Relapse Records, 28.10.16
It can be difficult to catch everything, even when you're fully aware of each individual release. There are a number of
renowned bands that have released albums I haven't had time or opportunity to cover this year, and there are some who
have earned a well deserved reputation without me having caught up with them.
A band of the last type is New Zealand's Ulcerate.
The band managed to release three albums before I could get on the carousel with the previous album, Vermis 2013.
With Shrines of Paralysis, Ulcerate means business in attempting to paralyse the listener.
Their dissonant death metal earns the tag technical, although the expression is far from playful. The hallucinatory dystopia
this band delivers is admittedly an astonishing coherent execution, that borders on calculated, but it's far from sterile.
The performance feels organic and full of soul. That the soul is sickly, scarred and touch on sociopathic is another matter.
We're talking muddy and ethereal death metal in one and the same package here. The band conjures up hell-visions with
dreamy nightmare moods alternating impressive in rhythm and speed. The acceleration from calm and soaring with jazzy
rhythms and eclectic dark moods, to full throttle, pedal to the metal, or the transitions in the opposite direction,
happens in the blink of an eye.
Those who know Ulcerate, know what they're in for. Those who don't know them, may think of a more
anxiety-generating version of Gorguts. Shrines of Paralysis pose no major surprises, but rather more of the same claustrophobic,
futuristic sci-fi spirit. The future is mechanical and barren. Fortunately, the music is dynamic. (Although the sonic
dynamics are low.)
The Kiwis offers almost an hour of hypnotic music. Just close your eyes and dive in.
Godz Ov War Productions, 30.10.16
What you've got in store from these beastly Poles can almost be read in the title of their third album. Much like Burial
Hordes, a few notches further down the page, this band has a whiff of sulphur and a layer of black crematory ash swirling
as road dust when the trio goes full throttle.
When the band calms down in occult, satanic and evil moods, the soot settles again, making discoloured cobwebs reappear.
If the description sounds familiar, it's because metal like this is dropped daily. Compared with everything else,
Sepulchral Psalms from the Abyss of Torment will probably be reduced to just one in the crowd, but isolated, this
is more than sturdy enough, and fans will most likely not be disappointed. We've certainly heard better, but hell knows we've
heard far worse too.
There are sequences where the band repeats ordinary riffing, backed by occasional staccato rhythms, and the album is thus
not utterly delightful. But there are also a lot of goodies to sink your teeth into. The vocals are insanely rabid, and the
recitation sacrilegious. The pace is often fast and driving, with hectic riffing and a blazing solo now and then.
The band is nevertheless best when they hit the brakes and embark on an undertow of evil spirits. In mid-tempo,
Kingdom deliver an empirical majestic sphere of anxiety-inducing proportions suitable to scare your local parish
senseless. The opening track Sepulchlar Psalms and the only song with Polish title and lyrics,
Kaplica Ducha Zgnilego, is thus left standing as extremely evocative favourites.
Powerful sound ensures frenzied atmosphere in a flattering murky sound. I am painfully aware that Kingdom
won't leave a lasting impact with this album, but judged on its own merit, it deserves a somewhat weak approval. I enjoy
it while it lasts, but you'll have to listen and decide for yourself just how important
you consider uniqueness to be.
Eisenwald Tonschmiede, 28.10.16
Besides two demos, the Dutchmen of Fluisteraars have delivered two alright, but far from ground-breaking
or particularly distinctive albums. A year after Luwte, and almost three years after Dromers, the
trio presents a two-song EP on just under ten minutes.
I have previously accused the band of a bit excessive monotonous post-atmosphere. Gratifyingly, the two relatively short
songs on Gelderland contain more variety than the band's often much longer compositions. I'll give'em
credit for that.
Zijsselt opens with semi-black riffs and hasty pace before the guitar kick off other melody lines. The
more groovy mid-tempo that gradually take over sounds slightly black'n'roll, before the pace dives into the basement.
The song does have its' shoegaze-touch, but the variety and its' rocked expression gives more Sarke-vibes in this respect.
Stuk begins with fairly intense and straightforward riffing that is soon visited by melody lines more
in keeping with Windir. Closer to the middle of the song, the electric guitar fade out and subdued acoustic
strumming appears. After a dramatic pause in the middle of the song, the rest of Stuk consist of pretty
decent discouraged moods of despair, with vocals that screams out in pain and agony.
Fluisteraars are once again reasonably alright, without distinguish themselves too much, but the
improvement in musical diversity on Gelderland should certainly not go unnoticed. Credit where credit
is due. The EP is absolutely satisfactory, although it is hard to recommend two single songs to anyone but existing fans.
Finisterian Dead End, 28.10.16
Ten years ago, Abduction took form, inspired by Dissection, Primordial
and French black metal.
The plague doctors convey a schizophrenic alternating style, which fluctuate between soothing moods of forest clad
sceneries and sharp explosive intensity.
After an EP released in 2010, this is their first album, and a very successful one as such.
Une Ombre Régit Les Ombres is a manic depressive album, unless it's suffering from dissociative identity
disorder (aka multiple/split personality). The intro L'horloge is quiet and subdued, with a touch of
melancholy, giving mild associations of... quiet Windir? When Nepthalia takes over, it's like a
bolt of lightning from a clear sky. The roaring thunder seems absent,though. This is a sharp storm with howling winds and
freezing downpour. The percussion whips like a hailstorm against the window and guitars rips gashes in the dark sky.
The flash of lightning spreads its crooked fingers as cracks in glass and for a while it burns onto the retina, like a
TV channel logo on an old plasma screen.
Than the winds dies out and black clouds sail aside. Behind lies lighter, but still grey clouds, and the temperature
is still not alluring. It's the calm before the storm when electric guitars acts as acoustic instrumentation like an
electric, cold, dripping wet, sorrowful and hostile dismissive version of Empyrium. Than it kicks off again,
with hateful utterances that claws furrows in throat and ear canal like a sonic barbed wire. With razors as guitar pick,
the music foams while lancinating pains drown in primitive disgust. With a certainty that the end is near, now I'm
bleeding to death in the midst of the autumn-storm, the melancholy takes new forms. Atmospheric, whimpering cries for
compassion and mercy doesn't reach far before they too gets lost in the howling Arctic winds. Who ever would hear the
quiet crying and moaning between cliffs, mountains and hills in the uninhabited wilderness anyway?
Through five songs stretching from 8 to 13 minutes, the listens is being reduced to a helpless shuttlecock between rage
and reconciliation due to Abduction's insane mood swings. Like the flashing lightning, this is a hefty
but not harmless sight. The adventure is still worth the hazards. Even if Une Ombre Régit Les Ombres
isn't a typical album that adheres readily to mind, it's to a greater degree a record that delivers an unpredictable
experience every time, and a record that sucks you into an ominous, hypnotic universe and keeps you trapped in the
basement for 54 minutes.
Therefore such a strong grading.
Folter Records, 28.10.16
Greek Burial Hordes' 15 year long history has passed beneath my radar. Or so I thought. It would, however,
turn out that I had heard and even written about their previous album, Incendium (in Norwegian) back in
2014. Two of the band's three former albums have been released via Pulverized Records and Hellthrasher
The band has changed somewhat since the last time, but not very much. Slightly sluggisher. Slightly heavier.
I somewhat erroneous defined the style as black metal back then. The death metal the Greeks reels of is certainly
dripping with black furore, but the safest branding is probably black/death. Slow as syrup. Doomy as doomsday. But
make no mistake, lethargic doesn't mean lack of energy this time around.
The four songs presented here uses 19 minutes to maim the listener and put the world to ruin. The music thunders. The
vocalist's voice resounds from the abyss. Moods are hostile, but not threatening, for there are no threats or warnings,
only unannounced blind violence. Destructive and devastating. The positive aspect of all this negativity is that these
conditions are the best spawning place for delightful explosive musical disgust.
I enjoy Extinction more than Incendium but I'll nevertheless keep it brief.
You might as well just set aside 19 minutes to become overridden by the EP's four hard-hitting arguments.
Death Shrine Offerings, 26.10.16
Circumstances may have quite a bit to say when forming an impression of music. The Finnish one-man band Horizon Of
The Mute reel of his funeral doom so syrups-slow and monotonous that it feels like getting glued to the pavement
while time gradually slows down to a standstill.
I enjoyed the EP Horizon of the Mute, which I mistook for a full-length debut half a year ago. When attempting to listen to
the actual debut Trobar Clus an early morning, however, it felt like an everlasting protracted affair.
The band consists of Jani Koskela from 0 X í S T, who sadly announced they'd broken up early this year. On
Trobar Clus, it doesn't feel as if Jani incorporates quite as many psychedelic
effects as on the EP. The music is in a way more focused or streamlined, but it also requires more from the listener. At
least to begin with. The very first spin might not glide down without friction no matter what circumstances you try under,
but when body and mind is a bit tired and worn out at dusk, at least I tend to be more receptive.
