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.



November’s Going Fire
11/30/2011, 10:47 AM
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , , , , , ,

This is a very special Northern Isolation. Normally, I wouldn’t update again so soon, but the latter half of November saw the release of a few records that most likely garnered some anticipation. I had to take a look and a listen.

Forteresse-Crépuscule d’Octobre

Country: Canada (Quebec City, QC)

Label: Sepulchral Productions

Released: 11/22/2011

This could quite possibly be Forteresse’s breakout record. With “Crépuscule d’Octobre”, what has rather quickly become my favorite black metal band has expanded their repertoire in directions I didn’t expect. One of the first things I noticed about this record was the dramatic increase in production value from their last LP. A lot of the atmospheric fuzz on which Forteresse had relied to create the illusion of vast empty space has disappeared in the mix, a move I was very apprehensive of at first. What puts my mind at ease here is a shift in songwriting that puts a higher value on polyphony, something that was admittedly lacking on their earlier releases. Another added bonus for me is the return of the Quebecois fiddle tune samples at the beginning of two songs on the record, the feature that initially drew me to Forteresse. The band’s proclivity to put Quebecois folk culture on the forefront has become something a number of bands have begun doing as of late, but I will always give Forteresse the credit for being the first, at least to my knowledge, to make Quebecois patriotism and sovereignty a central theme to their music, getting less caught up in “evil” or “Satan” and instead drawing misery from their own tortured history. I couldn’t wait for this record to come out and I’m satisfied to say I was not disappointed.

5/5

Typhonic Age-Misanthropic Wrath

Country: USA (Asheville, NC)

Label: Self-Released

Released: 11/20/2011

This is another case of shitty demo recording and incomplete instrumentation wounding a record. To be fair, this is apparently a relatively new band’s first recording. The songs (there’s only 2.5 of them) are pretty good, if a little generic. I really like the last track a lot, partially because the overdubbing gives the track a little bit of low end. The lack of anything remotely approaching a bass tone is one of the biggest faults of this demo. But again, the operative word there is “demo”. If Typhonic Age got a bass player and a budget, they could be amazing. If I lived in North Carolina, I’d try out to be their bass player; I genuinely do like these songs a lot. Just not how they’re presented. Bummer.

3/5

Amelnakru-Monomania

Country: Iraq (Baghdad)

Label: Depressive Illusions Records

Released: 11/24/2011

What the fuck am I listening to? The novelty of Middle Eastern black metal has now officially worn off entirely. I can only imagine the recording set-up that was used to make this record. It sounds like everything but the bass drum and cymbals were recorded at immense levels, but from down the street. If I listen to this and forget what I’m listening to, it starts to sound cool, simply because the production is piss poor to a degree even raw black metal doesn’t reach. The songs stay firmly in one spot, and even if the songwriting was immensely complicated, we’d never know because it isn’t like anyone call tell what the fuck is going on. The only upside is that the third track has some machine gun fire and some explosions in it which, what with Amelnarku being from Baghdad and all, I can only assume is real.

1/5

Burzum-From the Depths of Darkness

Country: Norway (Bø)

Label: Byelobog Productions

Released: 11/25/2011

I was only 6 when Varg went to jail. Needless to say, I was not listening to black metal at the age of 6. The entire time I’ve been aware of/a fan of black metal, I’ve heard Varg trash his early recordings, expressing his disappointment in them and saying that he had a completely different vision for how the songs were supposed to sound. When Varg got out of jail and started making black metal again, I was pretty sure it was going to be awful. It wasn’t. So when I found out that Varg was rerecording songs from “Burzum”, “Aske” and “Det Som Engang Var” “the way they were supposed to sound”, I was pretty excited. Then it came out and remembered why that line of reasoning never works. I also realized how much I really do love those first few Burzum records, in part because of their imperfections: a young Varg operating without the framework of black metal’s history, shrieking like some kind of wounded animal, playing with terrible equipment. Everything that gave those first few records character has been scrubbed away. Put it this way, if a modern black metal band had released this album as a record of Burzum covers, I’d be happy with it. But that’s not what this is. This is Varg trying to change history. And we all know how much Varg loves to change history. “From the Depths of Darkness” is pale, it’s plastic, it’s completely unnecessary, and it seems like a blatant attempt by Varg to cash in on the renewed attention he claims to disdain.

1/5

Enid-Munsalvaesche

Country: Germany (Porta Westfalica, North Rhine-Westphalia)

Label: Code666 Records

Released: 11/28/2011

Enid is very silly. Enid has always been very silly. If you add “with medieval influences” to the end of any genre of music, it will automatically make it silly. However, it’s incredibly refreshing to hear a band not give a fuck about the nameless hordes of black metal assholes (such as myself) who would probably listen to this and hate it just because it’s not grym. And it isn’t, at all. At points, it sounds like synthy Nickleback. I was going to give this a good review until they decided to get all Nickleback on me, actually. Still, this has a certain quality to it that is incredibly palatable yet musically complex. Always a nice thing to see. Definitely not my kind of thing, but it’s not ALL about me. And besides, the record is HILARIOUS!

2/5

Lapageria Rosea-En Un Mar de Abstracción

Country: Chile (Puerto Montt)

Label: Self-Released

Released: 11/23/2011

So, apparently all it takes to be in an experimental black metal band is screaming into a heavily effected microphone over the noisy parts of a Sonic Youth song. Face it, you’re in a No Wave band.

1/5

Venom-Fallen Angels

Country: UK (Newcastle, England)

Label: Spinefarm Records

Released: 11/28/2011

Hey, did you know Venom had a new album out? Neither did I, until this morning. If you think about it, Venom was sort of a failed project, 2 good records and then a sea of crap. I have to admit I had no expectations for this record whatsoever and I only reviewed it because I love slamming these stupid reformed bands that try to remain relevant. To be fair, Venom could have gone in a much more reprehensible direction than they did: they could have tried to turn into a black metal band. Instead, they stayed the course with the scarier side of NWOBHM. The funniest thing is when these old dude metal bands try to incorporate newer metal techniques into their sound as a means of updating their sound, something that actually just makes them seem older and sadder. Basically, every OSD (old, sad, and drunk) metal dude cliche can be found in buckets on this one. It has the nu-metal track, it has the thrash metal track, it’s got something for everyone. Except even nu-metal kids are smarter than this. Most nu-metal bands are better at writing lyrics than Cronos. This is embarrassingly bad, but why would I expect any less from Venom?

1/5