
Country: Ukraine (Mykolayiv)
This record could be called “When Drum Machine Black Metal Goes Horribly Wrong”, which, now that I think of it, could be the name of the first Deildegast demo as well. However, the drum machine, no matter how shoddy of a device it is, is not this record’s downfall. That distinct honor falls on just about all of the other elements on the record. There is very little continuity in the riffing. That is to say, at the end of every riff, there is a brief pause before the next riff stops. A little bit of post-production could have erased that problem, but I guess the producer went on a kvass run when he was supposed to be erasing the sad byproduct of putting 800 different riffs into each song but not recording them sequentially. The male vocals on this record sound too silly to have been delivered seriously and the female vocals are almost all just spoken. The culmination of these two factors results in a traffic jam of black metal mediocrity that I probably could have done without. Disappointing, since I distinctly remember enjoying Stigma Egoism. It seems odd that a black metal band would release an album of this caliber this far into their career.
Country: Norway (Ålesund)
Label: Terratur Possessions
Fuck this record is long. I’m sure Dødsengel had a perfectly good reason for releasing a 2 disc full length this year, even though if you deleted all the nonsense spoken word cum-new Burzum tracks this would probably only be an EP. That being said, I actually enjoy this record. Automatic 5 point addition for being a full band and not some douche in a bedroom. When this record isn’t skipping merrily down memory lane with “old Europa” chanting and fucking Greek song titles, it’s actually doing a damn good job at being a punishing black metal record, albeit a punishing black metal record with some pretty fucking odd vocals. When compared to the current state of many of Dødsengel’s fellow Norwegians in the field that they pretty much sowed, this record is fucking exceptional. I come away from this effort feeling generally pleased. If only it wasn’t so fucking long.
Mutilation Rites-I Am Legion
Country: USA (NYC, NY)
Label: Gilead Media
I’ve been hearing a lot about Mutilation Rites, presumably in anticipation of their full-length that comes out in May. I figured it was high time I give these guys a good solid crack. And once again, like Salo, I was pleasantly surprised. I walk into listening to this EP with the same assumption I have of all black metal from my soon-to-be home: hype+black metal band from NYC+beards=big fucking letdown. You see a lot of bands that are just art school dummies who watched that Vice documentary on Gaahl or old hardcore bands that decided to change format because this is 2012 and no one goes to fucking hardcore shows anymore (although I hear they’re coming back). But, it would seem that Mutilation Rites falls into my coveted “Third Category” which at the moment, as far as New York City is concerned, only consists of Mutilation Rites, Salo, and Negative Plane. But with this three song EP, I am totally sold. The music is complex, yet stripped down. Equally melodic and blood-curdling. I am now entirely excited for the full-length, this EP left me desiring so much more. Why couldn’t this have been the 2-disc release instead of Dødsengel?
Tulus-Olm og Bitter
Country: Norway (Oslo)
Label: Tabu Recordings
I like that Tulus became Khold, then became Tulus again, and are now both. Way to avoid all possibility of a Gorgoroth-style name fight. Tulus suffers from Taake Syndrome which is what I’m going to call it from now on when Norwegian black metal bands just keep rereleasing the same album over and over again. Like Taake, the album Tulus wrote is a good one and they made a pretty good choice ditching the candelabra Cradle of Filth aesthetics. I also have to give Tulus a lot of credit for not buying into trends in black metal and turning into a pale carbon copy of a band that is trying to sound like them (that was directed squarely at Varg). Tulus is very heavy. This album refuses to relent, partially at the hands of an audible bass. Now, that may damage their “trve” credentials, along with decent production, non-photocopied album art and not 45 minutes of unbroken blastbeat, but this record sits just fine with me anyway, even if it is just a little bit unadventurous. Better than the new Immortal record. Better than basically all of Emperor’s records apart from In the Nightside Eclipse. It’s always these bands that weren’t hugely controversial and on the fringes of the Black Metal Evil Guys Club that actually managed to make records that are not only listenable but enjoyable.
Country: Germany (Mosbach, Baden Württemberg)
As someone with a one man black metal band forced to use a drum machine and with way too much time on my hands, I have a number of tips I would like to share with Tiwaz of Asenheim. Tip 1: always make sure your guitar is in tune, especially if you’re going to dump a ton of piano interludes on your record. People WILL notice. And not in a good way. Tip 2: bury the shitty computer drums as low in the production as possible. They sound shitty. You might want to put a ton of distortion and reverb on them too, it’s the only way they are going to sound remotely real. But still bury them under everything. Tip 3: you are the only one who wants to hear any forays into neo-classical/folk music. No one else does. Do not use them ad nauseum. Tip 4: If you have a friend who sounds like Nico, do not let her do female vocals. Nico sounded like a man. Tip 5: Do NOT under ANY circumstances use “claps”. Tip 6: google the name you want to give the album and make sure no one famous has used it already. Not so important but I’ve now listened to this demo all the way through and I still can’t help but think of Rammstein. Follow these steps. Anyone thinking about paying real tangible currency for this record should probably just not do that.
Country: Germany (Munich, Bavaria)
Wimpy guitars can go fucking die. The guitars on this rip about as much flesh as a Buddhist monk in a pillow store. This record is troubling to me because it’s yet another release that sounds more like post-hardcore than black metal, a trend popping up a lot these days. Thing is, if this were actually a good post-hardcore record, I’d probably still listen to it (though it would be struck from this review immediately for lack of relevance). But it’s not. It’s repetitive, the guitars are weak (see above), the drums are slow and boring, and the vocals are basically non-existent. Why even have a vocalist? It’s not like I can hear it beneath the gigantic pile of weak guitars and shitty drums. I thought I would at least sort of like this record based on nothing of concrete merit. I was wrong. I hate this record. This band also broke up after this came out. Good. They were not a good band.
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: Bizarre Uproar, Bloodmoon, Enthroned, Goatmoon, Hail Spirit Noir, Happy Days, Revenge, Secrets of the Moon, Waste
I’ve been putting this review set off for like a month. It’s gotten rather long and I think it’s finally time to finish it.
