Northern Isolation


Better Late Than Never, Right?
08/12/2011, 4:45 PM
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , , , ,

3 days late, I’ve ascended from the mire of relentless drinking and a little bit of recording on the other side of town to spew forth a brand spanking new update.

Weapon-From the Devil’s Tomb

Country: Canada (Edmonton, Alberta)

Label: AJNA Offensive

Year: 2010

Black metal is a genre in which one’s surrounding tends to unconsciously influence elements of any project in question. Now, I’ve never been to Alberta and the only thing I know about Edmonton is that they used to have an excellent hockey team. That being said, I have met a few people from Alberta and, without resigning the entire population of the province to this description, every single one of them was pretty…off. If someone told me this record was made by escaped convicts trying to incite total war on the Church of Canada, I’d probably believe them. This record is another building block in the argument that “blackened death metal” isn’t really a thing. It would seem that there are so many concurrent schools of thought in this hybrid that it’s almost a blanket term for black metal records made by people who can actually play their instruments and have more to offer than washed out drums and muddy recording. This rings true on “From the Devil’s Tomb”. This record is finely recorded and executed with razor sharp precision. On top of this, Weapon on “From the Devil’s Tomb” throw in a handful of foreign instruments that broadside the listener, one of the most bizarre being a straight up tabla/sitar raga jam at the beginning of “Sardonyr”. The only unpleasant taste this record leaves in my mouth (other than the ever deepening battery taste of my own blood) is the result of the well-trod path of vehement Dark Ages Satanism that is found throughout this record. Despite that fact that it is the subject matter of most of it’s songs, it’s album cover, the names of the band members, etc., the technical prowess and accomplished song-structure on this record easily wash away any lingering reticence I may have had about this release.

4/5

Phlegein-Ancient Battlegrounds

Country: Finland (Varkaus)

Label: Northern Heritage

Year: 2010

Again, surroundings influencing bands, but this time on a cultural level and this time to the detriment of the band at hand. Phlegein come from Finland a country that has for centuries found itself at the mercy of it’s neighbors, primarily it’s Ikea-and-herring-loving neighbors to the west. When you look at the long history of Swedish dominance/influence over Finland, it should come as no surprise that in the often socio-politically telling world of black metal, these same ties echo among the trees of Suomi. In spite of this, Finland has successfully created it’s own unique sound, created by Beherit and propagated by most of the bands in the country. Phlegein do not follow this template. Phlegein appear to share more with a band like Marduk than they do a band like Sargeist. Now, to be perfectly fair, Phlegein play the part very well. A Finnish 2-piece that sings into a hairbrush in the mirror to the final Armagedda record in their bedrooms. This is one of those bands that has the potential to blaze a trail upon which none of tread before. The songs themselves are rather good. The problem is I feel like I’ve heard this record 500 times and, to be honest, I’m kind of sick of the Swedish version too.

2/5

Necronoclast-Ashes

Country: UK (Scotland)

Label: Moribund Cult

Year: 2011

I’m not sure if this is a drum-machine project or if Necronoclast has a drummer or both or what. There are times on this album where the drums sound more like a helicopter than drums. The thing that makes me think that this is a drum machine is that any drummer trying to keep that double bass roll going for that long and that fast would probably pass out. These wild stabs in the dark about the integrity of the drumming on this record are totally irrelevant because this record is amazing (though with kind of awful album art). “Ravenous” is the black metal summer jam of 2011 and if I go to the beach at any point during the remainder of the year, I will almost certainly play it on a boombox, ideally creating the weirdest beach party ever. Haunting, repetitive riffs drop suddenly into a vast abyss of blasting verse, culminating in a trudging dirge. 2011 will not be remembered as a year of awesome black metal records, but it could be.

4/5

Woe-Quietly, Undramatically

Country: USA (Philadelphia, PA)

Label: Candlelight Records

Year: 2010

Woe is at the center of a blizzard of hype. Granted, they are a Philadelphia heavy metal supergroup (bass from Rumpelstiltskin Grinder, drums from Infernal Stronghold) with Chris Grigg from Krieg at the reigns. But wait a second, this bands main man is the drummer from Kreig? Of all the people who passed through that band why the fuck do I give a shit about the drummer’s solo record? I’m not sure, but this record does not rise to meet the hype. Ok, yes, it’s certainly not the worst recording in the world and yes, the drums on it are outstanding, but isn’t that more of a tribute to how fucking awesome Infernal Stronghold is (especially considering that the past few Infernal Stronghold records have been fucking amazing and this is just very meh)? Aside from the skillful drumming, this record sounds like it could have very powerful vocals which the listener watches drown in a sea of boring riffs. If this record had a better producer, it would have it’s redemption. Given the new black metal fad of rerecording all of your early material, we may yet see that. Til then, I’ll just keep listening to the same Judas Iscariot album over and over again and waiting for Akhenaten to release something new.

3/5

Adramalech-Adramalech III

Country: Georgia (Tblisi)

Label: Self-Released

Year: 2011

This record is a miserable fucking trainwreck and should be avoided by everybody with ears, common sense, or both.

0/5

Negative Plane-Stained Glass Revelations

Country: USA (New York)

Label: AJNA Offensive

Year: 2011

Considering my contact at Skateboard Marketing has so far steered me in fruitful directions, I once again review one of his suggestions. And once again, the suggestion was solid. I cannot even begin to explain the kind of sound Negative Plane makes. In some way or another, they remind me of every single band that came before them, often outside of the metal genre. The choice to effect the living hell out of the guitars here was a very interesting move, making this record sound like it was recorded in some sort of medieval cathedral amongst the burning candles found on the cover of this record. The record goes from lilting to punishing in a millisecond and is easily in my top 5 records of 2011. Let’s see what can even try to stand up to it.

5/5


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