Dark Essence Records, 29.04.16
More than ten years have passed since the Norwegian sogna-metal band Mistur released a very promising demo.
Meanwhile, only one album has been presented. It was in turn very good. It showed a fairly traditional band in the wake of
Windir, but fully able to write good songs on their own.
Now that Mistur is finally back, we see a band in development, a band whose creativity does not allow
one-way traffic stagnation.
Mistur was started in the small but scenic sites of Kaupanger/Sogndal in 2003 by André Raunehaug
and Espen Bakketeig who both later were involved in Sigtyr for a few years. I'm not
sure whether sogna-metal veteran Stian “Strom” Bakketeig, previously in Ulcus (Molle),
Windir and Cor Scorpii and now even in Vreid, joined in before or after the band released the demo
Skoddefjellet in 2005.
On their first full length Attende in 2009, Ole Hartvigsen from Emancer and
Kampfar, and Odne from Sigtyr, had joined but they are now long gone. Many others have come and
gone too, but keyboardist and clean vocalist Espen and guitarists André and
Stian has endured.
New main vocalist since 2011 is named Oliver Øien while Bjarte Breilid plays bass and
Galar drummer Tomas keeps the rhythm intact.
With In Memoriam, Mistur surprises with extraordinary experimentation compared to their
roots. It's not that they've changed their pasture for greener grass, but they've rather imported and implemented elements
from outside. And it's extremely successful. The guys preserves their folkloric melodies with a local flair, but merges
a striking amount of melodies of a more general touch into intricate arrangements where abundances of melodic peculiarities
practically overlap. Still, Mistur never let us down when it comes to raw punch.
In the opener, we find a pulsating organic wall of sound, where synth orchestra and Hammond are playing extras in a
dramatic play, in which also beautiful clean vocals produces open-hearted, sore and hurt tones in addition to articulated
black-growls that suitably doesn't become too dominant in the sound. The song's progression changes character along the way,
and is thus never at rest. The solo guitar towards the end must be rewarded, but not without mentioning all the other
labyrinthine guitar works.
All songs have sequences worth mentioning. Distant Peaks opens misleadingly anonymous, but soon shows
muscles with whopping melodies, rhythms and moods, Hammond, Moog and orchestra. Just such a stylish detail as when the
guitar morphs into organ about 4.5 minutes into the song is worth recognition in itself.
Exactly ten minutes long Firstborn Son starts with aggressive and galloping rhythms, changes shape when
the pace is reduced violently after about 4:20, until it anew is almost halved after just over a minute. At this point,
your head should be rocking nicely as the solo guitar makes its entrance. Matriarch's Lament begins with silent, dainty orchestral elements and a rear wall of otherworldly synth
that barely starts hinting of sci-fi before the song explodes as an unexpected tsunami of local melodic metal. Sleek,
minimalist use of synth, lovely melodies and a becoming veil of symphony, leads us to... The Sight, whose beautiful melodies and slowly progressive rhythms with Hammond drag bits of the 70s in
and merges this with Viking roots and modern melodic extreme metal in a flawless manner.
Where the song Skuld from the last album flirted with Mozart's requiem Lacrimosa,
Tears of Rememberance becomes the song on In Memoriam that is mostly inspired by
the old master's compositional ingenuity. Admittedly not through a loan this time. A masterpiece that earns its craft
certificate and in an exemplary fashion leaves the listener with a solid last impression.
It's practically a renewed version of the band that confronts us here. It seems to have given them motivation and energy,
for the album sounds playful, enthusiastic and vital.
They say that nothing ventured nothing gained. It could be discuss whether it applies to will toward alternation and
changes within various aspects of metal, but personally I have a taste for the development this band has undergone.
This is fresh, energetic and exciting, and it leaves high hopes of increased activity from Mistur.
The album only contains six songs, but these in return lasts from 7 to 11 minutes. It is possible that they lack a little
bit concerning memory friendliness. That might still be something that comes seeping when album has passed 20 laps on the
If I am to pick at something, it is once again the overtly loud volume that is neither supported by digital formats nor
compatible with physical formats, i.e. a dynamic range of only DR6. This doesn't exactly provide the perfect compliment
to the beautiful musical expression. It rather causes some damage, as I, like everyone else, like to crank it up a bit
when the music is killer. Compressed audio can easily become harsh when the volume is increased, especially in intense
parts as in the first half of Firstborn Son. That the songs lack the very last stage in the chain of
perfection makes the album unfortunately not appear as 100% excellent. This nearly tipped the scales down to
5 points, as the uppermost grade in principle is reserved for perfection on all levels, and “nothing is stronger than
its weakest link”.
The crime scene is Conclave & Earshot Studios and the band's private studio. In a press statement, the Police
report that preliminary forensic investigation reveals clear traces of all instruments and an explosive punch. In other
words, the album has basically got a clear, juicy and bombastic production. Espen Bakketeig has produced
the album, while Bjørnar E. Nilsen (Vulture Industries) has been responsible for mixing.
On the press conference, Police furthermore reveals that an arrest warrant is not yet petitioned, but that punitive
measures will be considered. Sources that Gorger's Metal has been in contact with says that the suspects have
gone underground. For regular updates on the development of this case, tune in on Gorger TV.
