Anti - The Insignificance of Life

27 de dez de 2009

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Anti - The Insignificance of Life

If there’s one thing I hate about my own reviews, it’s that editing one’s own work is incredibly hard. Just when I thought I wrote something perfectly, and I edited out all the sentences that don’t make sense, the misspelled words and common grammatical errors, I’ll skim by a post that’s been up for a day or too, and then argh! How does Cosmo Lee get it right posting the first time?! To those people wondering why they see mistakes in my work, I hope this sheds a bit of light on the situation. That and probably the lack of sleep.
This marks my last raw black metal review from the Obscure Abhorrence package I got, and I think I’ve saved the best for last. This time, the treble-label guitars aren’t so washed out and completely weakened by lack of midrange or bass. True, they contain very little of anything resembling bass, but the do at least contain a hinting of midrange to add a slight bit more power, and they’re clear! There’s the odd clean tone in most of the songs which really provides a good break to the action. I can also hear an actual bass hiding in there! The drum machine used seems like it’s been recorded and tweaked to the point to match real drums in both playing style and tuning (although drum machines can never get that high-hat sound right). In fact, the production actually doesn’t seem so bad, which is why the distorted vocals coming from that abandoned mineshaft actually seem a bit out of place.

The title song on this EP might open up quickly, but the rest of “The Insignificance Of Lift” is slow and depressing. Sure it’s full of tremolo picked chords to the point where if you hear a distorted guitar, that’s all that’s being played, but they’re done to a point where there’s a hint of something catchy flowing underneath everything. ANTI doesn’t quite work their wares to sound like a mixture of doom and black metal, but I think the suicidal point is driven home.

Original review at http://www.metalinjection.net/

Depressive Black Metal, Germany
Full-length, Obscure Abhorrence Productions
January 18th, 2006

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Teutoburg Forest - Chao Ab Ordo

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Teutoburg Forest - Chao Ab Ordo

Black Metal, Experimental
, UK
Full-length, Self
2008

Thyrfing - Hels Vite

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Thyrfing - Hels Vite

In true Viking fashion, Sweden's Thyrfing have soldiered on despite massive lineup changes and uncertainty over the band's future. Latest effort Hels Vite reflects this, cloaking the band's epic and militant sound in the shadows of night. Like a longboat braving treacherous waters, Hels Vite is powerful and brawny, an exemplar of Viking metal's stark majesty.

For starters, metalheads seeking more boisterous fare a la Turisas will quickly realize Vite navigates choppier seas. Clocking in at a hefty 51 minutes, it is also an arduous journey. Avoiding the borderline self-parody of other Viking metal bands, Thyrfing instead cuts a path through the competition with an effort sounding graceful yet violently confident.

Opening cut "En Sista Litania," for example, offers ample proof Vite is wrought in the spirit of hardship and challenge. A melancholy guitar chord runs like a cold water current through the ocean, the pounding riffs flowing again and again like waves. Leading a war chant, the band next launches into stomping metal, rife with blistering riffing and elegantly fingerpicked notes. By song's end, the whole concoction erupts into battle, emerging as a gripping piece of prime Viking metal.

"Frân Stormens Öga," meanwhile, further bear hugs the genre with muscular riffs stretched into a gloomy march of sound. Like a handcrafted battle axe, its simplistic violence works wonders. From soaring choruses sang by the entirety of the band to keyboard washes which chill the pounding metal, "Frân" is one mighty anthem.

Up next is "Isolation," a rousing number which immediately charges through passages of epic metal. Ghostly choirs spar with steely guitars and meticulously devastating percussion, producing an atmosphere of battle under wintry skies. The stark howls constituting the vocals are the icing on the cake, recreating the lonely independence of the warrior in combat.