As the album gets to unfold time and again, more details naturally appear. Details that must have tagged along later, for
I could swear they weren't there to begin with.
The two middle songs, of four in all, clock in at over nine minutes each, while the two outermost tracks exceed 12. There
are many nuances that create variety, but it requires peace of mind. Whoever vigilantly await the next move in restlessness,
will quickly lose patience.
Everything is dark, rumbling and gloomy, as if the very bedrock got a depressive identity crisis and quivered under its own
weight. The reverberating resonance provide certain associations to Faustcoven, while the use of Hammond organ(?)
in Above Deep Waters can be reminiscent of the use of accordion on Monolithe's II. There
are similarities in the timbre and vibrato of the two instruments that can be somewhat confusingly. Droning and roaring
noises comes and goes in slow motion. Alien rhythmic sounds take the role of percussion. Rather than trying to identify the
many different ingredients in the steaming cauldron, I leave the exploration of details in Trobar Clus'
labyrinths to the listener. Many familiar instruments make a brief visit, and many mysterious guests comes by. I can, however
reveal that conventional drums don't exist in this universe. They must have been there to begin with, before having been
eradicated via telepathy, for I actually didn't notice this until about the fourth spin.
The atmosphere is thick as smog, but is difficult to pinpoint. Does it come from the netherworld, or is it otherworldly?
With all sorts of strange noises, it does at least inherit a fairly industrial feel.
I am unsure whether the album is fully on par with the EP, but it's at least not more inferior than achieving the
same grading. Trobar Clus was released digitally via Horizon Of The Mute, while Death
Shrine Offerings, which is also run by Jani, takes care of the CD sales.
Black Lodge, 28.10.16
Swedish Netherbird was an unfamiliar name to me until they released their third album, The
Ferocious Tides Of Fate after nearly ten active years. Considering their seemingly anonymous existence, the album
was a very positive surprise. The music consisted of a highly professional hybrid of evocative, melodic black/death with
When the fourth album is finally released, the band has slowed down the pace and rupturing punch a few notches, and put
greater emphasis on moods.
That's not to say that Netherbird have waned and faded in any way, for The Grander Voyage
is a grandiose affair! The music is airier, the melodies (feels) stronger and they weave in an epic atmosphere of salty sea
spray. The performance is more doomy but stalwart and rancid elements of melodic black metal prevents the album from slipping
into the quietest folk musical waters. The music is this time floating between instinctive inclination toward the wilderness
and an adventurous sea voyage, that approaches pagan viking metal.
The base in Netherbird is related to Dissection, with traces of Amon Amarth, while doomy
pagan tendencies gives similarities with a rich arsenal of references, like Thyrfing, Black Sun Aeon,
Einherjer and Falkenbach. Compared with acts of such prestigious fame, one would think that
Netherbird came up short, but not this time. The songs are dynamic and varied, with mournful piano or violins and
rural acoustic strumming every now and then, and strong harsh and briny moods of warriors with stoic guttural vocals in the
next moment. The band members' merits can't alone explain what makes this band so qualified to take up the fight, even though
some members have had a finger in the pie of Mist of Misery and Valkyrja. The band seems to have found a
new drummer since Fjellström (Dark Funeral, The Wretched End) left, but in the mean time,
Fredrik Widigs (Marduk, Nordjevel) have filled in on The Grander Voyage.
The sound is crisp and rich, with abundant fullness and punch. The veteran Sverker Widgren has once more mastered
Netherbird's work in his Wing Studios. The cover is adorned with partly the same colour range as
last time, but I doubt that the Swedish landscape painter Marcus Larson (1825-1864) have inked this somewhat more morbid
If Netherbird remains as unknown as I suspect and fear, it is about damned time the Swedes receive their
ultimate breakthrough. The Grander Voyage should vouch for the status the band deserves, for the quality
is impeccable in every aspect. The 42 minutes that the album lasts, passes in a flash, and I'm left impressed with a
seemingly unquenchable lust for more. Fantastic!
The Grander Voyage and loads of other goodies from the band's rich discography on Bandcamp.
Blood Harvest, 24.10.16
Irish Zealot Cult's first EP was released independently earlier this year, but has now been etched into the
grooves on 12" vinyl.
Self-released debut EPs are comparable with demos, and the opening riff only increased my scepticism. The release is presented
as “a blast from the past and a detonation of the present”, which my critical mind quickly translates into typical contemporary
Sure, the Irish whips the same dying horse, but the stallion ain't entirely dead. It seemingly got eternal life.
Zealot Cult deserve a little bit of honour for contributing some of the concentrated feeds that keeps
the mare alive. The band namely doesn't just engage in rehashing of vintage extremity. They incorporate just enough
distinctive spices to keep the thrill alive. The quality, or rather the amount of singular character, varies, but I end
up on good in average.
Besides ominous guitar solo that ends with classy but oh so short stereo effect, soon followed by another quick and succinct
mini-solo, the opening and title track becomes a bit too generically intense Obituary/Entombed worship.
The song is good, but the expression is in excess recognizable. Eternal Winter brings a little more airy riffing than the compact predecessor, and the sepulchral vocals
come better to its own. The riffing doesn't vary much, but nevertheless more, and it also offers some atypical strokes. Even
here, there's some solo guitar works I'd love to heard more of.
After a gliding transition into Suffocation of the Mind, the band shows itself from its most diverse and
potent side by making use of staggering dissonant guitar and vocal “harmonies”. With the longest song of the EP, the band
display that they're very much able to think new and give the genre a fresh innovative injection of manic delusions.
The rough vocals sound troubled and horrified as outlandish voices begins to whispering schizophrenic heinous stanzas in
the ears, like unruly voices in the head, and the music is just as delirious.
The first two songs are certainly good, but oh so conventional, while the brilliant conclusion shows a solid potential,
which I of course hope the band pursues in a tireless fashion. Zealot Cult are working on their first full-length. Meanwhile, check out
I Hate Records, 24.10.16
4.5 minutes is the time it takes before the metal aspect in the first of two 20 minutes long songs initiate. Zaum hails from Canada according to the press release, but I lean more towards the theory that
this is a recording of an unknown tribe deep in the impenetrable Amazon jungle. The band exploits the opportunities
funeral doom possesses considering amalgamation with other genres.
Behind the colourful cover art, we find a duo with three years of experience and a previous album to show for. The debut
Oracles was reportedly well received in summer 2014, but this is nevertheless my first encounter with them.
Earlier on, Monolithe and Luna has taken advantage of said opportunities to visited cosmos or incorporate symphonic
elements. Zaum utilize sitar, cello, violin, a lot of different flutes, woodwind instruments, textures
of synth and musical saw(!) To create calm, doomy native South-American Indian-harmony with nature. The only thing that
isn't used is guitar, as the bass takes the job of creating roaring distortion. The expression is probably a little too
frivolous to be defined as funeral doom, but besides harmonic resonance and coexistence on the astral and physical plan,
the pace, progress and song length is in keeping with the genre. The sound of all these elements is unfortunately stirred
all too much into a single droning chant.
They use sacral vocal and chanted mantras with jungle noises and flutes to create a subdued atmosphere of jungle and
meditative spiritual rites. The idea isn't dumb. However, what is a bit dumb is that the music becomes more than monotonous.
Zaum incorporates far too little content and diversity to exploit the potential of the concept to its
fullest. At its best, Eidolon is a rather scenic report from distant regions and yesteryears. At its dullest,
preciously little happens. Repetitions goes in loop, and the result is unfortunately not very exciting and eventful.
The band does hovever deserve a pat on the back for thinking outside the box.
Listen and see if a Eidolon's rainforest has a different effect on you.
Prosthetic Records, 07.10.16
No medal to the first ones that guess technical death metal after having glanced at the cover. Or so I thought. Still, the
music of this American ensemble surprised me. Positively, I might add. The initiated will understand why, other ignorant
fools, like myself, could do well with a little explanation.
The band was formed as much as 34 years ago and is acclaimed in certain metallic circles. The activity has however been variable.
The band debuted with Energetic Disassembly in 1985, of many hailed as the first jazz-inspired prog-metal
album. From what I can see, it's still sophomore Control and Resistance from 1989 that's been left standing
as the Texas band's magnum opus and source of inspiration for many within technical and progressive metal.
After a hiatus from 1990 to 1999, the band returned, but new music in the form of more than singles has been long in coming.
In 2010, WatchTower released the single The Size of Matter, and last year three new single songs were
released digitally. These four are now, along with a brand new song, collected under the title Concepts of Math: Book One.
The music indeed have a lot in common with tech-death, but this is technical thrash, that also has a stronger progressive
aspect, and plenty of melody. The structure is wonderfully schizophrenic with vital and psychotic rhythms and a thousand small
melody-acrobatics that come and go with precision as mathematical sequences in an over-clocked octa-core 64-bit processor.