In Memoriam is a veritable firework of virtuoso composing, zeal and enthusiasm, where compact audio
admittedly ain't optimal for the album's enjoyment, but where utterly superb music makes me look the other way this time.
All in all, a great album!
Osmose Productions, 29.04.16
I've followed Darkestrah and their wonderful musical style since their third album Epos
was released in 2007. However, I have never had the need to put a label on their musical work. Until now.
Not everyone is excited about extensive pigeon-holing, but to convey the essence of music with words is a near hopeless
task without the aid of a set of genre-terminological phrases.
For existing fans of Darkestrah, and others who have knowledge of them, a description is quite superfluous.
The band has found its own niche, and has not changed their recipe significantly since Epos. Although that
album stands out as slightly different in the discography with a single 33 minutes and 33 seconds long composition, it was
in a way also with that album that the band nailed their expression. Sure, they were on the trail of their identity already
with its predecessor Embrace of Memory, but in a far less refined manner.
For the uninitiated, however, a little explanation is in order. The band plays an atmospheric form of doomy black metal with
oriental folk elements and symphonic undertones. They call it “Epic Shamanic Black Metal” themselves. the music is often
lengthy, lingering, sorrowful and dreamy.
Darkestrah is on the interweb's undisputed encyclopaedia of metal the only registered active bands in
Kyrgyzstan, between China, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, which again borders to Afghanistan amongst others. The country's
Central Asian folk-elements have, probably thanks to influences spread via nomads for thousands of years, a bit in common
with both Mongolia in the east, and what once was the Soviet Union in the north-north/west.
Therefore it's easy to compare with Drudkh, who's located in a similar metallic landscape. Also bands like
Kroda and Negura Bunget in one direction, and Hanggai in another, has some similarities when it
comes to the use of local instrumentation and flavouring, as Temir-komuz (harmonica), throat singing and local stringed
instruments like the lute-like komuz.
As mentioned, the band hasn't changed their recipe radically, but even if they operate within the same framework, they have
mostly never had problems renewing their song material by means of good compositions. As earlier, Darkestrah
delivers pleasant and hypnotic music. The music still doesn't entirely manage to preserve its magic throughout 50
minutes of Turan. It's probably not due to the band repeating itself, but rather because some of the material
is a bit weak and tame compared to the past endeavours. I miss slightly more extensive usage of acoustic folk instrumentation,
as atmospheric black metal in itself is practically dime a dozen.
The sound is acceptable, but even here I find a little bit to nitpick at. I could have wanted some more dynamics, both in
music and sound. Albeit the figures tell no lies, this DR7 dynamics does get pretty intense at times, and serene violin
strings should never drown electric guitars.
Turan is nevertheless a pretty good album, that at times can be very charming. Especially
when melodies, orchestral elements and other spices really work together, as in the songs Erlik-Khan
and Conversions of the Seer. The album does, however, feature a little debris and somehow lacks the
final icing, whilst unfortunately becoming a little more monotonous than its predecessor Manas which
I gave five points and characterized as the band's strongest effort to date, two years ago. Turan is certainly approved, but with a few remarks.
Below, you can hear Gleaming Madness.
The band offers a trailer, and the album can be heard in its entirety on Invisible Oranges.
The band's remaining discography can be explored on Bandcamp.
Indie Recordings, 22.04.16 The Wretched End rose from the ashes of Zyklon in 2008. The band, consisting of well-known
Samoth, Zyklon live bassist Cosmo (Mind Grinder and Scum) and
Dark Funeral's skin beater, there under the pseudonym Dominator, Nils Fjellström.
The band released the albums Ominous and Inroads in 2010 and 2012. I have a taste for
both discs, with their mix of powerful death metal with tasteful elements from other extreme metal corners.
Samoth was mentioned in my pun regarding Emperor on the bottom of this page, and so was Ihsahn.
The latter is out with a new album as well. Only time will tell if I ever get around to it, as I'm not fitted with a promo,
butI wouldn't hold my breath. And just to be a bit tabloid; Einar Solberg, guest on the closing song (we'll be
getting back to that one) is Ihsahn's brother-in-law.
In These Woods, From These Mountains immediately sounds a bit thinner than its predecessors. This is
probably to some extent due to the band producing the album themselves after what they call a conscious decision to seek
a more spontaneous and organic expression. Part of the reason may also be attributed to the fact that the guys have muted
the brick-walled loudness in favour of better dynamics. The band has gone from feeble DR5 on the previous albums, to a
very much acceptable DR7 this time, and the sound is absolutely suitable for their new expression. The main reason why it
sounds different is probably exactly that the music actually is a bit different.
Where death metal used to dominate the guys' extreme metal-expression, the epicentre has shifted in a darker direction.
The trio have taken on a more black scorched form, in which the songs appear to have less nuances in its diversity and
dynamic structures. There are fewer musical antics, but a stronger occult and dystopian feel. The songs simply haven't
got the same bombastic in-your-face throttle as before. The moods rather moves about in charred ruins of wooden buildings
burned to the ground to a soundtrack with elements of kaleidoscopic form. The songs creeps, crawls, wriggles and slither
gradually into the listener's blood vessels. The question is how thick the concentration of snake venom in the circulation
The start with Dead Icons doesn't impresses much. The song becomes a clue monotonous and straight forward,
but after a fairly flat start, the album gradually grows stronger. Unfortunately not all the way to the top. Wobbly worms
and serpent tongues in the expression nonetheless, the flames burns firmly, but they never reach blazingly for the ceiling.