After this, the album's title track begins with a swirling vortex not unlike a whirlpool. As it progresses, the music evolves into a patient, plodding waterfall of sound, replete with cascades of falling riffs and mournful wails. Bursting from the turbulent seas is a delicate series of guitar notes, soon eradicated in a firestorm of crushing metal. Ending with a moody swell of ambience, "Vite" captures the resoundingly fierce emotions of the album bearing its name.

"Griftefrid" continues along the path of brutality, laying waste with hammering riffs and wild shrieks. Cutting through the song's dense rhythmic crush is an ethereal chorus, drifting upwards like a pagan prayer. Compelling and beautiful, it creates a particularly smashing finale, leaving listeners breathless.

Thankfully, "Becoming the Eye" immediately presents a respite. Tribal drums snake their way through a churning bass line, producing an atmosphere more in line with Tool than Amon Amarth. When all Hell breaks loose, however, the song reveals complex tremolo-melodies sounding worthy of Enslaved. The end result is a labyrinthine rocker, full of twists and turns.

Last but not least is the cold splendor of "Tre Vintrar - Tvâ Solar." Frosty piano keys wind through gloomy bass notes, instantly creating an atmosphere of darkest winter. Interestingly enough, the song never leaves this mournful morass, ending the album on a sinister note not unlike unexpected death on the field of slaughter.

If there is one gripe I have hosted towards Viking metal, it is how the genre rarely conjures up the appropriate image of Viking culture. Always absent are the isolations of the nomadic lifestyle, the joy and sorrow of war and the evil of earlier ages, blatantly unkind towards all men. Dark, harsh and vast in scope, Hels Vite captures these emotions perfectly. Thyrfing remain champions of Viking metal, and Hels Vite will go down in history as one more crown jewel, albeit a little bit murkier than the rest.


by Mark Hensch in
http://www.rocknworld.com/thrashpit/

Viking Metal, Sweden
Full-length, Regain
October 22nd, 2008

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Undivine - A Deceitful Calm

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Undivine - A Deceitful Calm

It’s finally here, the debut album by Undivine. It was ages ago since I first heard they were recording it, and it’s been delayed for reasons unknown to me. Delayed for so long that they’ve even had time to record their second album before the first one even got released. Let’s hope that one doesn’t take as long to hit the streets.

Compared to their demo "A deceitful calm" has got a slightly more melodic edge to it. And the vocals have also changed a bit, sounding much like those of Sacramentum; meaning harsh and raw screams with an undertone of gurgle, hehe. Sacramentum would also be a fair comparison music-wise, if you blend in Dissection and a touch of Lord Belial.

Undivine is a collection of seriously talented lads, as some riffs are almost orgasmic. The entire song "In lust and disgust" is one long set of mesmerizing riffage, combined with trance-inducing vocals. The tunes are so skillfully written it’s extremely hard to believe it’s a debut. And no matter the speed I’m always nodding and stomping along. And speaking of speed, I’m surprised to have some of their slower material as favourites, like for instance "In lust and disgust" and "Catholic". However, I’m in no way negative towards their killer blasting counterpart "The cleansing", which possesses an amazing guitar solo.

The musicianship is flawless, as well as the full and warm sound of the recording. The only thing I don’t like about this album is the spoken vocals in the beginning of "My silence", as it has some form of metalcore-ish vibe about it. But trust me, this is an album of powerful melodic death/black metal.

Originally written for http://www.mylastchapter.net

Black/Death Metal, Sweden
Full-length, Aural Offerings Records
June 20th, 2008

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Walknut - Graveforests and Their Shadows

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Walknut - Graveforests and Their Shadows

Pure, unadulterated, raw, atmospheric. I would leave the review at that. Nothing else. But that is not doing it justice. This is so awe-inspiring and the impression this Russian duo's first release leaves is so indelible that I have to fight the urge to leave the review at "amazing".

