Northern Isolation


Purity
09/19/2011, 3:41 PM
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , , , , ,

Oh hi there! It’s been a little while since I’ve updated this thing. All the shitty demos and endless stream of identical black metal releases made me go a little crazy and I forced myself into a complete black metal blackout to refresh my senses. But I’m back in form now and taking steps to avoid that kind of thing happening again. I started this blog reviewing literally every single thing I could find. Up until recently, it was slightly refined but often still outdated. No longer. These albums being reviewed on here have all been released very recently. At least now this blog can serve a useful purpose.

Arckanum-Helvítismyrkr

Country: Sweden (Mora)

Label: Season of Mist

Release: 9/16/2011

I don’t think Arckanum has ever released a record that has left me disappointed. Over the years, they’ve matured tremendously and this current release sounds worlds apart from even “ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ” and that was only two years ago. That record was a merciless sustained blast beat that killed everything in its path. “Helvítismyrkr” on the other hand, is a poly-rhythmic battleship that, at times, reminded me of some of the darker more metallic bands in the d-beat set (Fellow landsmän Disfear came to mind). But make no mistake, this record does not stray far from Shamaatae’s formula of unrelenting black metal mixed with unrelenting Swedishness (this time, advanced by Shamaatae’s inclusion of traditional Scandinavian violin work). Arckanum does not start disappointing now, 7 full-length albums in to their career. Unfortunately for us Americans, this doesn’t get released Stateside for another 8 days. No physical copies for us just yet.

4/5

Einherjer-Norrøn

Country: Norway (Haugesund)

Label: Indie Recordings

Release: 9/9/2011

This here is Einherjer’s first release since 2003, a year before they broke up. Now, 3 years after they got back together, they’re finally getting around to releasing something and, I have to be honest, this is really not doing it for me. Granted, I have 0 sentimentality about the “golden days” of Einherjer, which always just seemed unbearably corny to me. I guess as things go, my capacity for viking-influenced heavy metal is incredibly narrow, only Windir and Bathory will do for me. There’s something in some of the rhythms on this record that feel a little bit like blackened nu-metal. It’s a very gaudy record, one I could perhaps have done without listening to start to finish. But again, I haven’t really taken the time to dive into the Einherjer back catalog, so maybe there’s just something I’m missing here.

2/5

Taake-Noregs Vaapen

Country: Norway (Bergen)

Label: Dark Essence Records

Release: 9/19/2011

Now here’s a band you can rely on to never change. It blows my mind that Taake’s first full-length came out 12 years ago and it sounds exactly like the new record, as do all the records that came in between. On one hand, it’s a sad testament to a band’s unwillingness to experiment with their formula, wishing instead to release clone records of their earlier material. On the other hand, and the one I find more relevant in the case of Taake, it’s kind of amazing that a band can still retain almost all of its original intensity, 18 years into their career no less. No, these songs aren’t overly interesting, especially if you’ve heard a Taake record before (ANY Taake record) but “Noregs Vaapen”, along with all of their other material, when held up against the output of a great number of their fellow Norwegians, still stands out in terms of raw power.

4/5

Bosse-De-Nage-II

Country: USA (Bay Area, CA)

Label: Flenser

Release: 9/6/2011

Black metal coming from major centers of American cultural development has been making me very nervous as of late. This country is fucking massive and in between California and New York are a bunch of places that are influenced by California and New York, directly or indirectly (unless you live in Chicago). Bosse De Nage are very intense. They share a lot of stylistic similarities to the Cascadian black metal bands that have pretty much come to define American black metal countrywide: trudging pace, harsh cries, no shortage of quiet parts, etc. Again, not a superbly unique record. I’d prefer for the vocals be less of a pitiful cry for help and more of the war shriek of a million ravens. But this is America, it’s 2011, I guess we’re going to have to keep hearing bands fronted by small children lost in the supermarket. All in all, this isn’t the worst record I’ve ever heard, but there are certainly stylistic equivalents that produce with more feeling and without question more individuality.

3/5

GruwelDood-GruwelDood

Country: Netherlands (South Holland)

Label: Self-Released

Release: 9/10/2011

Ok, the Dutch word for “death” is “dood”. Automatic disadvantage. This record starts off with a sample of in-court testimony by Dennis Rader, aka The BTK Killer, which is admittedly, a pretty grim way to start off your album. But then the songs begin. Now, I’m not sure if this record had drums that got 100% washed away because the guitar was too high in the mix or if this is some sort of Impaled Northern Moonforest type joke where a click track serves the purpose of the drums, but this record has almost no noticeable drumming on it at all. There are 2 tracks where drums are even audible and they are some of the most horrendously generic computer drums I think I’ve ever heard and they keep a sort of hilarious oompah quality to them that makes this release 150 times more ridiculous. I really hope this band is a joke because at least then they would have tricked me into reviewing this and I could have a laugh about it later.

1/5

Wolves in the Throne Room-Celestial Lineage

Country: USA (Olympia, WA)

Label: Southern Lord Recordings

Release: 9/13/2011

Ok, I bought into the hype. I was very excited for this release. Wolves in the Throne Room have become a polarizing force in black metal. with most people agreeing that they’re talented, highly referential, and pioneering in what has now become a horrendous atmospheric nightmare. On the other hand, you have the corpsepaint crowd who think this is shit, everything they’ve ever released is shit, and that they are the pinnacle of poserdom. I didn’t go see them in Brooklyn when they played last week because I really REALLY wanted to go to the show in Maine, where Falls of Rauros opened for them. And now, here I am, listening to the new record. Sadly to say, it is lacking. I remember the first time I ever heard Diadem of the 12 Stars, I was in Burlington, VT visiting some friends. I picked up the double vinyl at a record store, went back to my friends’ apartment, and put on “Queen of the Borrowed Light”. It basically shattered my perception of what black metal could be and gave me vast hope for the genre. Now, here I am, 4 years later, listening to the “Celestial Lineage”. I have none of the excitement brewing in my stomach that I had then.  It’s not a bad record, I refuse to say that. It’s keeping with the vein of stylistic development WITTR has been cultivating. It’s heavily atmospheric and is certainly reminiscent of standing in a rocky wooded grove at dusk. But there’s something about this release that lacks the intensity of WITTR’s previous efforts. It’s really a fucking shame. But, they haven’t totally alienated  me yet, I’ll keep hanging on and I’ll keep trying to find brilliance in this new record.

3/5

NEXT TIME ON NORTHERN ISOLATION!

  • Swedish yoga instruction with Murmurs
  • Saligia: Can they save Norway from repeating itself again? Probably not. But we’ll see anyway!
  • Nature and Hate with Stielas Storhett!
  • More fucking Northwestern mopemetal (Blood of the Black Owl)

And some other stuff too probably


1 Comment so far
Leave a comment

I just found your blog through a random google search. Gotta say, I’m happy I did. I’m finding a good deal of bands that passed over my radar. But anyway: I’m glad someone else doesn’t love the new Wolves record. I just find it boring and a re-tread of things they already did. Some bands can do that and I don’t mind, but considering the way they’ve grown (or at least “changed”) with each successive release, Celestial Lineage just feels lazy to me. And way too self-important. Whatevs. Keep up the good work, Ian.

Comment by Rob




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