The bass of Arguments Against Design makes me think of Primus, but the vocal lines in turn at times
makes me think of Anthrax around Among the Living. The band has clear vibes of the 80s intact, while providing
technical components that seems to stem from the future. Meanwhile, the sound is upgraded and updated according to etiquette.
The band's signature is distinctive, although WatchTower has to compete with their own followers by now.
The EP concludes with ten minutes long Mathematica Calculis, a new track composed for the occasion. This
journey in Newton, Archimedes and Pythagoras' complex world of science occupy approximately ⅓ of the EP's ½
hour duration. I really ain't no authority on tech/prog, but this was a pleasant and quaint experience. Zealots of such genre
hybrids should of course check out Concepts Of Math: Book One. Hear the opening song
M-Theory Overture and a teaser of Mathematica Calculis while you're at it.
KaosKvlt Records, 21.10.16
It's closing in on 20 years since Anata's classic debut was released via Season Of Mist. Of
course I have nothing new to add, that existing fans don't already know by heart. I frequently avoid re-releases, but
sometimes it's nice to revisit an old acquaintance, and there's always someone who for some reason haven't discovered
any given album.
Therefore, a brief review of The Infernal Depths of Hatred, now released via Kaotoxin Records'
Anata went for a cake-and-eat-it approach, devouring both worlds as brutality and melody meet halfway
without necessarily making any compromise. Much like a conciliatory missing link between the two branches of death metal.
And it doesn't stop there. Black metal was also represented by means of fiery vocals and some sneak-blackificated
elements in riffs and feel. With clever structures, loads of variety and transitions, the band also incorporated traces
of technicality with influences from progressive directions.
The album, as connoisseurs know, is full of lively, extreme, melodic intricate and spellbinding death metal in constant
motion. The sound may take a song or two to get used to, but when it's seated, it's seated. Not polished, but not dirty
either. A good middle ground here as well. The re-release is specially remastered for analogue formats by Frédéric
Motte in Conkrere Studio. The digital copy I received didn't have a particularly high dynamic range to
boast about, but the condition may very well be a whole different thing on the LP.
Not as calculated as typical tech-death, not as widely available as melo-death, and not as ordinary as conventional
death metal, and a cover of Morbid Angel's Day of Suffering from Blessed Are the Sick
(1991) is tossed in on the bargain. Anata released three more albums in the 2000s. The until now last one was released ten years ago. A
new album is finally taking shape. They're practically just awaiting the resolving of the final agreements to check out.
The French duo Penitence Onirique wishes to offer an escape from reality via esoteric black metal. It's
a nice thought, and I appreciate the offer. My impression is still somewhat ambivalent. However, it improves gradually.
The Frenchmen creates dreamy moods by mixing an atmospheric approach with black furore and tristesse. The process gives
rise to comparisons with the musical half brother, the deranged ambassadors of discouragement; the eastern Canadians.
The Quebec scene often garb their hovering, near spectral flights with sharpened furore and necrotic façade. On
V.I.T.R.I.O.L, the latter is lacking a bit too much, and the atmospheric elements make a coup d'état. The strings
are wrapped in cotton, the music wraps itself as a blanket around the listener, and attempts to force-feed him or her
antidepressants via five songs of almost ten minutes each. The blanket might be a bit itching and scratching, though, as
if sticking you slightly with pins and needles
The satanic minority rebels. They hammer and yell without getting sufficient penetration in the defences of the occupying
forces. But even if the knife-bearing dark men fail to achieve the biggest breakthrough, the defeat is still not crushing.
Adrenalin and fighting spirit leaves its mark after all.
The song material is not of the memorable kind. The music felt fairly anonymous and vaguely generic to begin with. The
rounded sound didn't contribute to improving the impression. When the moods finally penetrates the pores and stuns my
mind, I nevertheless become hypnotized. After L'âme sur les pavés, a first song with more than enough
reverberation, Le soufre becomes in excess resounding, tainted with a strong upper midrange and treble.
If it's perceived as too much, I recommend starting with the third song Le sel, which ain't quite as
full of ringing timbre.
Once you first get into V.I.T.R.I.O.L's chiming sphere, a nifty universe lights up, revealing a majestic
Penitence Onirique's atmospheric black metal contains post-metallic monotony, wistful melancholy, sharp
bitterness and hypnotic suggestion. Nothing ground-breaking, but still reasonably good. Their sound could admittedly have
been somewhat darker, but the dreamy, ethereal moods are gloomy, while aggressive rhythms and enraged vocals prevents
soporific repetitiveness. There might be weighty objective arguments against V.I.T.R.I.O.L, but I put
more emphasis on this subjective aspect; I like the album. I guess it boils down to what your taste buds and guts tell you,
but give it a chance to grow if you decide to give it a shot.
Relapse Records, 21.10.16 Ten Thousand Ways To Die is basically a two-song single from the veterans in
Obituary, but in quantity, the bonus material draws the longest straw.
They namely incorporate 12 live recordings from their Inked In Blood world tour.
The likes of generous bonus package, I think you'd come short trying to find on any other single.
Loathe is the name of the first new song, a fairly slow and groovy piece on six minutes that tastes good,
although it doesn't leave deep traces in their discography. Subsequent Ten Thousand Ways to Die only has
half the duration, but it'll do plenty. The pace is increased somewhat, but it's not doubled, as the band again delivers
concrete riffs with suppressed melodies in the back. The guys deliver the goods and concludes with 40 seconds of fresh
The band's sound engineer, Joe Cincotta from Full Force Studio was fully equipped with recording
equipment on said tour. Something the band knew to take advantage of. Having made recordings of each concert, twelve
songs were selected from eleven different venues, and put together to a bonus package that is more like a live
compilation than an ordinary live album. The sound is reportedly not edited and polished in retrospect, and it does
also sounds pretty raw and live. Among the material, we find a surprising amount of material from the first two albums,
Slowly We Rot (1989) and Cause of Death (1990). The tour took place in the states,
besides a short drop by in Toronto, and the band has just embarked on the roads of Europe.
Obligatory Obituary? No, but fun anyway.
The next album is scheduled for release next spring. That one is hopefully mandatory.
Check out Ten Thousand Ways To Die.
Non Serviam Records, 21.10.16
Singles anno 2016 are typically released as previews on YouTube, often with a lyric video, or at best a proper music
video. Physical single releases with the aim of creating expectations months before the release date, belongs to a
bygone era, and this is thus a digital single.
Brace yourself for men in white coats who enclothe you in a straitjacket and force you
back to Zornheym - the asylum for the criminally insane, with the second
single from the upcoming Where Hatred dwellers, And Darkness Reign.
A Silent God is part of a larger concept, where the asylum and the inmates' gruesome past haunts
them all. The first single, The Opposed was presented nine weeks ago.
Epic black stroke anew meets symphonic touches from Dies Iona Ensemble to a swirling bizarre waltz, and I could
swear I saw hooves among the febrile feet flying across the dance floor in a brief flash. The song has powerful sound,
creating a hypnotic spell that captivates and whet your appetite further for the Swedes debut.
I'll be brief and apply a new doze of patience. Enjoy A Silent God.
Signal Rex, 07.10.16&Hellthrasher Productions, 21.10.16
A quick peek at song titles as Hræ Guðs Fargað and Óhugnaðurinn quickly brings a
suspicion that we're off to Iceland. I can confirm the suspicion.
In the wake of kaleidoscopic Vikings who most deservedly have been globally hailed by black metal fans, all sorts
of offshoots begins popping up like weeds. I fear that these wannabees will spread on the saga island just as rabbits
once subjugated Australia under their small hare paws. At least rabbit's feet brings luck.
Some are good, but many are mediocre or outright shitty. I shall not throw any final judgement over Endalok
before they've released at least one album. The demo Englaryk ain't terrible, and the
prologue is thus in excess crass, and rather uncalled-for. The demo in any case doesn't leaves me very impressed.
After a minute of ethereal nightmare sounds, about 16 minutes of the dystopically dreamy jaunt remains. The music
seeks to conjure up unpleasant moods through disharmonious sound collages and succeed partially. The sound isn't
studio-processed naturally. After all, this is just a demo, but it is resounding enough to scratch you to blood with
an uncut, unpolished underground claw. When the music eventually fence in the listener, fans will most likely thrive
okay, but the vast majority of sound minds will nevertheless agree that we've heard better.
As a demo this is promising, but as a release put up for sale in a competitive market, this is only a moderately good
product. The digital price is however agreeable, you can actually negotiate on Englaryk.
Inverse Records, 21.10.16
Finnish Shadecrown was conceived in 2012, and dropped both demo and EP the following year.
My first encounter with them is this full-length.
It begins pretty decent, and the music possesses reasonably good quality, but certain undesirable elements have a
tendency to pop up time and again, and ruin some of the dismal fun.