«Graveforests and Their Shadows» is one of the strongest and most depressive releases to hit black metal in a very long time. Pulling the doom inspired ten-minute drones, Walknut's first release, at only six tracks (two could be considered an intro and outro, though not labeled as such), will leave your eyes watering and body covered in goosebumps. I do not get this emotional about anything. I cannot do this album justice with my trite words. Listen to it. If there is any fiber of your being that yearns for something new, mournful, bleak, completely encompassing, overwhelming and graceful... go listen. I will not liken them to any previous works, although they liken themselves to black metal giants Burzum and Strid.

Stringsskald and Ravnaskrik have made a masterpiece here and I will say that without hesitation. Epic and raw with interludes of the blackest vocals. Evoking an image of a fir grove in the December moonlight on the harsh Russian steppe, glowing after a fresh snow fall. Amazing. They have set the bar high with this as their first release, and featuring members of Temnozor and Forest, I don't think we could have expected much less.

Original review at http://www.chroniclesofchaos.com/reviews/

Atmospheric Black Metal
, Russia
Full-length, Stellar Winter Records
April 24th, 2007

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Purest - Renascence

26 de dez de 2009

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Purest - Renascence

Intense and dangerous dose of freezing blackened metal in 90´s devotion and recycling of typical gestures and aggression. Raw, but not excessively dependant on extra lo-fi non-production to hide lack of talent or ability to create darkness around, by music itself, not necessarily the way it is recorded.

What may seem like not much more than a copy of certain tendencies within extreme metal grows with successive auditions, specificity and cohesion along the entire recording becomes evident. Not that those influences are disguised or hidden, they are clear and clearly assumed. “Nekrolog” resembles in a direct way “Black Ash Snowfall” by USBM big name Krieg, itself a revisitation of northern black metal via brutality and minimalism, and there could be much more examples where the roots could be traced from the exhaustion of some structures, melodies or themes evoked, be it the typical Norwegian morbidity or some more extreme, elitist images and words (Darker Than Black is known for having released material from such names as Thor´s Hammer or Kristallnacht in the past, although I don´t believe that is essential for the review itself).

Less dependent on velocity, in comparison to the previous example, or some of those elder names here exhumed, but with enough rhythmic variations and adjustment of ideas, to keep an interest on the dynamics here proposed, even if most of its music dwells around a riff or variation of that riff. Melodic, but savage and piercing, blending the blood with the might.

Not particularly original, but done with such devotional style that makes most of the clichés sound as genuine doses of musical and semi-mythological revisitations of an era. Cold and grim, but still powerful and well-executed, modern, but never sounding forced to contemporacy.

Original review at http://www.heathenharvest.com/

Black Metal, Germany
Full-length, Darker Than Black
January 2008

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Skagos - Ást

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Skagos - Ást

Black Metal, Canada
Full-length, Eternal Warfare
March 30th, 2009

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Orlog - Elysion

8 de dez de 2009

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Orlog - Elysion

Black Metal, Germany
Full-length, Det Germanske Folket
October 24th, 2008

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Endstille - Navigator

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Endstille - Navigator

Black Metal, Germany
Full-length, Twilight-Vertrieb
August 1st, 2005

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Ruins (Aus) - Cauldron

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Ruins (Aus) - Cauldron


This is the new Ruins album, nominally a Black Metal unit from Hobart Tasmania, who have paved a path for themselves that strays past the majority of the local BM underground. For this as well as the general uneasiness with which the Black and Death Metal scenes eye each other, I think their work has been panned by the Black Metallers, myself including. And whilst previous efforts had some moments of a questionable quality, which may have justified a dismissal, I must admit that listening to them now, I cannot wholeheartedly do so as that would be an unfair manner in which to treat on this artist’s, as a whole, compelling work.
Firstly, the Black Metal generalization is inaccurate. Undeniably, BM is the basis, but there are too many elements here that originate in jazz or rock to label this band purely a BM one and so misrepresent what they are trying to do here. Secondly the album sounds much more solid due to Ruins having finally located a formula for reconciling the showy drums and the weird guitars, with neither struggling for attention at the forefront and instead taking their own place in the mix.