The album has a somewhat reticent touch of calm before the storm. It builds up, but it never quite break loose.
We're on to the album's drawback here. Percussion, riffing, songs, never achieve the dynamic brutality that the predecessors
showcased. The first two albums had vital songs where you never quite knew what lay beyond the next turbulent turn. In 2016,
The Wretched End moves amid soot and ashes without hooks that run deep enough to prevent a bit anonymous
feel. The songs largely lack the most memorable parts.
Few tracks stand out markedly and infect the consciousness, such as The Armageddonist from the debut did.
The gradual variation still prevents complete monotony from occurring, and despite my negative remarks, the album absolutely
ain't bad. It just never manages to be very good, or even as good as expected and hoped for. And that's
more or less the very definition of disappointment or reason thereof.
In These Woods, From These Mountains is a pleasant and rather hypnotic affair in which the mood are the
ace up the songs sleeves. The band's musical development is in itself unproblematic. This bitter and caustic maelstrom of
disgust and discouragement has its appealing ethos, and I have no problems indulging in the album when it's at its best,
such as in Old Norwegian Soul, where mighty moods and melodies constitute a hypnotic seance and Attila
Csihar contributes his distinctive voice, or Misery Harbour, with its tough and rolling rhythms,
which also ends in an unexpected manner. Even the track in between, Generic Drone has cool rhythms and
riffs where ominous guitars acts as wasps and brings a pungent odour of sulphur. The favourite is The Decline and
Fall, where the guitars dance as unscrupulous, topless fairies around one's head.
There are lots of goodies here, but little that brings goosebumps or sticks permanently. There's basically just a few of
the songs that barely appeals at all. Said opening tune, Dead Icons is rather targetless and tedious,
Primordial Freedom feels a bit repetitive and Atheos has a slightly intrusive melody.
It ends very nice, however. Atmospheric Burrowing Deep has guitars that swarm as angry bees wrapped in a
soaring and hypnotic soundscape with enchanting clean chorus vocals, before the album ends refreshingly with a cover of
Dewy Fields by the electro/pop band Bel Canto from northern Norway, where Einar Solberg from
Leprous and Lars “LRZ” Sørensen from Red Harvest attends. A song that works excellently as a
slightly different outro.
I have a liking for most of In These Woods, From These Mountains, although the songs ain't as strong as
I would have wished for on signatures, melodies, structures, surprises and anything else that really gets the level of
serotonin, dopamine or adrenaline to shoot through the ceiling. It should nevertheless be pointed out that my views
regarding each song has had a tendency to shift alarmingly often, even after many spins. It seems to have stabilized after
about ten rounds, though. This may be due to the semi-monotone structure where each song's tortuous progression has so subtle
nuances that the songs acquire a kind of sleepy and monotonous undertone, making the songs and the album slightly uniform.
I'm a little bit disappointed, but when I come over it, it's possible to enjoy the album, which after all is well
above average. I have no doubt that four of six points is the right score for a pretty good - neither more nor less -
album like this.
I would neither have chosen Dead Icons as the first single, nor Primordial Freedom as promo-video material,
but the difference from song to song is moderate, and bias is always a matter of taste.
Osmose Productions, 25.02.16
Close to 20 years ago, Memnock formed the band Abyssic Dreams, which did not lead to more
than a demo recorded with Athera, former band-mate in several short-lived projects, and later in Susperia.
The desire to resume and pursue this musical inspiration eventually flared up anew for Memnock.
In 2012, shortly after André Aaslie debuted with Gromth, already fiddling with new orchestral
ideas, these two met in Athera's birthday party and started talking about their ideas. Voilà,
Vocalist, guitarist and bassist Memnock enlisted former colleague Elvorn (from
Susperia and more) as guitarist André's former writer-colleague from Scream Magazine,
Asgeir Mickelson (ex-Borknagar, Spiral Architect et al.) were quickly persuaded to
handle drums. Orchestral maestro André (the man behind Images At Twilight) has in addition to
programming and keyboards added some bass and vocals. I suppose the sharp grunting which sometimes creeps up on the
listener like a boiling mad Gollum from the sidelines, belongs to the man with the keys.
A Winter's Tale is a mammoth of a symphonic doom affair, the four songs fills the CD's playing time
to the brim with close to 80 minutes of music.
It's most natural to compare A Winter's Tale with Aaslie's two former bands, as the
symphonic aspect constitute a large and natural part of Abyssic's expression, but it doesn't feel quite
natural, as the inequalities are rather tangible.
The long and slow songs we encounter here have a touch of classical music meets death/doom. They even touch upon funeral
with its quiet and atmospheric, yet dramatic progression. Moods still don't quite belong within in the latter genre,
although the lyrics are dark. The most lethal aspect here is Memnocks wonderful deep growling that
stands in harmonious contrast to the soaring musical overtures and movements.