The music alternates between gothic and somewhat proggy melodeath with a touch of death/doom and a dominant modernist
touch. Sure, everyone knows that the word “modern” is not a good and time-resistant adjective in a metal review, but
everyone nevertheless realise what it means. Contrived extreme vocals, partly cutesy clean vocals, pretentious djent
rhythms, sobby or syrupy melodic choruses et al.
At its best, this is rather good shit. The album starts very good with Eremophobia, but many of the
subsequent tracks are injured by said unfortunate ingredients. Admittedly, most songs have good sequences, but when
parts of a song are corrupted, the totality will suffer. Longing for Sleep, the albums sixth track
out of the ten, is the next one that's downright nice and well-structured without a plethora of newfangled whims.
The rest of the album alternates between good melodies and moods, and hipster-ingredients tainting the expression
slightly. The last two songs, Silent Hours and Drown also contains a lot of good
melodic Finnish melancholy.
It may very well be that fans of Finnish melodeath will come to embrace Agonia, but for me there's
simply a little too much rhythmic abomination and the likes that scare me away approximately the way garlic supposedly
keeps vampires at bay. Crosses has the same effect on both parties, but that's a whole different story.
Iron Bonehead, 21.10.16
Oddly enough, I tend to be drawn toward music I actually enjoy listening to. Since I don't have time to review everything,
I easily end up prioritizing the goodies, and turn a deaf ear to the rest. Drops in the ocean has no identity, and
leaves me dispirited. Verberis may not be quite that hopeless. They have a lot of potential,
but with Vexamen, it remains relatively untapped, and it leaves me halfway indifferent.
Vexamen is the first disc from the obscure entity from New Zealand, and it's not entirely
anonymous and worthless. It's just that I've have heard so much identical and similar but better. With a few hundred
releases each week*, even the tip of the iceberg consist partly of okay but superfluous material. So
why settle for anything but the very best? *Metal Archives have 17,258 registered releases for 2015
all in all, meaning 332 on average per week.
The men's death metal is of the mysterious, dirty and dark sort with ethereal undertones and a glimpse into the abyss.
The album is presented as a journey into the dark spiritual universe that hidden portals can open when the consciousness
manages to access certain parts of the subconscious.
The band's “abysmal cavernous death metal” has elements of black/death, and the songs have a dynamic touch. The music
from the bottomless cave also has a bit of Greek flavour and as mentioned, it certainly has potential.
The music is pretty good, and I don't feel uncomfortable in any way in their universe, but I have visited its peers
before and returned with greater enthusiasm. The performance is slightly staccato and the compositions slightly
chaotic, while the audio is mixed low and reeks a bit of demo meets debut.
I shall however in no way dissuade anyone from checking this out, for it definitely has its charm, but
I hope the band evolves one step further till next time. Verberis doesn't exactly flunk the
Vexamen, but for the time being, their overall achievement grade is probably not
a whole lot to brag about.
Iron Bonehead&Dark Descent, 14.10.16
Dirty, under-produced, necrotic death metal is what it's all about when US Spectral Voice and Danish
Phrenelith find each other like two rotting corpse in necrophilous carnal knowledge.
Both bands have a small number of years and demos behind them, and delivers one exclusive song each on this split.
The whole session is done in 11 minutes. Hell, even I last longer.
The Denver band goes first with sluggish notes that celebrates everything dead and buried. The song is quite cool, and
if you turn up the volume plentiful, it'll resounds quite well of cellar vocals and primitive savagery in the song named
The Danes follow with the song Once Fertile Soil, where the volume button still needs to be left
on a high level. The sound is closer to the demo position when it comes to these Scandinavians.
Both deliver alright songs, but none excels. The material is fine, but when one have heard similar so many times before,
and this split only delivers two songs, it's like a food sample on your local supermarket; tasty, but not filling, and
not very exciting or anywhere near essential. Therefore not approved. With better production (yes, it can still sound
sepulchral even if adding more punch) and longer playing time, I'm not at all ruling out the possibility for both bands
astonishing very positively in a near future.
German drum virtuoso Hannes Grossmann is, as you're probably aware of, back. Unless melo-progg-technical
extreme metal ain't your thing. In which case it may of course have passed you by unnoticed.
This year's release almost fades a bit, overshadowed by last year's monolith from the collaborative constellation (read
Alkaloid. Perhaps in particular because Grossmann as a solo artist operates in roughly the same landscape.
The Crypts of Sleep is of course still not poor. Not in any way. The German thrives in rugged terrains in
strange borderlands, and the musical regions presented aren't overcrowded. Similarities with earthly genres notwithstanding,
I wonder if this music is located in an alternate reality that reminds just enough about our own to confuse the two.
Compared with loads of quintessential (read “generic”) technical extreme metal (tech-death in particular), Grossmann
is an abnormal master at song-writing and structuring, and compared with the archetypal progressive metal, our German
friend can be said to construct music with a much darker atmosphere and more dissonant moods. The combination suits me perfectly,
and superb instrumentation and nifty sound becomes icing on the cake.
As usual, various prominent assistants have put their fingerprints on the man's compositions. Hannes writes
all of the music and lyrics himself, but only plays drums. Two of the three session members also played on the first album,
2014's The Radial Covenant, and all of them also dwell in Alkaloid. The guitar is handled by
Danny Tunk (ex-Aborted and more), while Linus Klausenitzer (Obscura, Noneuclid etc.) handles the
bass. Morean from Noneuclid and Dark Fortress particularly contribute to furnish the
music with an aura of Alkaloid with his distinctive vocals.
Other guests include guitar solo contributions from Tom Geldschläger (ex-Obscura), Per Nilsson
(Scar Symmetry), Erik Rutan (Hate Eternal) and ex-Obscura gitarist Christian Münzner (Spawn of Possession).
Speaking of vocals. The Crypts of Sleep, and especially the song Hail Satan, shows that tek-prog
lyrics don't necessarily have to deal with sci-fi and similarities.
The Crypts of Sleep is fully on a par with the man's previous album, but needs some time to
settle before all the antics manages to squeeze through the narrow funnel into the subconscious. Beautiful cover art, by the way.
Testimony Records, 14.10.16
Death metal seems to seep out of every Hell-hole in spades these days. Much is wicked as fuck, and some even tougher,
but even Mercyless below sounds awesome and ace in a not utterly spectacular fashion.
At least compared to Escarnium from Brazil, who offers a lethal injection of another world.
The quartet hails from Brazil and has been through their share of replacements and miscellaneous minor releases
during the past eight years.
In addition to the band's second album Interitus offering striking pace and brutal savagery, an intense
atmosphere is built. As a listener I'm gradually drawn into a black hole with an immersion only matched by the engagement
and compassion the band themselves exhibit. The men's black-scorched death metal has an ethereal touch of unknown dimensions
where forms and shapes are abstract and unrecognisable. Howling hypnotic guitars suggests a cosmic nebula, while infernal
punch and insane furore hints at an after-life in purgatory.
When the vertigo subsides after being catapulted through complete darkness, and senses and ability to think little by
little resume operation, a world whose unreal exotic touch and unfamiliar constellations hinting of a forgotten world
of long repressed dreams appear. Could it be Lovecraft's dream world? Or even worse,
R'lyeh, the surreal, non-euclidean nightmare city?
An occasional sample from the real world breaks through as propaganda, just to assure you that your escape from it is
justified. Before the song with the otherwise uplifting title Genocide Ritual for example, we find 50
seconds long Macabre Rites, a foreign correspondent's description of the remains of a bestial genocide.
Isn't it even possible to enjoy some cosy death metal without being reminded of the world's atrocities?
Kaotoxin Records, 07.10.16
The market is flooded with death metal of the classic variety. Think Immolation, Sinister, Krisiun
et al. Much of what I lend my ear to, just make me mentally fatigued. Death metal without distinctiveness and hooks can be
pulverizing enough, but drowns in identical hopefuls, void of identity. Sometimes you still come across something that sticks
out in the crowd.
That the cover art is ugly as a scorched porkchop long lost under the porch, and fills me with disgust, is bloody irrelevant.
French Mercyless is no newcomer. Far from it. The band turns 30 next year, and is thus among the
veterans and pioneers of the industry. The band debuted in 1992 and released four albums before they disbanded in
2001. Ten years later, the motivation was back, and two members jump-started the cadaver with high voltage. The
comeback album was released two years later. Welcome to the band's sixth record, Pathetic Divinity.
The band's brutal aggression carries a blasphemous message. It is tempting to speculate that the very heartfelt
anti-Christian values helps providing Mercyless with that extra boost of motivation to emerge as
genuinely pissed. Their death metal is not only fairly indignant, it is veritably raging. The infamous outbreak is
tight as sticks of dynamite and detonates just as loud and powerful.