There is an odd strumming/picking technique that is used in conjunction with some of the drifting song structuring on Cauldron, and I cannot say I have heard it elsewhere. It was present on previous works and whilst it immediately distinguished the band from contemporaries, I think at times it was overdone. This album employs just enough of it to make the songs sound strangely atmospheric with obscure structures propelling the pieces through climax to completion. There is also very pleasing use of downstroke guitar and linear (as opposed to syncopated) rhythmic patterns that remind me of Darkthrone and in conjunction with the groaned vocals – new Celtic Frost. In parts this is a very rocky album and will provide you with some headbanging pleasure when done live.

The lyrics still annoy me a bit. The style is sparse and allegorical, but this usually results in their meaning being too close to meaninglessness, although there is some interesting correlation of Egyptian and Sumerian mythology to the Bible as well as just stark poetic passages that contribute to the overall detached and gloomy atmosphere on this album.

I think that in terms of purism, this works shines not, but having forgotten about that and Celtic Frost, one can find a lot to enjoy here. I recommend it to fans of modern Black Metal.

Originally published in Procession of Black Doom zine #2

Black Metal, Australia
Full-length, Debemur Morti Productions
March 1st, 2008

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Trayjen - Walking among the stones of fire

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Trayjen - Walking Among the Stones of Fire

Surrealistic Black Metal, USA
Full-length, Flamme Noire
May 25th, 2008

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Odal - Zornes Heimat

6 de dez de 2009

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Odal - Zornes Heimat

Pagan Black Metal, Germany
Full-length, Christhunt Productions
June 2008

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Steingrab - Reise ins Ungewisse

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Steingrab - Reise ins Ungewisse

Atmospheric Black Metal, Germany
Full-length, Wolfsgrimm Rec.
July 25th, 2009

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Totalselfhatred - Totalselfhatred

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Totalselfhatred - Totalselfhatred

With members from prominent bands like Horna and Pest, Totalselfhatred have rained down from Finland in 2005 to bring depressive black doom with melodious guitars, vibrant bass lines, resounding drums and vocal melding to all. Now, but three years later, these moody fellows master the whole somber ambiance with the biting coldness of abandonment and anguish shtick on self-titled “Totalselfhatred”.


An echoing and light piano/guitar coupling travels through the soothing “Enlightenment” softly, gracefully contrasting the black metal screams and strong bass beats. The guitar parts are quite airy and the vague synthesizers are graciously not overpowering. “Sledgehammer Heart” consists of more dramatic heights as the drums and guitars seem to have more of a peal to them while the piano is rather hidden. On “Spirituelle Equilibrium” amazing and smooth clear vocals shine in the form of a low voice and a higher, more chorus-like tone still with crazed screams wavering between groans and raspy cries. The intense pulsating, intravenous instruments work very well with the melancholy atmosphere of “Totalselfhatred.” A change from the pretty repetitive flows, “Mighty Black Dimensions” and its blazing guitars play more in the black metal stream. Tracks are also becoming longer too, surpassing the seven minute mark. “Carving” is also superbly more black metal than the previous offerings and adds a nice volt to the ears as rougher feelings emerge in the end.


No overblown keyboarding resting upon depressive black doom chalking up a sedative lumbering with full bass-lines and strong production. “Totalselfhatred” is surprising for a debut full-length following behind one 3-song promo two years earlier. Amped up production doesn’t erase the raw atmosphere of “Totalselfhatred,” but does do a better job at showing off this band’s gleam.