The music is reminiscent of dreamy classical music performed with guitar, bass, drums and guttural vocals as fully
integrated parts of a full orchestra. The only thing that occur as unnatural, but that still will come to merge with the
other elements, are the bright synthetic sounds from the synthesizer, which we first come in contact with just over a
minute into the title track.
As an alien life form from an unknown fourth dimension, only visual as a spectral sphere of light in our world, this
synthetic entity comes sailing through space. It communicates partly with body language consisting of alternating colours
and illumination, but primarily with frequencies that rises and falls like an astral variant of a slide whistle. It
emits the purest sinusoidal signals whilst utilizing overtone harmonic frequencies as a means of grammatical adjustments.
The album opens forcefully with reverberating distorted riffs and mighty rhythms before doomsday trumpets come in. The
music then moves through changing motifs, phrases, subjects and tone rows, as we recognize them from classical compositions.
The dreamy, slightly otherworldly moods and the majestic expression becomes frames around the musics surging variations.
As a form of tone painting, the music can provide the listener with mental images which admittedly don't necessarily
correspond to the actual lyrics.
My favourite song, even if they are all kept at a consistently high level, is the 23 minutes long closing song
The Silent Shrine. This has, amongst so much more, a simple but effective signature line that gives me goosebumps
at every encounter. I'm thinking of the part that is first played on piano at 5:08, before repeated on violin and that
reappears just before 14 minutes and around one and two minutes before the album fades out. The song has a gloomy feel,
and the first time this strong signature shows up, it's with mighty church organ in the background.
This gives an eerie mood, as when a wrongfully mistreated scientist finally decides to take revenge from his castle high
up on the mountainside somewhere in Central Europe. Our synthetic entity from the fourth dimension senses this at 10:40 into
the song, and has a disturbing revelation, where it clearly becomes distressed. Sure enough, when the song reaches 22:42,
bang! goes the planet. Than our entity flees through swirling ash and rising smoke before the dust settles.
This simplistic interpretation, however, becomes rather facetious compared to the ominous lyrics which in reality accompany
Initially I felt that A Winter's Tale lacked some of the strong hooks that all the well-known classical
works benefit from, but Abyssic have no need for catchy elements. The band builds strong and creepy moods
that requires a lot of time beyond the 79 minutes duration to really seat. A Winter's Tale consists of
majestic and dynamic orchestral metal in seamless unification with heavy death/doom. The production is rich, clear and
grandiose, and it is too fairly dynamic (DR8).
The album could have been the result of genetically cloning DNA from My Dying Bride, Septicflesh and
Monolithe. It may emerge as a test of patience, but the grand total comes to a morbid kingly embodiment. Patient
souls with a sense of lofty, otherworldly and dystopic moods will be richly rewarded by this successful encounter between
two creative souls at a birthday gathering.
Hear a brief medley below.
You may very well know of Italian Novembre if quiet, dreamy, floating atmospheric death/doom with hints
of gothic flair is a style you've been following for some years. But do you recall much their music?
The Italians probably had more than a hint of post-metal in their expression even before the term post-metal became widespread.
The band, currently operating as a duo, has 23 years experience, 26 if we count the early years under the name
Catacomb, and is now ready with their eighth album.
With URSA, short for Union des Républiques Socialistes Animales, the band is back after an
absence since 2007. Meanwhile, Giuseppe, one of the band's founding members, now drummer for amongst others
The Foreshadowing (who'll release a new album in two weeks), has retired from Novembre.
The title is the original French translation of George Orwell's novel Animal Farm. The British writer is known for an
allegorical critical view on society and totalitarian futuristic portrayals, like the famous work 1984. Vocalist etc.
Carmelo Orlando believes humanity is moving in a foreboding direction. Hence the title.
I liked the album Novembrine Waltz (2001), which had relatively good melodies and a fresh and new feel
to its transcendental work. It has nevertheless been completely forgotten over the years. The album was relaxingly designed,
but perhaps a little too toothless for my restless mind, though alternation of tranquil, meditative parts and more aggressive
sequences were fairly significant. URSA is also perceived as toothless, but this album has less contrast than the fifteen year old record.
The calm part has a slightly intense and obtrusive touch, and the whole becomes a bit monotonous. The music is fine, but
is mostly a bit too soft and poppy on my part. URSA reminds a bit of Alcest in the sound, but
is never nearly as interesting as the French at their best.
The music is basically serene, bordering on poppy, with dimmed clean vocals. A pleasing vocal that fits the band's style
despite a somewhat limited melodic register. At times, rougher metal parts with abrasive black hissing as vocals are brought
along, performed on such a monotonous way that it took quite some time to take notice of these departments from the quiet
trail. Most of the material floats from ear to ear, like a tender whisper or gentle breeze, but than fade away, and leaves
traces no more distinctive than last year's snow.
The exception is over nine minutes long Agathae, where Novembre let their most playful
and creative side loose. The song starts with some Irish folk feel, draped in melancholy veil. Stylishly innovation, where
the band brings in elements from outside, but retains its own signature. Via various transitions, the rest of the track
gains a dynamic, slightly progressive touch.
As if they suddenly found their inspiration, or is it just my interest that has aroused(?), the two remaining songs sounds
somewhat better than the previous tracks. In all fairness; there are many great sequences on the album, and several of the
early songs, as Umana and URSA has nice and memorable melody lines. A line here and a
section there does however not cover the requirement altogether.