Country: Canada (Edmonton, AB)
Label: Nuclear War Now! Productions
This record is really punishing. I’m not super fond of the vocals, but the music definitely sounds like an army of demons raping the shit out of some angels. What impresses me is that this record sounds like what normal well adjusted people who don’t listen to metal hear when they hear any metal of any kind. It’s all Satan and violence and pure totally unfiltered sonic aggression. Where those people are wrong is in their assumption that that is somehow a bad thing. More Satan, more murder, all the shit that makes metal fucking awesome. This record kind of makes me want to take drugs and hate my parents too. This is the record Tipper Gore heard when she listened to WASP. I love it. Incidentally, I recently discovered that the sanctimonious British dickheads over at Zero Tolerance did not, despite their review not being all that different from mine. Maybe they were just upset that this was not an album by Primordial.
Secrets of the Moon-Seven Bells
Country: Germany (Osnabrück, Lower Saxony)
Label: Lupus Lounge
I have huge reservations about pretty much any black metal band that someone actually produced. There is a purist side of me that thinks any attempt to make the music sound better run contrary to the genre completely. Then there’s the side of me that is a musician and a fan of things that weren’t made by gloomy Europeans in basements that thinks that the sea of unproduced bullshit is unlistenably bad. It is this internal strife that makes reviewing this record really hard. For this one, I have to put all of my black metal “trve” bullshit aside. This record is very melodic and very sharply produced, which means none of the melody is lost under a wall of unintentional static. Now, I’ve in the past gone out of my way to fault bands for their egregious use of keyboard. This band is the model from which all other bands should take note. Perfectly understated keyboard, present yet not pushed to the front of everything. This is what produced black metal should sound like, not Dimmu Borgir. They went pretty nuts with the church bell sound effects on this one, but I can overlook that.
Country: USA (San Luis Obispo, CA)
What the fuck am I listening to? Metal Archives tells me that this band makes “progressive black/doom metal”, which I can only imagine means that drummer cannot stop playing fill. The songs are still generally in x/4 signatures, but with a ton of bells and whistles, which apparently denote Bloodmoon’s “progressive” influences. The vocals sound somewhere between deathcore-style pig squeals and someone burping a lot. I’m glad this was only a demo, clocking in at just under 25 minutes. I probably couldn’t take much more of what I’ve already forced myself to endure.
Hail Spirit Noir-Pneuma
Country: Greece (Thessaloniki, Central Macedonia)
This record is very strange. HSN throws caution to the wind on Pneuma. They are about 6 different bands at the same time. Similar to the Sigh record I reviewed a few weeks ago, but somehow far more jarring and less rooted in familiarity. Hail Spirit Noir have managed to craft a record that leaves you scratching your head and wondering what the hell you just listened to. The parts of this album that are unmistakably black metal, in my opinion, are relatively weak. That being said, the rest of the record is rather well done, with the black metal seeming to act primarily to throw the listener off entirely. I come away from this record completely shell shocked and unsure of what I should be feeling. In that respect, this record wields more power than most of the records I’ve reviewed on here. Think Peste Noire but with many more influences and far more unsettling.
Waste-In Death Reborn
Country: Sweden (?)
The cover of this demo is making it really hard for me to take it seriously. This record is a generous slab of cold, old-style black metal, rife with mind-numbing repetition and guitars that sound like they could bore a hole straight through you. Gone are synthesizers and samples and beautiful acoustic guitar interludes and all the other shit that black metal bands (including my own) cannot get enough of as of late. The songs aren’t epic musical conquests, twirling blithely in what ever direction they feel like. There’s no 13 minute unproduced orchestral masterpieces. This record is terse and in-your-face. But, speaking of faces, that face aKa of Waste is making on the cover is really so immensely silly. However, we are talking about a genre of music who’s modern wave was primarily influenced by Norwegian dwarf-people wearing halloween face paint and getting into pissing contests to see who was the most evil. I guess silly imagery comes with the territory.
Happy Days-Cause of Death: Life
Country: USA (Miami, FL)
Label: Funeral Industries
Suicidal depressive metal bands just reek of emo to me. If you give frowny-faced white people guitars, it would seem there isn’t a wide variety of paths they’re going to go down. But in the case of “Cause of Death: Life” from these sad Floridian bastards, there are very prominent sections of this record that sound like boring late 90′s emo. I’ll go so far as to say that it would seem emo bands are better at consistently releasing good album than black metal bands are. What turns me off about this album is the high school poetry-grade song titles and the weak pandering to negative emotion. “Cold Aggression”, “No Point in Living”, “Agony Becomes Unforgettable Seering Emptiness”. Shut up. I guess this could spark a train of thought about the purpose of suicidal depressive black metal, but I don’t really feel like getting into it again. This record is unimpressive, it’s music is, despite moments where it sounds like Sunny Day Real Estate, flat and unadventurous. It’s lyrics are abysmally retarded. Here’s an idea: less songs about killing yourself, more songs about killing other people.
Country: Belgium (Brussels)
Enthroned suffers from the Napalm Death ailment of continuing a band after all of the founding members have left said band. Just change the name, dudes. That has no bearing on the record itself, just a little factoid that had been irking me. Musically, “Obsidium” is a no frills, straight ahead, brutal black metal record. All of the stylized bullshit that black metal bands have come to rely on (acoustic guitar interludes, synthesizer tracks, samples of fucking trees blowing in the wind) are refreshingly absent on this release, replaced with even more punishing black metal. It’s incredibly refreshing to hear a band that didn’t get started so that the members could have an excuse to run around in the woods and pretend to be evil. I had low hopes for this record and I am admittedly not very familiar with the Enthroned back catalog, perhaps this album is actually very disappointing. But from where I’m standing (sitting), this is the kind of black metal that “the kids” should be putting on a pedestal. Not another time-waster from Varg out there on his farm.
