Northern Isolation

North Ash
07/21/2011, 4:12 PM
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , , , , , ,

Another day, another fistful of black metal demo reviews. All relatively new releases this time.

Forteresse-Une Nuit Pour La Patrie

Country: Canada (Quebec)

Label: Spectre Sinistre

Year: 2011

I love Forteresse. The first time I heard “Métal Noir Québécois ” it expanded what I thought was possible with black metal. There are no new songs on this one, which begs the question, why record it at all? These songs sounded good the first time around, not to say they don’t sound good on here. There’s something about “La Moisson de la Liberté” without the folk intro that lacks the comparative brutality that put me on to Forteresse in the first place, but the fierce FLQ-type séparatisme remains firmly in place. As I stated yesterday, I don’t really believe politics has too great a place in black metal, but in this case, it seems to fit perfectly. Of course, given the history of the Habitants, an independent Quebec would probably go the way of a place like North Korea, but that’s not at all what idealism is about. For more information on Quebecois separatism, go here and watch this documentary. Overall, this record is good for someone who is already familiar with Forteresse’s back catalog, not so much for a new listener. I’d suggest listening to their earlier releases instead. Unfortunately, this demo was only limited to 100 copies. Downloading it is probably the only option now, which I do not directly condone, so go find it yourself.


Tukaaria/Volahn split

Country: USA (Southern California)

Label: Crepusculo Negro/Rhinocervs Records

Year: 2011

Back to the world of California black metal, fundamentally ridiculous as ever. That being said, this split punishes the weak and tramples the dead. Tukaaria kicks things off with “Wrought by It’s Creation”, an unrelenting barrage of black metal filth. This split was Tukaaria’s first release, apparently the first of many this year. By late May of this year, they’d released 2 splits and a full-length. Let’s see how many they can release by December. Their name is apparently a Yaqui word for “The Night” which may or not say something about Tukaaria’s subject matter/background. Bleached and Sunburned Reservation Black Metal, I feel, has endless potential. And it’s always nice to hear the bass in a lo-fi black metal split. Then we have Volahn. They’ve recently been making quite a name for themselves as one of the most solid black metal bands kicking around beneath the radar. This split artfully illustrates why. Creative rhythms below shrill guitars, calling to arms legions of undead Aztecs. Or something like that. Volahn is actually one of the few CN bands that don’t sing about Aztecs, so actually, maybe not.


Nicola Tesla-Demo

Country: Russia (Moscow)

Label: Self-Released

Year: 2010

Today on “When Experimentation is Used to Explain Bullshit”, we have Nicola Tesla (note how the band spelled “Nicola” on the album art). The first track sounds more like somebody trying to come up with a bank of riffs to make other songs out of, but with unimpressive electronic noodling in the background, I presume, to create an ominous ambiance, which it doesn’t. But wait, the second track has drums and sounds like an actual song! Oh wait, it isn’t. This doesn’t sound like black metal. To be fair, this doesn’t sound like anything. It sounds like the drummer is trying to do a Pete Sandoval-style one footed double bass roll. It isn’t succeeding. The riff is painfully repetitive, the vocals sound like an angry cat. In fact, the drums are the only half decent thing on this release, emphasis on half. The last song ends with a blues riff. What the fuck have I gotten myself into?


Erragal-Anthems of Isolation

Country: Iraq (Baghdad)

Label: Self Released

Year: 2011

Now THIS is an interesting release. Everyone is all hyped up over Accrasicauda because they were the only heavy metal band in Iraq. Then they moved to Syria and things were bad. Then they moved to Turkey and things were bad. Then they moved to New Jersey and things were worse and now they live in Brooklyn and things are hip. Erragal isn’t really a metal band, but he is a dark ambient artist, meaning he is aware of a thing called black metal and has clearly listened to a lot of it. And guess what? HE STILL LIVES IN BAGHDAD! This sounds like a 4-song funeral dirge for a country we have kept consistently on fire since the Gulf War. This release is tremendously sparse, though not particularly evocative of the desert hell he hails from, more like an ancient Wallachian dungeon, surrounded by the bodies of freshly impaled corpses. I could go the route of “write about what you know, not about what you’ve heard” but in this case, Erragal pulls it off to perfection.


Dragged into Sunlight-OCCII Amsterdam

Country: England (Liverpool)

Label: Self Released

Year: 2011

Dragged into Sunlight is playing Maryland Death Fest next year. I’m super amped about that. If you have no reason to go to MDFX, or if you just haven’t forgiven Morbid Angel yet, go for this. DIS is to me what Anaal Nathrakh failed to be: a black metal band that incorporates elements of grind and doom (and robots) into their sound without compromising the unholy grimness from which they were spawned. “Hatred for Mankind” felt like being crushed by a slow moving train. This is the first (and possibly last) live album I’ve had to review. I hate live albums, across all genres. To me, it feels like “here’s this show you didn’t go to, here’s what you missed about it”. This release doesn’t do that for me. Presented as one continuous track, this album features 3 songs off of “Hatred for Mankind”, all delivered to perfection. This sounds less like a live album and more like a rough demo, which explains why they got signed to Prosthetic Records in the first place (How about a DIS/Withered/Trap Them tour?). My only complaints about this record are itemized as follows:

1) Not nearly as long as it should be. 28 minutes is not enough.

2) Why would someone do 3 lines of coke off a copy of Altered States of America? That MCD is really small. And coke is not the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Agoraphobic Nosebleed. Angel dust is.

Also, thank you to the Dutch audience for being so polite and quiet, making forget this is a live release.


Ash Borer-s/t

Country: USA (Arcata, CA)

Label: Psychic Violence

Year: 2011

Here is a black metal band from California that isn’t on Crepusculo Negro. That has proved disappointing in the past. Unlike Heavy Cross, this band is not undergoing a severe identity crisis. There is no question about this bands very necro intentions. This release falls under the “frenzied whirlwind of blasts and tremolo picking” school of black metal, which means they walk a fine line between being amazing and being Liturgy. Luckily, they haven’t written any essays about the inherent flaws of black metal’s subject matter (that I know of), opting instead to stick with the mainstays of death, suffering, and vacuous isolation, which they convey with astonishing (and well-placed) aplomb. This band embodies an element of black metal that stands in stark contrast to the more traditional European variety of the genre, meaning you won’t find them frolicking in the forests, popping out behind trees or wearing juggalo face paint. This seems to be a common theme among many USBM bands which, I feel, is an important building block towards the North American Black Metal community forging a unique niche within the genre itself. However, Liturgy is not invited.


Some helpful links to put you in the right direction

Tukaaria/Volahn split

Psychic Violence appears to have no more copies of the Ash Borer LP, but they are releasing an Ash Borer discography which, I presume, will have the LP and some demos on it. Get it here.

The rest of the releases reviewed today are pretty obscure and, in some cases hard/impossible to come by. Use your internet detective skills to find them. And if you do end up downloading them, please buy them when you find them.

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