Internal variation prevents repetition. A hellish drift the world hasn't seen the likes of since Genghis Khan
traversed the steppes. You get the picture. If I were to nitpick a bit, there's still room for a little
more memorable meat hooks, but fuck it. Killer as Hell. Mercyless is amid mentioned bands and other
great ones at the top of the food chain, as they prove with Pathetic Divinity.
Empire Records, 30.09.2016
Do you regard King Diamond's classic "Them" as sacred ground? Do you consider any attempt to
recreate the magic by replicating the style as profane sacrilege? If so, you may want to avoid reading any further.
If, on the other hand, you can't get enough, and you might settle for a considerable paler copy,
Sweet Hallow might be just your thing.
Them was created in 2008 as a tribute band. Having toured with a few former members of the mother-band for
some years, things escalated when main-man and vocalist Troy "KK Fossor" Norr (Cold Steel) a couple
of years ago began working on a concept that eventually evolved into Sweet Hallow. He was joined by other
established musicians that you can check out on Encyclopaedia Metallum. No point in reciting a
plethora of easily accessible information. (As I did with Martröð a few steps down on this very page.)
The album is like King Diamond light, slightly diluted, but it still doesn't taste completely plastic.
Each aspect has different grades of “pretty good” but non of them touches upon the original.
The songs are not quite as cleverly arranged as one could have hoped for, but they still have alright variation. As expected,
the tracks are melodic with each their identity. Like the album's horror concept, the songs also fit quite well together.
The majority of the songs are pretty good, but some songs and sequences must withstand to bear the characteristic rather
boring. There are even some cheesy sequences that becomes a bit embarrassing. Especially “countdown, three, two, one” in
Ghost in the Graveyard sounds kind of juvenile, and the groove-metal vocals in The Harrowing Road
to Hollow absolutely doesn't appeal. The latter is also located on the albums second half, and the album does
unfortunately worsen a bit towards the end. It's not easy to edit out music when a story is being told, but the last 4-5
tracks could with advantage have been scrapped. Then, the grade would perhaps have grown a notch or three. Unless it's the
duration of 54 minutes that gets to me.
The music has a slightly unfortunate power-metallic approach, which helps to make the scarce hour an ordeal, to a small
extent. A little more edge would definitely have done well. The instrumentation is impeccable, but song structure and
stylistic expression does feel a bit too safe. The music in general sounds a little bit too power and cheesy compared to
the original, and the latest songs in particular has a notable “modern” feel.
However, I appreciate the vocal solution. King Diamond has a unique vocals that Troy fortunately
doesn't in vain attempt to copy. Instead, he mixes comfortable clean vocals with good register and varied melodic singing
with a brighter pitch that creates the right vibe without plagiarizing.
The sound is of course well-produced but contemporary benefits also face the greatest contemporary downside regarding
sound. "Them" had a dynamic range of DR14, but Them only achieve DR6 on average with
Sweet Hallow. The majority of the songs don't even reach above DR5. The crushed compression may be another reason
that 54 minutes feels like a test of patience.
You have already read the conclusion, but I have a little bit to add before we round off. Sweet Hallow is an okay album but no necessity. The album is not a complete failure, but it's not really
getting any better for each spin. On the contrary, I rather get gradually more tired of it, although I have sought diversion
in other music in the mean time. I initially considered the music as pretty good, but by now I don't even bother to listen
to it while I formulate these last sentences. Thus, I'm lowering the grading to a weak medium. Audible, but futile.
Two years have passed since the Bergen, Norway based band Tortorum, where the two original members hail
from Britain and Poland, released the excellent Katabasis.
Meanwhile, renown Dirge Rep has come and gone as drummer. Sulphur's
Vrolok was the one handling the sticks on both their albums. With panache. Barghest, as always, takes care of vocals and bass, while the guitars are still handled by Skyggen
and Specter. Skyggen has assumed responsibility of hammering on this EP.
After the recording of this EP, Andreas Fosse Salbu from Reptilian have also become permanent
inventory, so get ready for some triple guitar harmonies à la Iron Maiden on Tortorum's third album.
A change that doesn't concern line-up, is the pace. Where the two first albums spurted flames like pyromaniac arsonists
in the night, the flames are flickering more quietly when the band explores the more putrid sides of black metal.
The mini album clocks in at around half an hour and consists of the intro Ioa Al and five songs with
duration from five to seven minutes. The intro consists of quiet, sombre and ominous guitars that sets an unearthly
mood before flaming disgust reveals itself in All Suns Black and Night of the Witch.
The burning dread is performed with soberly patience, though, like a calculated, but raving mad killer lurking behind
the nearest dismal fog. The black metal is utterly dim, dirty and hostile, with an uncanny ghostly aura.
Not until the third ordinary song, Life is the Enemy, Tortorum grease their lightning
with fervent hatred. With Lucifer Victrix, the tempo is lowered to a minimum, while macabre profane
rites makes rotting flesh come alive in the cemetery, before Black Mantra Mysteries sends embers of
infernal discouragement sky high in a somewhat more frenetic pace.
This EP doesn't give me as much as Katabasis did, but that was also a mighty album of another pitch-black
world. There's enough simmering disgust in Rotten. Dead. Forgotten. to put a few things
on fire, and we're not talking any old kindle but more like a solid torching.
Chaos Records, 03.10.16
Swedish decomposed have released their third album.
Although the legacy of Stockholm has had a certain impact, it is still
wrong to compare the band from Sundsvall to classic HM-2 death metal.
The crew is on this album reduced from quartet to only Jesper Ekstål on everything besides the drums, which
is left to the guest musician Emil Leijon from another new and promising death metal band, Cerecloth.
The tough and leaden death metal these guys deliver, has roots deep in the grave, and is discharged as ominous curses.
The band's sepulchral death metal has more in common with bands such as Drowned, Grave Miasma, Deathcult, Gutter Instinct, or Uttertomb. It's gloomy, dark and doomed, and full
of dismay. Further, the metal holds a hint of occultism, and at its slowest, a vague but unmistakable whiff of death/doom.
The expression and sound Decomposed offers is killer as hell, but Wither only becomes
“almost very good”.
Some songs and sequences are of a very strong kind, and we're not just talking tendencies to fully fledged grandiose deadly
disgust either. Unfortunately, everything ain't on the same level. Especially the rapid full throttle sequences are somewhat
identical and insipid, yes even a bit staccato at times. But even if the song writing isn't top notch throughout, the lion's
share works good, and parts of the material also works exquisitely.
If the band had delivered solid, stainless steel hooks, scattered all the way, they would've excelled in the top echelon.
Despite some flaws... This is death metal tough as nails, and I enjoy Wither as it is.
Black Lion Productions, 13.08.16
It's been four months since we dissected the Temple Of Stilled Voices EP from Swedish Mist Of Misery, and I complained over
both song-writing and sound. The band has of course taken my words into consideration.
That's just the way it is. My profound authoritative influential impact is voluminous and highly revered.
Joke aside, I really believed these Swedes had what it took to deliver, and with their sophomore full-length, they have
indeed fulfilled my hopes.
The 43 minute long album opens with soft and muted violin strings that keep the listener on the edge of their seats and chairs
for more than five minutes before the drums kicks in, giving the go-ahead for barbed wire guitars and rasping werewolf-howls.
During the first song, it is obvious that the band can write black symphonic metal with very good variety and emotional moods.
It is equally easy to hear how improvements to the sound lifts the music up and out of the cardboard box and lets it float
freely above the treetops as majestic birds of prey.
The title song Absence is an excellent choice as the first single. The song opens in a Baroque spirit, with
the unique sound of the harpsichord. Riffing with an atmospheric backdrop soon makes space for placid, peaceful medieval moods
which merge with elements of black Scandinavian metal to an offspring of what we know as atmospheric black metal. I call it
an offspring because Mist of Misery offers clearer punch and wonderful guitar works that creates a lovely
distinctive character that everyone and their mother could learn something from. When the song ends with 45 seconds of playful
harpsichord in a simplified Bach spirit, I become downright jolly spirited.
Of course this is not black metal by definition, but symphonic atmospheric metal with ties to black and folk metal with
elements of rustic late-renaissance and an atmosphere of melancholy and Nordic nature. A solid alloy of such diverse elements
that alchemy can not take the glory all alone. Witchcraft and sorcery must have been employed.
The rest of the album apply the same ingredients, plus a few more, like flute, acoustic guitar and pipe organ. The mixing
ratio is still different from tune to tune, and both album and songs appear to be exemplary in diversity. Wonderful guitars
and delightful percussion with fashionable variation-riches is impeccably executed, and beautiful spellbinding moods prevails.
The difference from the EP is very palpable, and I'm left baffled by the abrupt transition to clever compositions,
masterful implementation and superb sound. Splendiferous! Absence is a must in the collection for
anyone who enjoy hybrids between atmospheric and orchestral black tones with a latent touch of folk musical moods!