Goatmoon/Bizarre Uproar split
Country: Finland (Helsinki)
Label: Filth & Violence
Goatmoon’s back. Sort of. And I still feel guilty for enjoying his output. I’m not sure what the deal is with the NS influence within the Finnish scene, but it seems like every single band has been accused of being a national socialist at one point or another. To be honest, it makes all of the accusations pretty hard to believe. Anyway, I’m sure the RABM bands that stumble onto the website will be more than happy to give me a ton of shit for this, but the Goatmoon side of this split is pretty fucking rad. It consists of one 7 and a half minute song that is almost 3 songs withing itself. May I once again reiterate that I really wish I didn’t think Goatmoon was as good as I do? I cannot review the Bizarre Uproar side because it’s harsh noise and I don’t think there is a criteria to review harsh noise. It is both harsh and noise. It fits both descriptions. This, I suppose, is an attempt to close in on the NSNW (national socialist noise wall) demographic, something I find to be generally amusing. Go poke around google in search of NSNW artist and prepare to be amazed at how deadly seriously they take themselves. Anyway, despite all that shit, Goatmoon does black metal well on here, Bizarre Uproar does harsh noise wall well on here (I think). Generally a success.
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: Alkerdeel, Auspicium, Dark Forst, Granskog, Marnost, Seeds in Barren Fields, Stob Dearg, Subdued
It’s unseasonably warm here in New York for March. I’m not fond of this. To make up for the mini-heat wave, here’s more black metal. If it can’t be cold outside, it can at least be cold in here. Excitingly enough, this time around I actually had a few submissions. Keep the submissions coming. It makes me job infinitely easier.
Marnost/Seeds in Barren Fields-Split
Country: Czech Republic (?)/Sweden (Gothenburg)
This release was submitted semi-anonymously through the comment section of an earlier post. Now, I’ve been let down by a number of bands who I’ve reviewed on here. That is to say I’ve favorably reviewed them and then waited eagerly for a new release from them, only to have that new release be an atrocious mess. This record does not fall in that category at all. I reviewed Marnost’s freshman demo, Pukajici Svet, back when this project was still a shitty tumblr blog. And though it is evident I don’t see directly eye to eye with Marnost politically, that demo was still very good. This split has not let me down. More of Marnost’s slow paced grim freakouts with what I can only imagine are deeply political subject manner. The latter of the two tracks, by Gothenburg’s Seeds in Barren Fields, shares a lot of stylistic similarity to Marnost, but have a little bit more of a crust edge to them. Still quite good. I love when bands can prove me wrong and consistently release worthwhile material, it gives me a glimmer of hope for the sinking ship that is black metal.
Dark Forest-Land of the Evening Star
Country: Canada (Calgary, AB)
Label: Bleak Art Records
I generally hate synth-heavy black metal or viking metal or heathen metal or whatever the hell this band refers to themselves as. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it’s a product of the genre-wide over-instrumentation of the genre. But this record isn’t terrible. It’s not great either. Musically, this record kind of just sits there for me. My real issue comes with the subject matter. The issue I have with this and many other viking-influenced black metal acts world wide is the obvious and completely ridiculous Manowar-esque auto-stylization of these bands into viking supermen when in fact, they’re just dudes. There’s an element of escapism to be recognized in it, for sure. But when, for example, a band from Calgary, Alberta is writing songs about being “The Northmen of the New World”, it just comes across as kids LARPing in the woods. Bland music plus silly subject matter equals not into this record at all. The mobs of viking-obsessed 16-year-old black metal fans out there will likely eat this up.
Stob Dearg-Nocturnal Witchcraft demo
Country: UK (Perth/Edinburgh, Scotland)
I love finding demos that aren’t complete shit. It makes this whole process make me feel like Indiana Jones or something. Now, this being a demo, it is not perfect at all. It sort of oscillates between uninteresting and great. At no point is it bad. As some points, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher due to some odd choices in songwriting but they’re not my songs so whatever. The thing I thought was the greatest thing about this demo comes at the beginning of the second to last track: a sample of Sean Connery from The Highlander. I didn’t realize people from Scotland ACTUALLY liked the Highlander, on account of it was a tremendous piece of shit and Christopher Lambert is a weird French Canadian guy. But I found this sample to be most excellent. And I found this demo also to be most excellent.
Granskog-Black Mountain’s Embrace demo
Country: Ukraine (Chernivtsi)
Label: Werewolf Promotion
NSBM demo from the Ukraine? How could I possibly resist? A major initial observation would be that this record is rife with weird and completely indecipherable sounds. I’d imagine they’re there to create a sort of brooding isolated ambiance but instead, they kind of just sound like, among other things, crackly static, a metronome, and someone shooting off fireworks at the lonliest 4th of July barbecue ever. Another thing I noticed right off was that this record has a lot of soft interludes, also presumably to create the same above-mentioned ambiance, that are about as poorly executed as they could be. Aside from this, these songs are pretty much your standard fair for one-man NSBM bands. The Goatmoon cover isn’t half bad but halfway through I started hearing this weird noise that I can only assume was there intentionally, then I got distracted and started listening to Rhapsody (of Fire). I don’t even like Rhapsody (of Fire), which is an indicator of just where this review is going.
Country: Belgium (Zomergem, East Flanders)
Label: ConSouling Sounds
Before I say anything about the record itself, what the hell is going on on the cover here? Is that a fox beating a bird with a stick? Is there some sort of reference to Flemish folklore I’m missing out on here? Ok, now that that’s out of the way, the music. This whole black/doom cross-pollination that’s been going on for the past few years has yielded some pretty fucking terrible results. This band apparently doesn’t give a fuck about those results and went in kind of a different direction with it. The slow doomy parts retain the lo-fi black metal raspiness and make this record fucking terrifying. The initial track’s blast off from drudge into blastbeat is a little bit awkward, but then when you’re least prepared for it, it collapse into lurch once again. That is where this record excels: at taking you completely off-guard and then facefucking you with either the scariest sounding doom metal you’ve ever heard or bone-meltingly harsh blasts. I cannot get enough of it.
Country: Russia (Chelyabinsk region)
Label: FRLGN rec
This record also makes me uncomfortable, mostly because all of the levels are peaking like crazy and everything is super washed out. I couldn’t listen to this on speakers because it was a bassy mess. I’m listening to it on headphones, which doesn’t really help the situation too much. It’s not even like it’s no-fidelity. It’s almost like it’s intentionally bad production. Once you get through the wall of awful production, you find that this band seems to have only written one song and that song is pretty fucking bad. Avoid avoid avoid.
