Northern Isolation


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.
5/5

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.
1/5

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.
4/5

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.
3/5

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.
4/5

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.
1/5

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?
4/5

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.



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



Special Hurricane Irene Edition!

This hurricane sucks. I’m bored. Here’s reviews.

Teitanfyre-Morbid Death’s Sceptre

Country: Russia (Pskov)

Label: Ridge of Death

Year: 2011

This is the release I’ve been waiting for. This thing fucking slays. This release is devoid of bells, whistles, or bullshit. Teitanfyre instead relies on straight ahead black metal riffs, tasteful yet destructive drumming, and vocals that for some reason or another remind me of Sakevi from GISM more than anything from the black metal realm. So much of black metal has come to be represented by the extra shit people throw into the mix that records like this have become an endangered specie. Hopefully more bands like Teitanfyre can restore this fading glory and set a higher standard for black metal worldwide.

5/5

Svargaroth-Harvest the Last Souls

Country: Egypt (Cairo)

Label: Self-Released

Year: 2011

The sad thing about this new wave of black metal from the Muslim world is that, no matter how good it is, a lot of people are still just going to look at it as a silly novelty. I mean, they kind of bring it on themselves. Look at the cover of this record. That does not exist in Egypt. Now, I’m in no way qualified to make this statement as this is only the 2nd Middle Eastern black metal record I’ve ever listened to, but musically, there isn’t much worth venerating. On this one, the song writing is pretty solid. The drum machine used on this record sounds fucking awful. Like, I’ve never heard a drum machine sound so horrible in my life. The vocals, not through any fault of the singer himself, sound horrendous. Luckilly, it’s only 3 songs long (and one of them is an intro) so this very novel offering doesn’t last long enough to make you completely insane. Miss.

2/5

Mara-The Underground

Country: USA (Detroit, MI)

Label: Self-Released

Year: 2011

This isn’t a black metal record. I’m not sure what this is. Spooky industrial? There’s moments of very linear guitar/drum music on here, countered by waves of wobbly electronics. There are seconds where it sounds like black metal might happen. In the strict sense of the phrase, it doesn’t. This is kind of like the soundtrack to nightmares I used to have as a little kid about getting left at the grocery store. I am very unenthusiastic about this record. Mara broke up recently. I don’t really care. No more of this.

1/5

Glass Coffin-Laying Waste To The Kingdom of Light

Country: USA (Kentucky)

Label: Self-Released

Year: 2011

As the proprietor of a one-man black metal band, I have something of a soft-spot for others who do the same. This is not an example of this. This is an example of a one-man band I like because the songs hit me in this weird spot that makes me wonder what the hell is going on. J has found this bizarre approach to putting forth old school black metal (think Hellhammer or early Bathory) but with weird little personal effects, like blues scales. It’s also really nice to find a band that isn’t undergoing a severe personality crisis, as most of black metal today seems to be. Glass Coffin knows what works and works with it.

4/5

Dynfari-Dynfari

Country: Iceland (Reykjavík)

Label: Self-Released

Year: 2011

I’ve got to be honest, I’ve never heard a self-released project sound so bombastic in my life. This is the auditory representation of watching a fleet of viking longships coming to rip off your face and the faces of the people you love, then sell the faceless loved ones into slavery. In other words, this is a pretty serious release. And hell, there’s no more appropriate place for black metal to come from than Iceland, if Bathory or Burzum are to be believed. What separates this from the old guard is the Icelandic penchant for droning ambiance, something that is highly visible in their folk music and something that is completely unavoidable in Dynfari.

5/5

Denial of God-The Red Terror

Country: Denmark (Sønderborg)

Label: Horror Records

Year: 2011

Ah, the lost heroes of Danish black metal. The Danes got slighted as black metal grew to international prominence, presumably more comfortable with their rep as home to King Diamond. But the inherently incestuous nature of Scandinavian culture is an enduring one and, while Nortt seems to be the band from Denmark everyone thinks of first, Denial of God are hands down the most enduring and, dare I say, most skillful. Only downside is their very strange sense of aesthetic, which teeters on the realm of King Diamond/Dimmu Borgir (capes, tophats, that kind of shit). This EP certainly doesn’t measure up to their magnus opus, The Horrors of Satan, but for a band that’s been around 20 years and has only released one full-length album, those are some pretty big fucking shoes to fill. That by no means makes this a bad record. Denial of God prove once again that just about everyone in Scandinavia does black metal better than the Norwegians.

4/5

Caruos-Metempsychosis

Country: France (Rouen, Upper Normandy)

Label: Werewolf Promotion

Year: 2011

Before I say a single thing about this band, I have to share a strange thing I noticed while looking up the album info on this one. Check out homeboy on the right.

uhhhhh….

???

You’re tearing me apart, Caruos! Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, the album itself. WHOLE lot of bass noodling on this one. I’m pretty sure black metal isn’t about fretless bass at all. These guys hail from Normandy, leading me to believe at least some of these songs are about Norman folk custom which are pretty fucking bizarre. Aside from all of the weird bass slides and that I can’t stop imagining their drummer in pants/shorts zipper convertibles and playing in front of a shitty picture of the San Francisco skyline, this album is a half decent synth enfused sort-of-folk black metal record. To be honest, there are a lot of records that sound like this that I’d rather listen to.Good if you’re really into folk-black metal.

3/5

Blodsband-Gammelnordiska Besvärjelser

Country: Sweden (Skåne)

Label: Self-Released

Year: 2011

This is one of the most frantic black metal releases I’ve reviewed. Leave it to the Swedes. The vocals are completely out of control. Every track on this record outdoes the one before it. And the wildest thing about all of this, this is the 2nd full-length release Blodsband has released in the past 6 months. I have yet to hear the first one, “Det Eviga och den Döde”, but it’s likely that after hearing this one, I will. I’ll probably review it too. And I’ll probably give it a really good review. Again, one of my top 5 records of 2011, without a doubt.

5/5

Akitsa-Auprès de la Mort, Triomphant!

Country: Canada (Montreal, QC)

Label: None Shall Defy

Year: 2011

Now that Xasthur is dead and gone and Jeff Whitehead is probably going back to jail for beating and raping his girlfriend, Akitsa is kind of leading the way for the wall-of-grim approach the black metal (the best band that doesn’t feature Dominick Fernow, that is). Akitsa deviates from the tradition of unending blast beat and indistinguishable vocals/instrumentation on this release by actually writing a song that are slower than 300 bpm (BLASPHEMY!). The final track is a synthesizer opus which, honestly, I’m getting pretty fucking sick of. We listened to Daudi Baldrs. We don’t need anymore black metal synth jams. Overall, it’s an EP so literally one song could ruin it. 2/3 of this record is pretty good so hey, why not?

3/5

Arckanum/Contamino split

Country: Sweden (Mora/?)

Label: Carnal Records

Year: 2003

One from the vaults. Arckanum has a new record coming out next month so I figured, why not go back and find a random old Arckanum release I’ve never heard and pick at it. This wasn’t a very good release to do that with, but hey, we’re here, might as well go for it. This record came out before Arckanum started being the fastest one-man black metal band on the planet, so you have here a kind of midpoint between Fran Marder and ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ which, in my opinion, are two pretty big milestones. Unfortunately, Arckanum only offers up 1 track on this split. The other 3 are by Contamino, who aren’t the worst band in history, they just sound like every other band in history, but abridged highly. They command a majority of this split and their contribution clocks in at a mere 6 minutes. Not the greatest, I’ll just stick to Arckanum records from now on. Wait, was that just a wookie noise in the closing track? What the fuck is going on here.

3/5