There wasn't much warm moods of Scottish highlands to be found in Haar's rancid universe, so to remedy this, and to
offer a dose of real Gaelic highlander metal we go directly to Argentine Skiltron.
Confused? It's quite simple, really: These Argentinians have dedicated themselves to Celtic folk metal. It's as natural
as if a Spanish
band were to do the same thing, or as if a Finnish band should have played Japanese samurai metal.
Though that's probably never going to happen.
In other word, it's completely natural
I discovered Skiltron late but good when I reviewed the first three albums in their
Their music didn't give me an epochal experience, but I still remember the band. Not bad in itself.
With bagpipes, tin whistle, mandolin (lute used extensively in bluegrass) and bouzouki (long
necked lute) a strong sense of unspoilt Scottish scenery and an the occasional castle in best
Scrooge McDuck style
is created. Complemented with moods of various clans, wearing the respective clans kilts, competing
against each other at caber tossing, it's easy to overlook that the metal segment actually mostly
sort under the power metal umbrella, with a good dose of hard rock of the quiet variety added.
The band has once again acquired a new singer. Martin McManus hails from Newcastle, and sings with clean
vocals, yet not without a certain degree of becoming thrust to the vocal cords. He admittedly don't have as much rust in the
voice as the band's original vocalist, but ain't as power as the successor. Pereg Ar Bagol is also
new in the band. The Frenchman has taken over the bagpipes and penny whistle, and he does a good job indeed.
I had to consult the previous albums to decide if this was actually any better. Based on what I could remember,
Legacy Of Blood seemed to be a step up and forward. The songs might not stick permanently to mind before the
album has received more spins than I intend to treat it with this time, but the melodies are more often than not lively and
cheerful as dwarfs having discovered gold. With its leisurely pace and its soft appearance, this doesn't feel very
metal, though. Their fifth album is at about the same level as the first album, The Clans Have United.
The quintet would obviously have been tougher in my ears if they had shifted gears from somewhat drab power metal to a flowing
and galloping heavy metal pulse, but for preferring an epic and jovial variant that highlights a ballad-like atmosphere of
breathtaking scenery and Braveheart courage, what Skiltron delivers with Legacy of Blood
isn't bad. Not bad at all. This is probably about as good as the band gets. I apply a little bit of goodwill, although I
prefer a little more punch.
The album opens in a nifty pace with Highland Blood. A song like The Taste Of Victory shows a more serene and epic side of the band, without it being all too cheesy.
If you're looking for music in the style of Scottish/Irish drinking songs, Sawney Bean Clan should be a better choice.
Near the end of last year, Australian Ur Draugr delivered an album called With Hunger Undying, that made a very strong impact
on your truly.
Scottish Haar also got my approval for their latest work, The Wayward Ceremony, although the song material wasn't
When the kilt-clad barbarians now meets the untamed predators from down under in a sonic duel, they've stepped up their
game and raised the stakes.
Haar is the first band out, with three songs totalling 23 minutes, where they explore the inherent longing
and blind faith in a kind of all-encompassing order in the chaotic state of coincidence we call life. An idée fixe that
Freud and his peers refer to as Sehnsucht, a deep yearning for meaning, happiness, pleasure and satisfaction.
This concept is carried out through dissonant black metal with progressive structures, permeated with atonal riffs and gloomy,
discordant moods. If you survive this, you don't need system and meaning. You'll settle for a handful of harmony and balance
in your life.
Ur Draugr don't sooth frayed nerves when they take over the baton with the nearly 20 minute long song
The Vista Profunda. The Australians also offer dissonant riffs and hectic transitions, frenetic thrust
and ominous moods. With a mixture of sharp, rasping vocals and clean vocals, the band emits a few associations to
contemporary Enslaved. The similarities, however, ain't very distinct, and when the music calms down, it only amplifies
the songs dystopic moods before grim and vicious furore again kick in.
No rhythm or riff lasts for long before being replaced by other, and at times completely unexpected directions, in a
conceptual journey inspired by Baudrillard and Nietzsche's philosophical doctrines, Lovecraft's
Dream Cycle and Robert Chambers' most famous works of supernatural fiction and horror literature,
The King in Yellow.
Ur Draugr again impress me considerably, and the name should be noted by anyone who likes their
black metal exciting and unsafe. Along with Haar, who have really got the hang of creating
horrendous notes that can make the listener sick to the stomach, they deliver a delightful split with over 40 minutes
of convincingly evocative disgust that you'd do well checking out.
Relapse Records, 07.10.16
With Relapse backing the newcomers, Gatecreeper have managed to make their mark reasonably fast.
The band from Arizona plays pure, leaden death metal of the timeless sort, and has done so since 2013. After an EP and
participation on three splits, Sonoran Depravation is their first full length.
I veto the band name. Gatecreeper couldn't even sneak up on a deaf and senile old hag in a coma.
Gatestomper would perhaps have been a better moniker, or even better; Gatecrusher.
The death metal is of the sluggish, groovy kind, and when the otherwise short press release points out similarities to
amongst other Bolt Thrower, they call a spade a spade in a brief, concise and forthright manner. To give a
little fuller picture, they also mention Swedish circular-saw metal like Dismember and groove monsters as
Obituary. Spot on, once more.
I could have almost just wrapped this up right here and now.
The quintet have a few years behind them, but neither sound nor performance reveals that the band actually has less
than four years of collective experience. The sound is rich, with massive punch and resounding riffs. Instrumentation
and vocals don't lag behind to what said references reeled off with glowing youthful zeal back in the early 90s. The
song writing is unfortunately not quite on the same level. It must also be allowed to nitpick at the weak dynamic range
that alternate between DR5 and DR6. I've heard far worse examples of clipping, but when the vocalist empties his lungs
over hammering rhythms and clawing riffs, the distortion grates a little more than strictly necessary.
There are melodic segments within the songs, but in deadly tradition, melodies don't encircle the songs. It's the riffs
that reigns, along with sheer thrust. Thus, you know what kind of metal Gatecreeper plays, i.e. a raw
and brutal demonstration of the power of pure, lethal death. But is it any good?
Sonoran Depravation may not be able to boast of tracks that matches your absolute favourites in the
genre. That would likely also been asking too much. They offer on a plethora of harsh riffs and varied guitar works
though, with just the right amount of melody, that at times offer solid explosives, but that don't exceed or brings
anything new to the genre. The guys still offer on enough killer-riffs to avoid just sounding like yet another rehash
of yesteryears. Of course they don't deliver on pair with classics like Cause of Death, ...For Victory,
Severed Survival, Like an Everflowing Stream and Left Hand Path. It's probably quite unfair
to compare to these anyway. Besides, I guess nobody would expects a new classic within the genre at this point anyway.
Sonoran Depravation stands firmly on its own feet, and the sawmill (aside from mentioned compression)
sounds tough as a good beating, if that last part makes any sense.
The compositions lives up to expectations that, for a healthy sceptic with a cool head, is naturally kept in check. If
you live for death... metal, you'll guaranteed come to like Sonoran Depravation. Just over 30 minutes is a fair dose
and when the album ends with crushingly leaden and atmospheric moods in the shape of Grotesque Operations,
a proper last impression and the taste for more is well represented. Watch the video for Desperation as well.
Bonus puzzle: try to find the number of hidden skulls in the cover art.
Terratur Possessions, 15.09.16&Fallen
Empire, 20.09.16 Martröð is again an exciting new acquaintance. The band is an international collaboration between artists
from Iceland, France, USA and Italy, and the members are otherwise based in a shitload of prestigious bands.
The music they've constructed together, is black metal of the anxiety-generating, claustrophobic type.
We are hereby present with two songs clocking in at about eight minutes each.
To begin with the line-up.
French MkM from amongst other Aosoth and Antaeus deals with vocals.
The two main guitarists are American A.P., best known from Krieg, but also from Skáphe,
Esoterica et al., and Icelandic H.V Lyngdal from Wormlust and various other bands.
Former Krieg- and Lurker of Chalice member Wrest, now renown for his band
Leviathan, also contribute some guitars and ambience.
On bass and additional vocals we find D.G. from Misþyrming, Naðra, Skáphe
and so on.
Behind the drum-kit, we find Italian Thorns, who has his daily routine in Blut Aus Nord,
Fides Inversa, Frostmoon Eclipse and Manetheren etc., and who have an impressive track
record with previous employers such as Acherontas, Glorior Belli, Macabre Omen and much more.
A rather impressive list of teamed-up partners, I'd say.
The music could quickly have become a disappointing affair if the men hadn't lived up to their good names. In that sense,
one might not be super-impressed by the fact that the music is hypnotic and disturbing in a more than convincing fashion.
One gets what one expects from skilled people.