Auspicium-For The World That Was And that Is To Come
Country: USA (Portland, ME)
This one comes suggested to me from the man himself, Patrick Hasson, who is the sole member of Auspicium and also the sole member of Avulse, who’s I Am The Liquor I reviewed a few months back. As of late, I’ve become highly critical of atmospheric black metal, considering a vast majority of it is complete garbage. However, Auspicium is rather adept at capturing a sort of vast isolation, kind of like standing on the mountain on the cover. There’s something about the production wash that makes this album feel freezing cold and blasted by arctic wind. Plus George Carlin samples. Patrick Hasson also runs the Attila the Hun blog where you can pick up a lot of the projects he’s been in over the years plus other stuff.
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: Aeba, Demoncy, Eschaton, Feral, Lunar Aurora, Salö, Sigh
Oh look, they’re still putting out records.
Salö-Mangia Merda e Morte
Country: USA (Brooklyn, NY)
My home state doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to black metal, and this band hails from the epicenter of appropriated crap-culture, so I had to fight an unconscious urge to not even listen to this and give it a terrible review. But I would be missing out if I’d done so. This is just a little EP, 3 songs under 15 minutes, but it’s pretty mighty. The black metal/doom crossover for me is usually a hallmark of a drummer not being fast enough to blast but in this case, it works. The vocals sound utterly inhuman (and are delivered by someone who at one time was the singer for local animal rights-grind outfit Animals Killing People, who are hilarious). Definitely pretty creepy, this record has me looking forward to future releases from these frozen doom maniacs. Sadly, BrooklynVegan beat me to this one.
Country: Germany (Rosenheim, Bavaria)
Label: Cold Dimensions
Ok, hold up…
Sweater metal? Knit woolen sweater metal? All sweaters and bucket hats aside, the instrumentation on this record is relatively strong with the exception of what I would classify is an unhealthy amount of synthesizer noodling. It’s not particularly forward, but it seems relatively omnipresent. It’s a distraction in the sense that it ever-so-slightly strikes sour to my ear. Aside from that, this record is pretty solid; dense and relatively slick production that still manages to retain the chill of the music. A pretty good release, to be sure. Occasionally the vocal production crosses the line into the realm of kitsch, but it’s 2012. Everyone’s doing it. Just maybe lay off the synth.
Country: Austria (Linz, Upper Austria)
I get the distinct feeling that a lot of people would really enjoy this record. Eschaton appears to have drawn influence from various eclectic sources in crafting Isolated Intelligence. That being said, their drummer loves his double bass pedal a lot. So much so that it’s probably one of the most prominent features on the record, which also features breakdowns. Why this record features these breakdowns is beyond me. The proclivity of mixing hardcore and metalcore with black metal is one I’ve been noticing for the past few months. If the vocals were less shrill and the guitarwork less deeply rooted in the minor barre chord, this would be an early 2000′s metalcore release. But this record does strike me at moments as being very unique, unlike any mix of the above-mentioned genres I’ve heard yet.
Aeba-Nemesis-Decay of God’s Grandeur
Country: Germany (Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein)
I just learned that Aeba stands for Astaroth, Eurynome, Bael and Amducias, the four archdemons from the Book of Revelations. That’s dumb. This record, in my opinion is relatively bland. I have a lot of trouble staying focused on it, which may be partially the fault of the hundreds of black metal albums I’ve listened to in maintaining this blog. I tend to find that a lot of the German bands who’s records I review tend to have a sort of flat quality to them. They sort of go through the motions of being a black metal record and tend to not stand out for me at all. Now, this is by no means the case with all releases from Deustchland, but there is definitely a sizable percentage that fall to this malady. This is one of them. It’s almost as if there’s a handbook on writing a black metal record going around. Oh wait, there is. It’s called Lords of Chaos and they were pretty off point.
Demoncy-Enthroned is the Night
Country: USA (Seattle, WA)
Label: Forever Plagued Records
Holy fuck, this record is dense. There are a lot of black metal records that have distinctly hellish sonic quality, but this record actually kind of sounds like what I’d imagine hell to sound like. The guitars are so low, the drums so indistinguishable, the lyrics so distant and tortured. To put it bluntly, this release is downright evil. Being the junior anthropologist I am (real Hardy Boys type shit), I did a little digging and decided that the heaviness found on this record could be attributed to the fact that Demoncy originally hails from North Carolina/Georgia, which is doom country. But I could be totally wrong. And to be perfectly honest, it doesn’t really make the least bit of difference. What matter is that this record is brutal. Brutal as fuck.
Country: Japan (Tokyo)
Label: Candlelight Records
It seems like with every record they put out, Sigh turns into a different band. The thread that strings all of this stylistic pogoing together is that Sigh are incredibly odd, by Western standards. But, as the band that released Scorn Defeat on Deathlike Silence back in 1993 during the height of black metal’s first ascent of Trend Mountain, they eternally have a place in the hearts of many self-proclaimed “trve black metal warriors”. This record is practically dripping with classic metal influences. This one has a huge NWOBHM influence on it, shredding solos and galloping riffs. But, this being a Sigh record, that doesn’t even begin to explain it. Saxophones, sitars, static and about a metric ton of organ all have their turn. This record is truly bizarre, occupying a space somewhere between Mr. Bungle and Iron Maiden. But I wouldn’t expect anything less from Sigh at this point.
Country: USA (Portland, ME)
I feel strongly about keeping at least a generous portion of this blog dedicated to the underexposed and the obscure. It occurs to me that “famous” black metal bands don’t need any more exposure than they already get. I started Northern Isolation as a demo review blog and I’d like to think that I keep that alive in some capacity or another. So here’s a demo. You can’t really fault a demo for poor production because it’s a demo. This demo was apparently created with the assistance of Jordan from Falls of Rauros who, if you remember, released my favorite black metal record of last year. To what capacity he helped out with it, I am not sure. The demo at hand here is relatively frantic, sort of emitting a sense of urgency in the music. It’s not the greatest demo I’ve heard in a long time, but it’s by far not the worst either. I feel that Feral has a lot of potential that is on the verge of being realized. We shall see.
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: A Cloud Forest, Drudkh, Förgjord, Goatwhore, Hellsaw, Nattfog, Sektemtum, U-235
Now it’s March. Reviews.
