Northern Isolation

Supply and Demand

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)
Label: Self-Released
Released: 3/9/2012

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
Released: 3/8/2012

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)
Label: Self-Released
Released: 2/21/2012

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
Released: 3/?/2012

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
Released: 2/24/2012

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
Released: 3/4/2012

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)
Label: Self-Released
Released: 3/13/2012

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.

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