Draumleiðsla begins with a rather odd sound-collage, before cascades of dissonant black discomfort, after
nearly two minutes, are finally dumped over the listener like a truck-load of rotten fish. Layer upon layer of discordant
guitars and sick noises act as a feverish nightmare. Song two are confusingly anti-christened Draumleysa.
Naturally, it's not hugely different in expression. The two are still not difficult to distinguish. The pace is
calmed down in the second song, providing unnerving moods of endless labyrinthine catacombs where ghost-like sounds are
thrown as rolling echoes between grimy brick walls.
It takes a few spins to get familiar with the two songs. Every healthy and sensible nerve fiber in the body resists, and
the immune system is working in high gear to block this sonic infection. Body and mind must soon resign. The occupying
power is too abrupt and aggressive.
Raw music, but I think it'll work better in full-length format.
Not recommended for mentally healthy, properly adult, joyful individuals.
Satanath records&Darzamadicus records, 30.09.16
The quintet NordWitch hails from Ukraine, and was formed in February last year. On the debut with the nifty
Danish/Norwegian title Mørk Profeti, which translates to Dark Prophecy, we find a squirt of
clean, Hungarian blood... from drummer Donets Stepan, but subsequently, he's been replaced. Otherwise,
the line-up is stable.
The band plays death metal with a lot of melody and mood, as well as aggression and punch, and a whiff of sulphur and soot.
Opener Dominion quickly shows a hungry band with stand-tall posture and dominant attitude, which is also
representative for the album in its entirety. With frantic Hungarian pace, lack of vehement percussion likely don't have
anything to do with the replacement. The footwork speeds off at high velocity and the handiwork moves like a dancing
lightweight boxer in the ring.
Max and Leo are the ones handling lead guitar and riff guitar respectively. (The last time
I played “rhythm guitar” was when I bashed the guitar rhythmically and repeatedly over my guitar teacher's head.) They are
fully in step with the flyweight boxing as allegory. They swirl like butterflies and sting like wasps, to paraphrase (or
misquote) Muhammad Ali.
The bassist is also known as Max, and is responsible for ensuring that the airy guitars don't soar of
into the sky and evaporate. As an earthy lead plumb, Max Senchilo stomps the rhythm till the soil trembles,
whilst also blocking the sun to prevent the expression from becoming too bright and cheerful.
On top, guttural, elongated Minotaur-roars towers. It took a few spins before I noticed that the vocals were performed
by a lioness. The band's female alibi is named Мария, but uses the pseudonym
Masha Crematorium, and is throat-wise no more feminine than that she's fully capable of delivering oestrus
roars, deep as a chain-smoking, ready-for-mating, moose in an oil painted sunset.
Together the instruments create a vital and massive parade of swarming melodies and sturdy moods of strength and courage.
The rhythms borrows a bit from Viking and black metal, and the atmosphere also bears witness to an inspiration from folk
and pagan. The technically proficient guitar works are wonderful, and the pace and drive smells scorched. A whiff of
thrash is also noticeable in the expression.
It feels, perhaps, natural to compare NordWitch too female fronted Arch Enemy, but the Swedes
are closer to the melody-based style and rhythms better known from Gothenburg. If we stay in Sweden but move over to
Stockholm and Amon Amarth, it's at least getting somewhat warmer.
The sound is just as rich as it ought to be and with decent dynamics situated on DR8, the music becomes alive like
greedy, devouring flames.
My dark prophecy is that the talented Ukrainians of NordWitch can go far, for they deliver
dynamite that should be able to appeal to most folks who appreciate extreme metal with a good melodic stroke. The duration
of 38 minutes is just right and all the songs are also good and exempt of unnecessary fillers. Even the cover is killer.
The band plays an atmospheric, melodic and melancholic offspring of partly ambient-sounding black metal.
It is the use of synth, with artificial dinging sounds, which doesn't even attempt to simulate other instruments, that
creates the ambience touch. As a synthetic backlit blanket with fluorescent stars, this creates a backdrop to what is
presented as “Cosmic Black Metal”.
Beyond that, we're talking calm mid-tempo metal with a dreamy touch and dejected undertones. The vocal's cries of grief
reverberates in the night, but the music nevertheless don't become downright depressive, as the music has an inherent
unsettled feeling of longing, which is neither directly minor-keyed nor major-infested, but rather quite neutral.
I like the band best when synthesizer is put to rest, as it often robs more than it adds. There are a number of sequences
without synth where other instruments manage perfectly well to create a suggestive atmosphere on their own. Several tracks
have passages that excels on the album (though not significantly in a larger context). Kadoten merien hautaan
for instance, got several alright parts. The song admittedly got subdued violins that might very well be synthetic, but
that's a whole different matter. The synth ain't too excessively used, and doesn't ruin the overall impression particularly,
but synth in general is usually better when it simulates real instruments, and best when it's been replaced by them.
The sound is far from polished. It preserves an underground feel that is highly flattering. It still sounds so thoroughly
executed that I avoid the term under-produced. There is nothing amateurish over either audio nor implementation. I have a
taste for the inhumane snarling cries and the small dynamic variation of the drums. Guitar and dark, rocking bass is handled
well, creating an ever so nice hypnotic mood.
When AntimateriA succeeded in creating reasonably good melodies, which happens quite often, Valo
Aikojen Takaa becomes a pleasant piece of music. Nothing feels memorable enough to gain permanent residence permit
between my ears, though. When the melody lines are at its most generic, however, the music feel much more unnecessary.
The only cosmos AntimateriA will conqueror, is probably its own microcosm, where a few selected percentages
will most likely join them. Further, some percentages of the black hordes will possibly follow at a distance, while most are
more likely to shrug their shoulders.
If you are searching for dreamy, semi-ambient black metal, check out Sieltä mistä valokaan ei milloinkaan,
where the synthesizer actually helps to enhance the mood in a decent manner, or Kun aukeaa mysteerit kuoleman.
An absolutely alright album that it won't hurt to check out a few songs from, even for the non-searchers.
Who knows, you might just be one of the selected few....
Feel free to download the free label sampler from Purity Through Fire while your at it.
Whether an album is compared to the rest of the bands discography and to adequate releases of related bands, or if
it's being judged separately, independent of its own and others' history, can affect the results significantly.
To achieve the most accurate impression, it's clearly best to put an album in the proper context. I do however
not listen a lot to technical/progressive death metal, and especially not to bands that explores this direction.
The direction I am referring to, is the band's gentle progressive side. Though there are aggressive segments, the music to a
greater extent just feels lively, dreamy and curiously exploring. The music race through the air like a long Chinese dragon,
and no nooks on its aimless way is left unsurveyed. The music feels harmless, but ain't toothless in the same manner as
power metal. The dragon's got the head of a lion and sharp teeth, but only snap and snarl when needed.
The vocalist, on the other hand, bark and bite, but sounds more like he's protesting against the music's colourful character.
Both black and death vocals are admittedly present, and they even overlap at times, but only one vocalist is specified for
the Swiss trio who have hired Arran McSporran (De Profundis) as session bassist. The rhythm guitar attempts to flex muscles too, and arches
like an infuriated feline, but the seemingly threatening dragon is just basking in the sun and acting surprisingly harmless.
It's the vital solo guitar that becomes personified as the flamboyant dragon, and that steals most the show in songs characterized
by frequent and unpredictable transitions. Without natural enemies, the long and slender, yet muscular and powerful
mythological reptile-like fable creature flaps and flutter unconcerned round like butterflies testing the chaos theory in practice.
Despite a tincture of extreme metal, the forty-minute long album primarily becomes a veritable joy spreader. The musics virile
and unintentional(?) cheerful character as it dances like leaves in the wind, gives a glimpse of sunshine behind a rough and
tough exterior, perhaps even revealing the shadow of a a smile on someone’s lips.
I'm basically not the right man to grade Virvum's debut. Genre aficionados could, for all I know, declare
this album as run-of-the-mill. On its own, the album is nevertheless so pleasurable that I would be surprised if bigger fans
of the genre wouldn't enjoy it quite a bit too. Virvum presents what I typically deem as springtime music with a sensation of summer, but I don't disregard that
Illuminance may also melt some mental ice and give a flash of light even in what feels like polar nights during winter.
Solitude Productions, 26.09.16
The Germans with the characteristic green cover arts are back to spread genuine grief and discomfort.
For those who have no knowledge of Doomed, the band plays death/doom with sadness and misery à la funeral,
but with a more vital and progressive approach.
Unlike all too many home-made one-man bands, Doomed it what it may be tempting to call a professional
one-man band. Except from a few guests, mainly vocalists, the full burden lies on Pierre Laube's shoulders,
and Anna is his fifth Doomed album since 2011.
The previous album, Wrath Monolith was discussed when it was released in May last year.