A Cloud Forest-October’s Overture
Country: USA (Phoenix, AZ)
Label: Silence and Solitude Records
Ok, I have insulted bands from Arizona on here in the past, at least partially for being from Arizona. My foot is firmly in the mouth. This release is killer. October’s Overture is equal parts dense and sparse: when it kicks off you hardly have space to move. When it drops off, you feel like you’re very much alone in the middle of a tremendous desert. This is a highly evocative release, which may be the result of this album being split up into just 4 tracks, the longest of which clocks in at about 25 minutes. One of the best releases of the year thus far.
Drudkh-Eternal Turn of the Wheel
Country: Ukraine (Kharkiv)
Label: Season of Mist
Drudkh seems to have returned to form. Handful of Stars sucked. It was a tame sounding duller Drudkh and it seemed (to me at least) that this might be the end of what had once been my favorite black metal band operating east of the Iron Curtain. This record reverses all of this. This record sounds like the Handful of Stars never happened and Drudkh went straight from Microcosmos into Eternal Turn of the Wheel. I am once again very excited for Drudkh’s further output.
Country: Finland (Pieksämäki)
Label: Hammer of Hate
This record is a huge blast from the past. If someone told me this was outtakes from the Deathcrush sessions, I would likely believe them. It’s a little less focused than the records it’s trying to emulate, it tends to wander off in slower directions which is cool if that’s what you look for in black metal. As far as I’m concerned it’s a pretty effective midpoint between the old school and blackened thrash metal. Of course, a great deal of this record is lost on me because I am not from Finland, but musically, I’m still pretty into it.
Sektemtum-Aut Caesar Aut Nihil
Country: France (Montpellier, Languedoc-Roussillon)
Label: Osmose Productions
3 glowing reviews in a row? Too good to be true. What is with all the fucking chugging on this release? Palm muting doesn’t really have so much of a place in black metal. On top of that, the drums are very tame, with the exception of a double bass roll that pretty much remains the same in every song. On top of THAT, parts of this record sound like something that could be right at home on the latest Morbid Angel record. But maybe the reason I hate this release is because it’s just…(wait for it)…TOO EXTREME!
U-235-Time… Judicium of the Last Church
Country: Ukraine (Kremenchuk, Poltava)
Ok, admittedly, I didn’t know what the name of this band was in reference to, so I had to fire up the old Wikipedia machine. U-235 is an isotope of uranium. Run it back: we have a band from the Ukraine who are named after an isotope of uranium. Get it yet? No? They have a song called “26.04.86″. Know what happened on April 26th, 1986 in the Ukraine? Ok, so U-235 sing about the Chernobyl disaster a lot. They’re not particularly interesting musically. They’re pretty fast and pretty raw. By that standard, they’re great. But bands have been singing about radiation for decades now. Them being from Ukraine does give a sort of advanced level of reality to it, but at heart it’s still another metal band singing about nuclear explosions. And on a musical level, it’s just another harsh raw black metal band (let me clarify not “raw black metal”, raw comma black metal).
Nattfog-Mustan Auringon Riitti
Country: Finland (Kotka, Kymenlaakso)
Label: Hammer of Hate
It’s been a while since an NS band turned up on here. If I’m not mistaken, the last one was also from Finland. But whereas Goatmoon were an NS band I felt were actually rather talented and skilled, Nattfog come across as blundering and tactless. To illustrate how tactless, at one point I couldn’t listen to this anymore so I put on Absurd who are, themselves, rather tactless. In summation, don’t listen to this. Even if you’re a nazi.
Goatwhore-Blood For the Master
Country: USA (New Orleans, LA)
Label: Metal Blade Records
I don’t get the hype around Goatwhore. Where one of my hallmarks of a great band is it’s ability to strike me regardless of production of musical skill, this band has plenty of both and still doesn’t really strike me at all. Another thing I don’t understand is the cult of Ben Falgoust, singer of Goatwhore and Soilent Green. I’m just flat out not impressed with the latter at all. Meanwhile, I just find myself severely underwhelmed with Goatwhore. All hype-related speculation aside, this isn’t a bad record. If you like what Goatwhore has accomplished thus far, Blood For The Master will tickle you pink. I’m still trying to figure how how this isn’t cookie cutter black/death.
Country: Austria (Graz, Styria)
Label: Napalm Records
This record quite literally has something for everyone who’s ever hazarded to publicly admit “I like black metal”. It has old school “Funeral Fog” worship for the purists. It has sparkling production for the Dimmu Borgir weekend warrior crowd. Equal parts melodic and punishing, I have to admit based on the slick designs and this bands penchant for promotional photography that makes them look about 1 top hat away from Dimmu, I was pretty sure I was going to hate this. I love surprises.
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: Abstürmer, Addaura, Aetherius Obscuritas, Kilju, Moonfrost, Theudho, Waning
A few days ago, I was thinking about how angry I always am when I do these reviews. I was thinking about how positivity when approaching these records might be a nice change of pace. Constructive criticism might actually help some of the weaker ones get better. I had all these thoughts and than, shortly afterward, I had a second thought. “Fuck that.” New year, same old angry bullshit. I have been incredibly lazy with this post.
Abstürmer-Abstürmer Nuclear Hell
Country: Canada (Calgary, AB) or Norway (?) There seems to be some confusion/heavy posing.
Released: 6/6/1966 (but actually sometime this month)
This band is a joke. Apparently in Canada, having a fake black metal band is still very hilarious. Only difference is, these guys accidentally are a real band who can really write songs that don’t suck. To be honest, this Absturmer EP kind of sounds the way I wish Behemoth could sound, because Behemoth are a fucking joke. A stupid Polish joke. But in any case, Absturmer are ACTUALLY a joke, but still kick out some super frantic blackgrind. They are also fond of bikes, cats, and short shorts. I’m expecting a message from the members of this band threatening me for not buying into their “hilarious” facade like the rest of the internet has. At least I like the record.
Label: Self Released?
If you read the Finland part of Lords of Chaos, you will have at least heard the word Kilju before. Michael Moynihan and Didrik Søderlind apparently didn’t do any research into what it is (fermented sugar and yeast. Sounds disgusting, especially because all the tutorials I’ve found seem to include plastic buckets). This band takes the formula for blackened death metal and twists it around a bit. Gone are the Dissectiony hyper riffs. The recipe on this record calls for more isolation between the influences. It’s almost as if two bands are playing at once, which I have to say, I don’t totally hate.