The album might give a sense of hypnotic trance with bigger fans of stress-relieving music, but the attempted hypnosis
has little effect on me, and therefore I find these 65 minutes a bit tedious. In that sense it almost reminds me more of
Alcest's last album Shelter, which I disapproved two years ago. I'm pretty sure that this album could
have made a better 45-minute disc, if the Italians had trimmed some excessive debris and merged a few ideas.
The rating, a slightly weak three, suggests that URSA is not something I'll be returning to.
If the style appeals to you, you must find out for yourself if this might be something for you.
See the lyric video for Umana, or hear it along with Bremen below.
Agonia Records, 25.03.16 Ragnarok is known for residing on the Swedish border, both literally and figuratively. The band is based
in Sarpsborg in the southeasternmost part of Norway, and are to some extent compared with Swedish comrades as Marduk
and Dark Funeral, although they of course have a lot of Norwegian blood running in their veins too.
The Norwegian ancestry was perhaps particularly visible before the millennium shift, but Psychopathology
sees a turn toward a somewhat more Norwegianised style.
My first encounter with Ragnarok was Diabolical Age (2000), the band's third album and the last
album with original singer Thyme behind the microphone. This was followed by In Nomine Satanas
(2002), the only album with Lord Arcamous' vocal contributions, Taake's Hoest made his entry
on Black Door Miracle (2004). Then, six years went by from March 2004 to March 2010, when Svarttjern
singer HansFyrste had taken his place behind the microphone on Collectors of the King. We
still found him there when Malediction was released in October 2012.
All these singers have one thing in common; vocals sharp and treacherous as barbed wire.
Now, three and a half years later, Ragnarok got a new singer, but not a new member this time.
Jontho, who's played drums since the inception in 1994, has handed over the sticks to Malignant
(Dauded and more) and taken over vocal duties. Bolverk, which received his baptism of fire on
Malediction, still handles the guitar in what is now a trio. Former bassist DezeptiCunt, now in
Nordjevel and more, has volunteered as guest-bassist. (For your information, said band debuted earlier this year,
without yours truly having been lucky enough to lay his clammy fingers on a promo).
To suggest that Psychopathology offers a change of style would be to exaggerate. Ragnarok
is also known for both stability and quality. I will however argue that they've made a small alteration of their course.
Both within music and vocals.
Even Jontho's throat suggests a diet based largely on broken glass and rubble, but where the others
demonstrated horrific howls from a hitherto unknown horror genre, Jontho's harsh low frequency snarls
comes from the very bottom of the scrotum region. The psychological dubious vocals fits Psychopathology
very well. They would, however, not have suited Black Door Miracle as well.
The musical has this time generally toned down the inhuman pace a clue, and also added more melodic antics rather than the
classic full-throttle approach. It does of course not mean quiet mid-tempo with hummable choruses and singalong at this
year's Seventh-Day Adventist convention.
What it means in practical terms, is that Bolverk move his left hand to a greater extent, creating small
melodic loops, reef knots and clove hitches. Something the song Heretic can serve as a good example for.
No one outside of the realm of extreme metal, and scarcely anyone within, however, would even dream of calling the album
“melodious”, especially considering we don't find any typical continuous lines of melody.
The atmosphere Ragnarok conveys this time is, despite a step towards the somewhat more melody-driven
Norwegian angle, still not of an icy and unpleasant kind. Like several of the Swedish pioneers, the trio have found it
likely that the fires of hell in all probability are in fact hot by nature. Psychopathology don't communicate scaremongering, but rather a romanticizing view of the dominion of Hell,
where those of our kind are guests of honour forever, as in a hellish version of Valhalla, as if Dante and Snorri should
have embarked on a collaboration. The music puts the listener in the upper tribune of Lucifer festive hall, where every
seat is a throne, a chief worthy.
The sound also reflects this grand expression. The men has, as with the two previous albums, visited Marduk's
Devo, who have produced the album in Endarker Studio. It sounds, not surprisingly, merciless and
invincible as a glowing river of magma.
The band is, as always, professional in every aspect, but even if they do nothing in particular wrong, I have spent much
time and tried harder than should be required to enjoy Psychopathology more than I actually do. There's
a veil of familiar and safe over Ragnarok's eighth full-length album. Yes, they deliver the goods, but
besides from a little stylistic change to amplified guitar melodies and a bit more groovy midtempo, the guys don't offer
That is, few would actually expect surprises. Perhaps it is precisely this change I just wasn't ready for? Or can it
be that this album just ain't that good? Maybe it's the somewhat wayward feeling I get when the band neither
delivers freezing temperatures and biting disgust, nor red hot satanic explosions of pure barbaric heresy? The melodies
are generally not particularly exciting, and some chorus lines are even becoming dreary quite soon.
Whatever the reason, I can't seem to feel the same blasphemous warmth (or chill) as on previous occasion. Thus, this
isn't a damn good album. Still... I had high expectations, but when Ragnarok don't meet these
completely, it doesn't mean that the band allows themselves to be outperformed by just about anyone. The men naturally
still delivers solid craftsmanship and the results are indeed very audibly. Ragnarok still brings most
newcomers to their knees.