One of the band's strengths are the beautiful and well-written melodies in fusion with heaviness and depression. The music
is layered as different acids and toxins on the skin. First, the skin etches away before the venom spreads unhindered. The
bright proggy guitars in the first song sets the immune system completely out of action, unable to take note of the discordant
The title song is, with the exception of the brief piano interlude Roots Remain, the albums shortest song.
In four minutes, Anna triggers a strong neurotoxin that makes the psyche collapse completely.
Another strength is namely the moods that are conjured up. These are not directly convenient for the faint hearted. The mental
feeling of something askew spreads to the abdominal region. The alarming feelings after a dispute that went too far, and where
one is left with a sore and distressing sensation of larvae in the stomach. Dispirited black thoughts creep up on the listener
and poisons the mind, much like the feelings after a party with too large amounts of fluids and black holes in the memory that
evokes a nagging suspicion of a a lapse from grace concerning social relations.
The ten minutes long track Withering Leaves is just evil. Far in the background, happy jazz à la ragtime can
sometimes be tracked, hidden behind an ominous layer of frenetic vocals and dystopian swarms of steel strings.
The peculiar melody lines, the layering and proggy structure and the claustrophobic moods shows a band that doesn't just
glue together different riffs and song segments to create longer songs, but who has composed coherent pieces without
leaving anything to chance. Even the lyrical aspect follows the same path, as Pierre once again have
constructed a concept album. This in turn requires something from the listener. Time. Surrender without resistance,
and provide Anna with what she demands. For as you're very well aware of, resistance is futile.
Napalm Records, 30.09.16
In a few months it'll be two years since the Icelandic Vikings in Skálmöld released their third full-length album.
Having spent time with Viking raids to promote Með Vættum, the guys have had shore leave, prepared the next
expedition and anew set sail.
With lullabies for Yggdrasil, the tree of life, the listener is taken on a musical journey through the nine homeworlds
of Norse cosmology.
The band still blends elements from Norse and Scandinavian roots, be it Viking- or other folk-inspirations, with epic,
doomy melodeath. The band also still writes songs with individual character which together form a good overall composition.
My main objection is a rather monotonous touch. This is due partly to pace, which does not vary much within each song, but
also the half-growling vocals, which shows a limited vocal range. At times limited to one note. The black vocals are more
in the background, while a chorus of clean vocals sometimes emerges from the shadows. The album isn't directly tedious, but
the songs still have a tendency to be fairly dragged out.
The album offers a variety of nice melodies and exquisite guitar works, but little is yet absolutely unforgettable. The most
interesting is the compositional range from song to song. The nine worlds, according to Norse mythology, has won each their
pictorial expression in musical costume. Despite said monotony, which regards each song as a whole, the songs has much spirit
sequence by sequence, if that even makes any sense. Where the drums are overall pretty boring and the vocals do little to
reinforce the melody lines, the guitars and oboe shines. The latter is particularly evident in Niðavellir.
Vögguvísur Yggdrasil also gives a somewhat orchestral feel. Whether it's primarily the interaction between two
guitars and a little oboe that creates this feeling, and/or how big influence the synth might have, I have trouble determining.
Subsequent Miðgarður continues the folk-metallic moods, which are not as strong in the albums two first tracks,
Múspell and Niflheimur, while the Viking vibes are topped with Útgarður. Álfheimur stand out and simultaneously sounds remarkably familiar. The song opens with a bit odd, yet captivating
fresh melody line that closely resembles brass... A style of music I normally don't tolerate well on its own. After a little melody
and varied rhythms, Norse choir is on the menu, before the intro sequence returns at the end. A nifty and varied song. Ásgarður again bid on good variety, from delicate melody via layered cacophony, and back. When fast-paced
Helheimur have had its say after just three minutes, a little under ten minutes long Vanaheimur
ends the album. This is an epic hymn where subdued pipe organ eventually take over and the subtle symphonic undertones blossoms
to its fullest extent.
The monotonous character, and often relatively quiet pace, creates a slightly soporific touch, but with a title like
Vögguvísur Yggdrasil (lullabies for Yggdrasil, remember), that may have been in the cards all along. The music
is still more than varied enough, and also so good that a lower grade than “approved with certain remarks opposed by a minority
of the fictional jury” is out of the question.
See the video to Niðavellir, and feel free to explore the nine Norse homeworlds via
PS: The approximately 10-second long melody line from about 43 seconds into the video, which is also repeated several times later,
may remind slightly of Maiden's Mother Russia, but it provides stronger associations of a more dismal and slower
version, namely the middle sequence of Entombed's Left Hand Path. It took me an annoyingly long time to place it.
Edit 13.10.16: A lyric video for the song Vanaheimur has just been published.
Prosthetic Records, 30.09.16
Spanish Noctem are anew ready to make an effort for king and fatherland. Though, they probably care fuck-all
for monarchs and regents like the rest of us, and it's not exactly jolly anecdotes from their homeland they present us with.
At first glance, so to speak, Haeresis emerges as at least two notches more sterile than masterful
Exilium. That first impression changing quickly, though.
No one expects the Spanish Inquisition, but here it returns with full force.
The glorious melodies and powerful orchestral elements from its predecessor now belongs to the past. The bereavement of this
loss however disappear as morning dew for the sun as soon as the blows makes the listener to numb to register them.
Noctem returns somewhat to its roots, especially the second-album Oblivion. This sounds a bit more
brutal than the previous crossroad, but there's no shortage of substance. The music also preserves a remaining grandiose feel,
with proud attitude in the raw and tight performance. Meanwhile, peaceful but perilous parts are incorporated, utilizing even
acoustic strings and epic choirs.
The albums opening track, Through the Black Temples of Disaster, starts off with an inhuman pace, but tempers
the pace somewhat in favour of more devilish moods towards the end. There's no hiding that my mind is drawn toward Swedish
black metal right here. The almost hissing vocals was my greatest objection the last time, but in this track it operates with
pitch-black passion, while alternating between black vocals and rasping growls on the rest of the album, which also often run
off in a pretty good pace. When the album is not racing away, the stout-hearted, arrogant and powerful moods prevail.
The Spaniards offer delightful raging black/death with Haeresis, and it sounds juicy and powerfully as expected.
With the finishing touches from Necromorbus Studio, the Spaniards emerges fiery as furies. Surprisingly good dynamics
with DR8 on average is also enjoyable. But sound alone is obviously not worth much without underlying efforts. Feisty guitars
with rich riffing and proficient drumming, along with stalwart moods and tough song writing, establish the foundation of an album
that quickly grows into a full-blown fireworks of extreme metal. The album don't seem to wane any time soon either, for it just
continues to grow, and I'd rather not put it away.
Although Noctem have put the successful orchestral experiment from the last album behind them, Haeresis
emerges as a majestic work. I still hold Exilium a notch higher, but Haeresis comes in a solid second place.
Check the album via the link you just skimmed past and see the video for The Submission Discipline.
Prophecy Productions, 30.09.16
About a year ago, Negură Bunget embarked upon their Transylvanian trilogy with delightful
Tău, which explored local nature and legends. Now the band is here with the second part, which takes a closer
look at local traditions and rituals, with special focus on the traditional development phases and associated initiations
men undergo from children, through teens and young adulthood to fully fledged warriors, and onward to outcasts.
It's been 20 years since the band was founded, and the guys ain't afraid to experiment with their expression.
Zi, which means day or say, is a very quiet album, where elements like flute, acoustic guitar
and wind chimes creates a fairly ceremonial mood. Some metallic extremity is in place, but in such a monotonous manner
that it doesn't feel extreme, what so ever. The music has a dreamy, sacral and mysterious atmosphere, but I can't quite
feel the primordial power this time.
The Romanians opens their barely 50 minutes long eighth full-length with a jumble of exuberant voices, hunting trumpets and primal
drumming on tree trunks. A rather silly avant-garde start that occupy four minutes of Tul-ni-că-rînd.
The music does gradually improve, but the feeling of primitive and monotonous indigenous folk-music mixed with equally
toothless metal endure. The main reason why it would be wrong to mention a little post-metallic tinge in Negură
Bunget's music is that much of the same basic monotone moods that became more trivial, especially in the Western
world, through post-rock, are typical features of immemorial folk music that's been around for eons. Taking this reasoning
to the extreme, one might even say that the genre-term post-X is rather misleading.
I generally think that Zi is fairly protracted and boring, but the album has its moments. The last half
of Baciul Moșneag is evocative, and subsequent Stanciu Gruiul is enjoyable. It
opens with a stringed instrument that has a certain timbre that somehow reminds me of old pianos in western films, but
with an Asian twist. It rests an aura of Kroda over the start, while the rest of the song has a light, trotting
drive over plains in wild nature, that together with foreign instruments brings associations to the Mongolian steppe-rockers
The rest of the album, or at least most of it, don't do much for me this time around. Quite disappointing from old
heroes, but of course I'll give them a new chance when the trilogy are scheduled to be concluded in early 2018.