Country: Switzerland (Solothurn)
Label: Gravity Entertainment
Ah Switzerland. I can always rely on you to produce extreme metal that makes me extremely uncomfortable. This record helped me come to the conclusion that black metal probably should never progress. This album is fantastic, to be sure. But, like so many bands that get their records reviewed on here, there is nothing here that cannot be found elsewhere. This stands as a testament to the genre, that experimentation does not always denote progress. This is deeply familiar, yet it does not prevent it from being extremely good.
Country: Hungary (Szigetvár)
I knew this was all too good to be true: three generally positive reviews in a row? Unthinkable. As should be expected, the fourth release to work it’s way on here this month brings us back to a familiar tone: the tone of horrible black metal making me fucking furious. Ok, this maybe isn’t horrible. The vocals are definitely horrible, not to mention the singer at times has a heap of trouble keeping up with the music, something that overdubs appear to be powerless to correct. And while we’re on the subject of the vocals, how many fucking effects are you going to pile on one vocal track? It’s like the first time I used garageband and I decided it would be fun to record my vocals and put a million effects on it to make it sound funny, except these guys decided that the world needed to hear that. The music itself isn’t awful, if not vanilla as far as black metal goes. But my fucking god, those vocals really do fuck it up for me.
Theudho-When Ice Crowns the Earth
Country: Belgium (Ghent, East Flanders)
Label: Aurora Australis Records
As an American separated from the culture of fringe weirdos in Europe by a big fucking ocean, I forget that most of Europe can legitimately lay claim to viking heritage as a result of those raping seafarers basically running amok across the continent for 200 years. I throw this record on here primarily for that aesthetic link, for this is not a black metal album. Moments of this album remind me of about a million other bands that sing about being vikings. But no one of them sounds exactly like this, making this, in a way, the perfect viking metal album: bits of Amon Amarth, bits of latter era Bathory, bits of Unleashed. Who really gives a fuck about anything else? This band gets a big fat F- for originality, but let’s be honest here: who really gives a fuck about that? There’s something delightfully saccharin about a band who’s elements you can recognize almost immediately in their sound. This record hits my viking sweet spot.
Addaura-Burning For The Ancient
Country: USA (Seattle, WA)
Hey atmospheric black metal bands. You all have the same “atmosphere”. It’s called “uneven production”. All bad or all good, pick a side.
Waning-The Human Condition
Country: Sweden (Gothenburg, Västra Götalands län)
Label: Antonym Records
This is violently unappealing. This record reminds me on some level of the more melodic side of early 2000′s metalcore, but with the vocals of latter-era Dimmu Borgir. I don’t need to be reminded of what I thought was super cool when I was a sophomore in high school and this band, I have concluded (at least from this record), serves only to do that. Unfortunately for Waning (should they ever hazard to give the slightest shit about what I have to say on here, which I doubt they ever will), these connections date their sound to a very specific time: 2003. Dark fucking times (notice that I said “fucking” and not “medieval”).
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: gates to deathland, gorgoroth, mordant, nameless coyote, Neige et Noirceur, neptrecus, ride for revenge
It was supposed to snow, but it didn’t. I’m going to try to get a couple of review sets in this month before I reveal the final installment of the Top 20 Best and Worst albums of the year.
Gorgoroth-Under The Sign of Hell 2011
Country: Norway (Bergen)
Label: Regain Records
2011: the year of the rerecorded album. Also the year every black metal band tried to clarify their original intentions with their early material. Now, I don’t ride Gorgoroth’s dick like everyone else does. Infernus is a good songwriter and it sucks that Gaahl and King tried to steal his band from him. But overall, Gorgoroth’s output doesn’t signify the pinnacle of black metal for me like it does for so many other people. Now, there is a few things lacking on this release that the original had, namely a degree of wild intensity. This, I believe, is Tomas Asklund’s fault. Grim was kind of a sloppy drummer but that translated very well for Gorgoroth’s music. Tomas Asklund is an immensely talented drummer and producer, but on this, his drums are high in the mix and perhaps a little bit too tame to accompany this record. Infernus’ guitarwork lacks a lot of it’s original grit, probably the result of Gorgoroth being “metal famous” and actually being able to afford equipment that doesn’t suck terribly and, once again, because of Tomas Asklund’s production prowess. End result: this should have just been a new Gorgoroth record.
Country: France (Paris, Île-de-France)
Label: Mortis Humanae Productions
This is what black metal should sound like: frantic. I know almost nothing about this band other than they apparently haven’t been around for very long, they’re Parisian, and they shred. Black metal plus shred is a risky game, this band does it right. They’re not exactly re-writing the book on this one, but for a freshman release, this is very impressive. I can only wait for more Neptrecus material to see the light of day. Expect to see this band on here in the future.
Nameless Coyote-Devoured by the Swirling Night
Country: USA (San Francisco, CA)
If I was ever in a position where someone who had missed the past 15 years in black metal asked me “so what’s going on in black metal these days?”, I would play them this. I would imagine they would then throw up or stab something. This is, for me anyway, a symbol of everything that has gone hopelessly wrong in black metal: art students from major American cities who insist on trying to cram as many “experimental” elements into this wacky new thing they read about in Vice called “black metal”. The end result is a meandering disaster; a small child playing with his father’s gun, rife with slick production and swells that force the bile into the back of my throat. Bands like this keep popping up, trying to be Burzum meets Sonic Youth, at the expense of the aesthetic (musical or otherwise) that sets black metal apart. It makes me sick. Why can’t hipsters go back to appropriating black culture?
Mordant-Black Evil Master
Country: Sweden (Dals Långed)
Label: To the Death
That’s more like it. This being black metal, and this being a black metal review blog, I feel like I’ve heard this record about 10,000 times. I feel like half the bands that come out either have the chunky death metaly production this record has or no production whatsoever. I typically don’t go for this kind of record except for in certain instances (Dissection). But this is doing well by me at the moment. Mordant is tight, frighteningly tight. From a genre that saw its genesis with bands the first few Venom, Bathory, and Hellhammer records, and that’s stuck tightly to that mold, this is usually a welcomed departure. So, once again, not the most interesting record ever released, but at least it isn’t a bunch of hipsters wearing girls’ pants and hanging out in Brooklyn.