All in all I'd say Psychopathology is a fairly good album, although I'm still a little bit disappointed.
Thus “only” an alright four points to Sarpsborg's legendary bastard sons and guardians of the southeaster national border.
Dark Essence Records, 11.03.16
Some years have passed since this band from Bergen, Norway released their debut Cursed Madness in 2007,
and its sequel Thorns in Existence in 2009. Especially for me, since I missed out on the last one.
The smell of sulphuric acid may not be as pronounced as on the debut, but it will still subtly seep into your drafty mind.
The band has nonetheless never been the most infamous representatives of Lucifer's kingdom of flames, seething lava and
heart-rending screams of pain and agony.
The band plays death metal with black borderlines, garnished with technical and proglicious™ twists. They stand out
by bringing thorough songs and ditto instrumentation, with an occasional tricks up their sleeve, to the table. First and
foremost, the focus is on conveying good songs, but behind a veil of fairly intricate patterns that constantly
flavour Omens of Doom, lies delightful proggy structures which in turn offers unexpected turnarounds
here and there.
Øyvind Madsen, known from Vulture Industrie, Deathcon and more, is the mastermind
behind Sulphur. He is one of two guitarists, in addition to taking care of keyboards and programming.
I'm not going to bore the reader by listing all five members. The information is not hard to find for those who want, and
I can always bore you to death using other means. I must nevertheless specifically mention Vrolok, or
Erik as he simply calls himself now. Amongst other, he spent many a year in Aeternus, and he
hammered his way through Gorgoroth's Destroyer.... He's a highly skilled drummer, but he's no show-off.
My impression is that he provides what the music requires and deserves, without overdoing it, even though he's among the
most proficient drummers in Norways extreme metal scene. I've always had a taste for his deft rhythms, and this is no
exception. Omens of Doom is an album with many technical antics that needs all hands on deck. The entire crew
fortunately, but not surprisingly, know the ropes and helps set sail, come hell or high water. The, at times, practically
orgasmic guitar works must surely also be mentioned. And bassist Vegard does such a good job that he's
allowed to be heard in the mix, something not all bass players can boast about.
The album offers several vocal styles. I don't know whether or not Thomas Skinlo Høyven does all vocals,
but if so, he's a very versatile man. The primary form has changed somewhat since their debut, and now appears as reasonable
hoarse and wheezing. It took quite some time, but I eventually managed to get used to this somewhat quirky vocal form.
The vocal style used in the middle of Devils Pyre works excellent, by the way.
Pigeonholing Sulphur as death metal is a bit wrong. It is actually very wrong if one thinks
of traditional death metal. And how would the pigeons react? The band has a panoramic expression, with some stylistic
similarities to Aenaon, Enslaved, and many other good bands that I'm not able to remember.
There's so much to sink my teeth into that I become completely perplexed just by thinking about trying to convey their
essence. Lively, diverse, jazzy, gloomy, eclectic. Nevertheless, comprehensive and orderly.
Every songs could have been discussed separately, cause as said, there's a lot to comprehend, but it's time you listen
for yourself. Omens of Doom requires many spins to build compatibility between the album's labyrinthine
structures, and your mental receptors.
The album is incredibly elaborate, both in complex compositions and performances. Rich and clear sound with great thrust
and very good bass, ain't plagued by the dynamics not exceeding DR7. It may have to do with this airy and dynamic music
not being as intense in the first place. Enslaved's Herbrand Larsen has mastered the album, after the
recording in Conclave & Earshot Studios with Bjørnar E. Nilsen at the helm.
I feel like I circles like a vulture around this album, without finding the right words to convey what I observe. How do
you go about explaining that a carcass in the desert appear delicious? If, like me, you're a quality conscious vulture
with a taste for intricate and complex extremity, know this; this cadaver is just the right amount of rotten, and it has
its own distinctive odour and after-taste.
Try it, but be patient to gain full effect and benefit.
Debemur Morti Productions, 11.03.16
Finnish Draugnim released their first demo in 1999, and spent another three demos on establishing
their sound. It all started as a one-man project but soon escalated to a more or less stable crew.
After the last demo, the band was signed by Spikefarm before releasing their debut Northwind's Ire
in 2008. A swell piece of symphonically devised evocative Viking metal, mounted atop a foundations of atmospheric black/pagan.
Unfortunately I missed out on sophomore Horizons Low from 2010.
On Vulturine the band still creates epic, pagan Viking hymns with orchestral instruments. The members
thus hasn't changed its core expression noteworthy. Morior (founder and composer, guitarist and
keyboardist), Chimedra from Crimfall and formerly of Twilight Ophera (lyricist and
vocalist) and Turmes (lyricist and bassist) makes up the trio. In addition, they've borrowed Rainer
Tuomikanto, drummer in Shining and more.
At the first listen I was excited, but I deliberately kept my expectations restrained. The music seemed to measure up,
though. Nifty moods of Norse nature and harsh climates rolled like waves toward rocks and cliffs along the coastlines
of the North Sea, Skagerrak, Kattegat and the Baltic Sea.
