Northern Isolation

From the Graves, Into Other Graves
07/21/2016, 2:40 PM
Filed under: Uncategorized

It’s been a really long time since I updated here. I have no idea if anyone even reads this anymore. Essentially, I have grown deeply tired of the endless stream of shitty black metal releases that get propped up by the false fools that idolize black metal. As different elements of the genre rise and fall in and out of popularity, I realize that to review black metal when I can barely stand to listen to what passes as “black metal” in 2016 is, in and of itself, false. So I am officially and definitively putting Northern Isolation back into the grave, from whence it will never be disinterred.

I have, however, felt a desire to begin reviewing records again. Since my taste have always spanned far beyond simply black metal, this new project will encompass many genres of metal. As Northern Isolation in its later stages reviewed releases from bands on relatively large labels with relatively high budgets, this new endeavor will consist solely of aggressively independent releases. Prepare for a lot of bandcamp and tape releases. I submit to you, the newest chapter in my half-assed attempt at “journalistic integrity”: Chains and Leather.


-I, Warbastard

On Totalitarianism and Bigotry in Black Metal
09/15/2014, 11:14 PM
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“NSBM” has been a tremendous buzzphrase as of late. It would seem that the rest of the world has finally caught wind to the fact that there is an element of the black metal strata that harbor racist and/or fascistic beliefs. Anyone that has read this blog knows that I have never shied away from reviewing NSBM, since I go out of my way to review utter horseshit and most NSBM is, in fact, utter horseshit. But this new firestorm, implicating Inquisition in maybe-maybe not harboring anti-semitic views, has gotten me thinking. I’m going to just flow with this. Hang on tight.

First of all, why are we acting like this is a new development? Black metal band accused of being nazis? Hasn’t practically every black metal band been accused of being nazis? I have personally accused black metal bands of being nazis that weren’t nazis on this very blog. What it boils down to, in my opinion, is often equal parts aesthetic misinterpretation on the judge’s part and an idiotic childish desire to appear fringy by the judged. It is fair to say most black metal musicians would not enjoy living in the Third Reich but what better way to piss everyone off than to voice retroactive support to the Holocaust? You won’t find much in the way of Holocaust denial in black metal because it is a huge aesthetic benefit. Trenches full of corpses makes for a great album cover. In many cases, I think that is as deep as it goes.

In the case of Inquisition, “Crush the Jewish Prophet” is way more ear-catching than “Crush Jesus”. Its heightened capacity for offense is part of the appeal. I never really gave much of a shit about Inquisition (I missed them at Maryland Deathfest because I was on drugs) and their association with Antichrist Kramer is effectively meaningless to me. This raises an infinitely more complicated question: how many degrees of separation are acceptable to distance oneself from racist ideology? If I have a friend who has a friend that is a dyed-in-the-wool racist, does that mean my friendship with that person is tainted? Is it really acceptable to victimize Nachtmystium because they put out one demo 13 years ago on Vinland Winds (especially when there are so many other things to victimize Nachtmystium over)? I don’t have an answer. Maybe there isn’t one distinct answer. But it is certainly worth thinking about.

This is all, of course, not discounting the very real racists that exist within the black metal scene. Admittedly, racists exist within every scene. And the racists that exist within every scene serve largely similar purposes: attract impressionable kids to your cause and convince them to prop up your cause. What they do has nothing to do with individual power. What they do is attempt to widen a flock. It is that sheepish mentality that, in my opinion, puts fascism in direct opposition with the very function of black metal. Which , in turn, exposes vast swathes of the NSBM scene as utter fucking morons or completely full of shit.

I think its important to mention the multitude of recent articles written on the subject that cite Lords of Chaos. Varg Vikernes himself has called into question the journalistic integrity of that book and Michael Moynihan’s hands are awfully fucking dirty when it comes to accusations of fascism. When your band can’t tour Europe without half of the shows successfully getting shut down by ANTIFA, and you respond with internet outrage which brings multitudes of boneheads out of the woodwork to drag knuckles in your defense, you may want to avoid getting too close to the spotlight whereas ultra right wing politics are concerned. Despite being a complete maniac, Varg is very well-spoken and I doubt he would just randomly start going off about nazi UFO’s. On top of that, literally no one outside of a handful of German bigots would have ever heard of Absurd until an entire chapter of Lords of Chaos was dedicated to them. In fact, Hendrik Möbus had’t even become an international fugitive at the time of the first edition’s release. That part of the book was added after the fact. That book, while exposing many people to black metal, exposed them to some of its shittiest aspects. At the same time, it exposed the reader to esoteric Hitlerism, perversions of Jung’s collective unconscious bent to fit a national socialist framework, racialist UFO theology, and loads of complete shit that no one would ever need to know about. It is, at best, a questionable source.

Seriously. No one wants your LARP-y fucking faux-Nordic race war. You aren’t a viking. You arent in the gestapo. You’re a dorky fucking metalhead. We all are. But you don’t wanna sit at the table with us. We do not have to acknowledge you. That being said, a word if caution. Racism or perceived racism gets people riled up in ways that are rarely productive. No such thing as bad publicity works until you start losing gigs behind it. If you are truly a lifer, that is a big fucking deal. If not, you can always latch on to the next thing.

XXXI: From Shallow Graves, Reborn
06/05/2013, 2:44 PM
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , , , , , ,

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
Released: 3.08.2013

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
Released: 5.21.2013

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.

Arckanum-Fenris Kindir

Country: Sweden (Mora)
Label: Season of Mist
Released: 5.10.2013

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
Released: 6.05.2013

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.

Suidakra-Eternal Defiance

Country: Germany (Düsseldorf, North Rhine-Westphalia)
Label: AFM Records
Released: 5.24.2013

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
Released: 5.08.2013

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
Released: 5.27.2013

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.

The Great Rebirth
12/02/2012, 3:21 PM
Filed under: Uncategorized

New computer, new updates soon.

Volune XXX.V: Broken Laptop.
06/27/2012, 6:31 PM
Filed under: Uncategorized

My laptop broke. Until it gets replaced, the coming update is indefinitely paused. Not that anyone gives a fuck, but at least now you know: technology > this blog.

…of Darkness and Evil
05/02/2012, 5:03 PM
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , , , , ,

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)
Label: Propaganda
Released: 3/29/2012

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
Released: 4/10/2012

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
Released: 3/27/2012

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
Released: 3/30/2012

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)
Label: Self-Released
Released: 4/8/2012

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)
Label: Self-Released
Released: 4/2/2012

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.

The Return…
04/10/2012, 3:59 PM
Filed under: Uncategorized