Ride for Revenge-Under the Eye
Country: Finland (Helsinki )
This band almost had me convinced that they were a joke. I mean, come on:
What the hell is happening here? Upon further inspection, I discovered that this record is, in fact, not a joke and is very very very heavy. If I said “very” enough times to adequately express how heavy this record is, the whole review would just be me saying “very”. The guitars and bass blend together into this rumble that sounds a lot like somebody revving a chainsaw over some very lo-fi drum recordings while a Finnish psychopath barks over the cacophony. Needless to say, this record is awesome.
Neige et Noirceur-Hymnes de la Montagne Noire
Country: Canada (Montreal, QC)
Label: Sepulchral Productions
If I had to rank all of the Sepulchral bands that write songs about Québécois history/nationalism, Neige et Noirceur are at the bottom of the list. Granted, that doesn’t mean much as I love most of Sepulchral Productions’ roster. This record isn’t bad at all. I have trouble giving it a fair crack due to it coming out hot on the heels of Crépuscule d’Octobre: I sort of expected more of that. That being said, Neige et Noirceur do a hell of a job at it. The production is pretty sharp, the song-writing complex. This record is much better than La Seigneurie Des Loups which to me seemed to me to be trying to include Québécois folk music a la Forteresse. This came across as awkward as far as I’m concerned. Hymes de la Montagne Noire on the other hand, has an original sound that I can only hope becomes even sharper in the years to come.
Gates to Deathland-PanzerGas
Country: Germany (Bad Tölz, Bavaria)
Label: Self-Released? Maybe?
Okay, this is in no way relevant. PanzerGas came out in August and only ended up on here as a result of the stupid cover art. I came to find that the cover art was not the stupidest thing about this record. The vocals and the song titles were also stupid. So, to recap, everything about this is stupid. Also, this is evidently the one-man side project of a one-man band.What, pray tell, is the fucking point of that? That’s…stupid.
See you next time
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: Amelnakru, Burzum, Enid, Forteresse, Lapgeria Rosea, Typhonic Age, Venom
This is a very special Northern Isolation. Normally, I wouldn’t update again so soon, but the latter half of November saw the release of a few records that most likely garnered some anticipation. I had to take a look and a listen.
Country: Canada (Quebec City, QC)
Label: Sepulchral Productions
This could quite possibly be Forteresse’s breakout record. With “Crépuscule d’Octobre”, what has rather quickly become my favorite black metal band has expanded their repertoire in directions I didn’t expect. One of the first things I noticed about this record was the dramatic increase in production value from their last LP. A lot of the atmospheric fuzz on which Forteresse had relied to create the illusion of vast empty space has disappeared in the mix, a move I was very apprehensive of at first. What puts my mind at ease here is a shift in songwriting that puts a higher value on polyphony, something that was admittedly lacking on their earlier releases. Another added bonus for me is the return of the Quebecois fiddle tune samples at the beginning of two songs on the record, the feature that initially drew me to Forteresse. The band’s proclivity to put Quebecois folk culture on the forefront has become something a number of bands have begun doing as of late, but I will always give Forteresse the credit for being the first, at least to my knowledge, to make Quebecois patriotism and sovereignty a central theme to their music, getting less caught up in “evil” or “Satan” and instead drawing misery from their own tortured history. I couldn’t wait for this record to come out and I’m satisfied to say I was not disappointed.
Typhonic Age-Misanthropic Wrath
Country: USA (Asheville, NC)
This is another case of shitty demo recording and incomplete instrumentation wounding a record. To be fair, this is apparently a relatively new band’s first recording. The songs (there’s only 2.5 of them) are pretty good, if a little generic. I really like the last track a lot, partially because the overdubbing gives the track a little bit of low end. The lack of anything remotely approaching a bass tone is one of the biggest faults of this demo. But again, the operative word there is “demo”. If Typhonic Age got a bass player and a budget, they could be amazing. If I lived in North Carolina, I’d try out to be their bass player; I genuinely do like these songs a lot. Just not how they’re presented. Bummer.
Country: Iraq (Baghdad)
Label: Depressive Illusions Records
What the fuck am I listening to? The novelty of Middle Eastern black metal has now officially worn off entirely. I can only imagine the recording set-up that was used to make this record. It sounds like everything but the bass drum and cymbals were recorded at immense levels, but from down the street. If I listen to this and forget what I’m listening to, it starts to sound cool, simply because the production is piss poor to a degree even raw black metal doesn’t reach. The songs stay firmly in one spot, and even if the songwriting was immensely complicated, we’d never know because it isn’t like anyone call tell what the fuck is going on. The only upside is that the third track has some machine gun fire and some explosions in it which, what with Amelnarku being from Baghdad and all, I can only assume is real.
Burzum-From the Depths of Darkness
Country: Norway (Bø)
Label: Byelobog Productions
I was only 6 when Varg went to jail. Needless to say, I was not listening to black metal at the age of 6. The entire time I’ve been aware of/a fan of black metal, I’ve heard Varg trash his early recordings, expressing his disappointment in them and saying that he had a completely different vision for how the songs were supposed to sound. When Varg got out of jail and started making black metal again, I was pretty sure it was going to be awful. It wasn’t. So when I found out that Varg was rerecording songs from “Burzum”, “Aske” and “Det Som Engang Var” “the way they were supposed to sound”, I was pretty excited. Then it came out and remembered why that line of reasoning never works. I also realized how much I really do love those first few Burzum records, in part because of their imperfections: a young Varg operating without the framework of black metal’s history, shrieking like some kind of wounded animal, playing with terrible equipment. Everything that gave those first few records character has been scrubbed away. Put it this way, if a modern black metal band had released this album as a record of Burzum covers, I’d be happy with it. But that’s not what this is. This is Varg trying to change history. And we all know how much Varg loves to change history. “From the Depths of Darkness” is pale, it’s plastic, it’s completely unnecessary, and it seems like a blatant attempt by Varg to cash in on the renewed attention he claims to disdain.