By the third listen, however, a hint of scepticism started surfacing. Judas Priests, W.A.S.P., Bathory, Thyrfing, Falkenbach, Bach, Beethoven and Vivaldi, just to mention a tiny
selection, all have some wonderful consistently and cleverly structured melodies which form the basis for, and the
backbone of strong and memorable songs - timeless works.
Was it perhaps possible that Draugnim in comparison had created music that could be seen as rather
monotonous and aimless? Vulturine is wonderful, and melodic, but the melodies are not of the same
unified and coherent themes, and neither complemented by an equivalent kind of unmatched character.
Critical thinking is a good thing, but than again, preferably with moderation in all things. To expect overwhelming
large-scale compositions would likely be excessively demanding. Draugnim's melody choices have a more floating atmospheric feel, where extensive moods in songs ranging
from 6.5 to 9 minutes is prioritized higher than the sort of melodies and structures found in classic metal as well as
in classical symphonies. The music can be said to be directional, but thick fog make navigation impossible and a burdened
mood of despondency is spreading among the crew. Lost at sea, a sense of isolation and perplexity prevails. But the captain
does not give up. He shalt not be doomed, he whom hath a sturdy spirit of good cheer.
What Draugnim lack of a “singalong friendly” coherency, they make up for with buckets of emotional moods.
After an increasing number of journeys through Vulturine, my critical points fade. The music grows into
something, maybe not larger than, but at least as large as traditional melodies. Here you'll finds epic, dreamy spheres,
with an aura of Bathory. There's admittedly lots of hectic and intense riffing and drumming, along with extreme
vocals, sounding like a wounded animal, in the foundation, but the soaring atmospheric touch makes the music appear less
extreme than what instrumentation and vocals would otherwise have done. The music has, however, a rather intense character.
Fortunately, the production ain't as intense (DR7-DR8), and as expected, it sounds good.
The musics dreamy quality rubs off, and it can be easy to just drift away. I have probably heard Vulturine
about 15 times. I have just as likely fallen into reverie and forgotten about concentrated listening several of those times.
Ain't that a shameless psychological tricks to prolong the longevity of the music?
I hear this album again and again. Is it because I forget to concentrate and have to start all over? Is it because I think
it's marvellous even though these melodies don't have the same purposeful feel as various classics?
When all is said and done, it's nevertheless one aspect relating to music which overcomes all of them. The
subjective question “Do I enjoy listening to this?”. The answer is clearly yes! I revel in Vulturine.
The atmospheres are melancholic and alluring, and the instrumentation is impeccable. It wouldn't have damaged the album
to contain a wee bit more systematic structuring and diversity, but that's just nitpicking, really. The album
is touching on five points, and it is quite possible that the grading is unnecessary strict.
Here you can hear the two songs made public thus far, As In Hunger, So In Demise and
A Passage In Fire.
EDIT 12.03.16: Everythin streaming since yesterday!
Obscure Abhorrence Productions, 29.02.16
National borders are not to be found on the metal map, and neighbouring feuds has been toned down since metal's black
sheep brought misanthropy and hostility, and put the last nail in the coffin for metal's brotherhood in the nineties.
Some minor territorial disputes may exist, but first and foremost we are fortunate to have something we can call regional
Norway, Sweden, France, Iceland and Greece, in particular, steals a lot of the attention, but no true necro-orthodox
heathens should even think of omitting Canada's “French Quarter” from the equation.
The province of Quebec has a few hundred active black metal bands to offer. How many who swear to Québécois métal
de noir is another matter. At least, it's been a while since I last discussed black metal with Quebec's distinctive
bouquet. Hardly anything during the timespan of which I've been translating my reviews. (Only
Grimoire, that didn't really have the same odour, and
Ether, that just didn't sit very well with me).
The region's distinct aroma is typically characterized by a distinctive blend of primitive savagery and evocative
atmospheres. The crucible comprises scornful necrotic lo-fi and puritanical obscurantism à la LLN
(Les Légions Noires), added bewitching, malicious and ominous mood à la vintage Norwegian
black metal and some landless soaring atmospheric flair and a good dash of tristesse. Sorcier des Glaces' compositions have always been characterized by beautiful but gloomy, atmospheric
moods, yet executed with harsh razor-sharp, raspy guitars and rasping hateful vocals that create extra eeriness. The
band defines their own style as Cold Primitive Metal.
North opens melancholic and lofty before gritty and distorted signature guitars makes their entrance.
As always, the band masters the delicate balance between the atmospheric and necrotic, the primitive and the professional.
Sébastien Robitaille handles bass, guitar and vocals in cold and dismal ways, while Luc Gaulin
in seasoned manners takes care of the somewhat intricate percussion. To pick out just one song that
really conveys the duo's ability to compose good songs, turns out to be just as difficult as it is unnecessary. One song
after the other display soaring moods that rises above the majestic snow-covered forests and mountains, while a dystopian
feeling at the same time resounds from crevices and gaps in the mountains. Something song titles (To the)
Snow-Crowned Mountains and Dawn of the Apocalypse can testify to.
Necrotic and primitive sound after year 2k often sounds feigned, but in the hands of Quebec's elite, with bands like
Forteresse, Sombres Forêts, Neige Et Noirceur, Csejthe and of course Sorcier des Glaces in
forefront, it sounds credible and authentic. A European band that probably unintentionally have touched upon some of
the same is German Nocte Obducta on their marvellous Schwarzmetall (Ein Primitives Zwischenspiel).