Country: Germany (Porta Westfalica, North Rhine-Westphalia)
Label: Code666 Records
Enid is very silly. Enid has always been very silly. If you add “with medieval influences” to the end of any genre of music, it will automatically make it silly. However, it’s incredibly refreshing to hear a band not give a fuck about the nameless hordes of black metal assholes (such as myself) who would probably listen to this and hate it just because it’s not grym. And it isn’t, at all. At points, it sounds like synthy Nickleback. I was going to give this a good review until they decided to get all Nickleback on me, actually. Still, this has a certain quality to it that is incredibly palatable yet musically complex. Always a nice thing to see. Definitely not my kind of thing, but it’s not ALL about me. And besides, the record is HILARIOUS!
Lapageria Rosea-En Un Mar de Abstracción
Country: Chile (Puerto Montt)
So, apparently all it takes to be in an experimental black metal band is screaming into a heavily effected microphone over the noisy parts of a Sonic Youth song. Face it, you’re in a No Wave band.
Country: UK (Newcastle, England)
Label: Spinefarm Records
Hey, did you know Venom had a new album out? Neither did I, until this morning. If you think about it, Venom was sort of a failed project, 2 good records and then a sea of crap. I have to admit I had no expectations for this record whatsoever and I only reviewed it because I love slamming these stupid reformed bands that try to remain relevant. To be fair, Venom could have gone in a much more reprehensible direction than they did: they could have tried to turn into a black metal band. Instead, they stayed the course with the scarier side of NWOBHM. The funniest thing is when these old dude metal bands try to incorporate newer metal techniques into their sound as a means of updating their sound, something that actually just makes them seem older and sadder. Basically, every OSD (old, sad, and drunk) metal dude cliche can be found in buckets on this one. It has the nu-metal track, it has the thrash metal track, it’s got something for everyone. Except even nu-metal kids are smarter than this. Most nu-metal bands are better at writing lyrics than Cronos. This is embarrassingly bad, but why would I expect any less from Venom?
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: Agrypnie, Chant of Blasphemy, Falgar, Midnight, Ptahil, Ukivra
2011 is drawing to a close. As I stare blankly into my Chinese food, I can’t help but reflect. Soon it will be Top 10 List season. Til then…
Country: USA (Cleveland, OH)
Label: Hell’s Headbangers Records
Speaking of Top 10 lists, this just made mine. There are a bunch of “black Motorheads” out there these days, but Midnight may be one of the strongest. Of course, if you mix up black metal and Motorhead enough, eventually you just get a crust band, which is sort of right beyond the threshold of where Midnight stands. Still firmly a metal band, they still have not tired of many of heavy metal’s (not necessarily black metal’s) time-honored cliches, like blurred lines between violence and sex, gymnastic fingerwork, endless blasphemies, etc. All of these elements are up front on this record, along with a ton of Lemmy-worship and and healthy dose of latter-era Darkthrone. In terms of pure energy, you cannot go wrong here.
Chant of Blasphemy-Godless Extermination
Country: Germany (Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg)
I give Chant of Blasphemy credit for trying (evidently not when it came to naming the band though). I need to try and avoid the “this doesn’t sound original” argument simply because this is black metal; of course it’s not original. And frankly, this does have it’s own sort of ambiance to it, sort of. Somehow, this record falls flat for me, glorifying all of the stereotypes that have caused so many of the old fogies in black metal to hang up their egregiously spiked armbands. That being said, i will not deny that Chant of Blasphemy are a) very tight and b) very talented. It just isn’t enough for me. If you’re into well-produced black metal by numbers, this record may be for you.
Country: Germany (Groß-Gerau, Hesse)
Label: Supreme Chaos Records
This record didn’t look like a black metal record. The album art looks like someone’s pale attempt at Jacob Bannon-esque printwork. This was a pretty good indicator of what was found inside. I listened to a lot of metalcore in high school and this record is a blast from that past: lots of core, not a lot of black metal. Has plagiarizing Gothenburg been replaced with plagiarizing old black metal records? Am I that out of touch? All I know is that if I close my eyes and listen to this, I can almost convince myself that it’s a Maroon record, at least until the synthy intermission track that sounds like a BlaqAudio song. I guess that’s what makes this a black metal band: synthesizer interjection.
This record is deeply unsettling. There’s something so thoroughly off-kilter on this record, something that makes it feel like, at any moment, everything could come completely undone, prompting Satan to burst through the screen of my laptop and turn my blood into Tenafly Viper. The recording quality is awful. The production is awful. And the end result is something so legitimately frightening it’s almost hard to listen to. The progressions on this record could not possibly have been conceived by a normal mind. I don’t think a black metal has evoked this sincere of a response from me ever. This is utterly bizarre and, by all accounts, brilliant.
Country: Puerto Rico (San Juan)
The line between “raw black metal” and “shit” is not so well-defined. I had high hopes for this record; the only other Puerto Rican black metal band I’d ever heard was pretty good and this record came out today. Unfortunately, it’s a steaming pile of shit. The guitars are out of tune, leading to some unintentional micro-tonal key changes. The attempts at atmospheric clean vocals are shamefully bad. Half of the riffs are lifted directly from Burzum or Bathory songs. I will give this record synthesizer interjections small praise: they’re the high-point of the record. Everything else on here is a travesty.
Ptahil-For His Satanic Majesty’s Glory
Country: USA (Fort Wayne, IN)
Label: Wraith Productions
Picking records to review based on how cool the album cover looks is a dangerous game. I picked this one because the cover had a sort of pan-retro feel: logo straight out of the old Stockholm death metal scene and high contrast art that reminds me of Born Again. I got lucky this time around because this album is tremendous. If you type “black/doom metal” into google, you will find all sorts of silly bullshit. What you won’t find is this record; a record that somehow manages to combine those two genres in an incredibly artful way. I was expecting a sort of slow sludgy black metal record that sounded more like Hate Forest than any doom metal band. Instead what I got is a cross between Hellhammer and Sabbath, if you can imagine that. Don’t imagine it. Go out and buy this record. It’s fucking tremendous.
Coming up next time around: the beginnings of the year-end wrap up. 2011 sucked balls, but a few records worth noting came out/are coming out. Prepare yourself.