North's magnum opus (closely followed by the first two songs, and Dawn of the Apocalypse),
is the over eight minutes long title track. After a few minutes introductory playing, the instruments are toned down,
allowing for beautiful moods, before the vocals come in. The only item more sharp and rasping than the guitar is the
vocals, performed with frozen blue lips and a frosty breath of sea smoke. When the words “In A Land, Where Darkness Rises
- In A Land, Where The Dawn Comes In Black - In The North, In The Kingdom Of Eternal Frost” reverberates between icy
rock façades, a pristine vista of ice and snow comes into sight. So beautiful a view to behold, so unmercifully fatal
a chill to be exposed to.
As penultimate song Sorcier des Glaces so fittingly wraps the Obtained Enslavement song
Witchcraft into a layer of ice crystals.
Sorcier des Glaces, or sorcerers of ice in English, now set out to freeze our celestial sphere
with their fifth album, or sixth if we count Snowland MMXII, the becomingly improved remake of the debut.
It's tempting to enthusiastically conclude that the Canadians have outdone themselves, but one should not underestimate
their earlier exploits either. Yet that's how I feel right now, that both majestic and chilling song-material, professional
performance and dirty sound with solid thrust fits like a knuckle buster. And just to mention it; no synthesizers was used
(nor harmed) in the recording and production of North. This is an epitome when it comes to illustrating
that an atmospheric back walls can be created with just guitar and bass. Quite a few '90s releases could have learned from
this, but I guess it's wee bit late now.
The lion's share works excellently on North, but not every songs and fraction holds the same high
calibre. Especially La Noirceur Éternelle and Storming from Beyond take a back-seat in
terms of splendour. Therefore “only” a strong five of six points to a magnificent, stalwart, mighty and hypnotic album.
Godz Ov War Prod.&Third Eye Temple, 27.02.16
Polish Mussorgski operates within a form of symphonic black metal, with industrialised undertones,
techno-tinged fixtures, and an outer-worldly, ambient touch.
The band was created in 1990, named after Modest Mussorgski (1839-1881), one of the big Russian composers.
Mussorgski was put on ice after the debut in 1995, but was revitalized in 2009.
On the third album we witness an ethereal and sometimes mechanized mixture that despite of a vital and diverse musical
expression is very dark at heart.
A heavy orchestral veil lies and weigh over already dismal and mid-tempo black metal in the first song Gaaya -
The Planet of the Dead, but in the next, God Is in the Neurons, the pace is lowered, and remote
clusters gradually comes into sight. After a brief interlude, appropriately named Stellar Core, the
astral journey continues with gorgeous, cosmic melodies, soon flanked by fierce black metal.
Sabbathum in Perpetuum, timeless rest, an eternal spiritual journey. The album, and this song in particular,
makes me think of Malta-based Apotheosis, which had some of the same musical expression on his debut. Also Below
the Sun, the Russians who made a concept album based on the Voyager expedition, becomes a natural association. During
the albums I can also pick up a few elements in vain with Alien Syndrome 777.
Space is a dark, cold, silent and lifeless place. It is very little pleasurable, but rather desolate and lonely. A restless
mood of eeriness stalk the music incessantly. The ominous feeling of discomfort don't let go until the album is finished, and
even barely then, at least if Khorzon could get his will. Mussorgski is namely this Poles
personal horror cabinet. He has invited a few guests, though. Marita has written lyrics to the first song, while
Odo adds vocals on Implanted Conciousness and Ronve contributes with his voice on five songs.
Said Voyager is by the way not half as far out as the lyrics on Creatio Cosmicam Bestiae, but I'm not getting
into that. It culminate however in the last song, where the lyrical message is loud and clear; kill yourself and your children.
Macabre and morbid!
After one last interlude we land in inhumane areas, a futuristic society in ruins, where mechanical piles of rust controlled
by micro-controllers are kept alive by nanobots with a hostile view on carbon based life forms. Implanted Conciousness
is Mussorgski at its most techno-based, something that continues some way into the final
Paradisum, before atmosphere and hints of operatic vocals draw us into a more humane direction, despite inhuman poetry.
The dynamics, by a narrow margin, tilts from DR7 to DR8 on average, something we must be able to define as absolutely approved.
The album was recorded, mixed and mastered in Church of Chaos Multimedia, which seems to be Khorzon's
own studio, in 2014/2015. The sound fits the albums occasionally majestic expression well, and also passages of more celestially
soaring or heavier industrial art comes into its own right. In some ways it smells a bit of one-man band in execution and sound,
but still of a detailed and thorough character. This is not some sloppy bedroom project.
Khorzon has composed, arranged and recorded all of the instruments, and the main vocals. He has embarked on
an elaborate project, but he has succeeded. There are indeed some passages that doesn't suit me just as much, but overall this
is a piece of intricate work that deserves recognition.
Creatio Cosmicam Bestiae's only officially available song, Paradisum, can be streamed here,
or you can see the video. Check out the two previous albums on Bandcamp as well, if you want to. The debut, In Harmony with the
Universe (1995), sounds quite dated, but Chaos and Paranormal Divinity (2011) seems promising.