Original review at: http://metal-archives.com/

Depressive black metal, Finland
Full-length, Ordo Decimus Peccatum
June 25th, 2008

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Wigrid - Die Asche Eines Lebens

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Wigrid - Die Asche Eines Lebens

Black Metal
, Germany
Full-length, No Colours Records
June 16th, 2005
The Digipack CD is limited to 1000 copies

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Lantlôs - Lantlôs

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Lantlôs
- Lantlôs

It sounds rather clichéd, but as I was walking home at night recently, I passed by a cemetery, tombstones wrapped up in fog like a blanket, protecting the spirits of the dead from the evil of the living. This eerie backdrop was the setting for the debut of Lantlôs, a German black metal band, likened to bands such as Alcest (perhaps unjustly), whom are adored by numerous members of the listening public. This self-titled debut, which came out this year (2008), is a remarkably mature piece of work. I expected from this a highly primitive black metal act, reminiscent of other German black metal bands like Sterbend and Wigrid who, whilst being undeniably strong, are often adaptations of the work of Burzum. Lantlôs, on the other hand, are not an adaptation of any band I can think of. Whilst their music will undoubtedly establish some connections between themselves and other remarkable acts across the globe, their sound has a fresh appeal, leading to me believing that this self-titled effort is a tremendous and emotively charged outing. Records like this demand respect and should justifiably given it. The accessibility of this record is important to it’s marketable value. The distortion, which is present the majority of the time, isn’t too heavy and doesn’t overpower enough to limit the success of this record. Production value has a lot to do with this. The production allows the abiding aggression to ease it’s way into the picture, as opposed to forcibly inserting itself into it. The production is clean enough to give the bass room to breath, which is important to the instrumentation and the free flowing melancholic vibe that persists amid the classy construction of songs.

Whether we’re dealing with the majestic ‘Ëin’, or the superbly submissive effort, ‘Kalte Tage’, Lantlôs are a commanding, imperative and imperious act, establishing a diversely mature sound through solid musicianship and brilliant song structures which develop well the soundscapes that are ever present. Bands like this come along once in a lifetime. This isn’t to say that Lantlôs provides the listener with a truly unique offering, differing from the majority of it’s class, but it does provide a thoroughly enjoyable journey through the hidden realms subtlety. The commanding nature of this record is incredibly important to the outlook of the record, as a whole, in hindsight. Despite the fact that most people claim that every sound has been achieved within the genre, leading to a lacklustre influx of directionless and disappointing bands, Lantlôs provide, as stated, a fresh take on a sound that has become somewhat popular over recent years within the black metal scene. There are often debates as to whether or not Lantlôs incorporate various sub-genres of metal, and outside influences into their music. First, there are those who claim that Lantlôs are primarily a depressive black metal act, supported by the heavy down trodden distortion of both guitars, which produce highly depressive soundscapes and relentless rasping vocal work and second, there are those who claim there is a post-rock vibe coursing throughout the records veins, due to the slightly progressive nature of the music. I suppose, to an extent, one can understand the argument, particularly when taking songs like ‘Kalte Tage’ into consideration, with it’s formidable use of two guitars, interchanging and interlocking riffs which soar to abysmally bleak heights, as well as largely successful bass lines, which draw out the emotions of the listener like a hermit from it’s home.

Personally, I see Lantlôs as a specific black metal band, shown in songs like ‘þinaz Andawlitjam’, but meshed with slight experimentation, shown in the acoustic instrumental track, ‘Ëin’, which is simplistic and subtle in it‘s display of beauty and contrasted sorrow. Black metal is a genre that has slowly but surely developed hints of an avant-gardé nature. Elements like acoustics, a bass section in the foreground and sparse vocals which allow instrumentation to portray most of the music’s ideologies are finding their way into black metal. Lantlôs are one of these acts who’re trying and succeeding with ease to change the perceptions of black metal, as a global force. Much of the instrumentation is accessible, as stated. This allows often overshadowed elements, like bass, to be fully appreciated in the context of the record. The bass is used as an underlay to the work in which the guitars produce. It, effectively, produces a base for the guitars to build upon, much like a foundation for a house. All elements come together with inspired ease and swift simplicity. Although, as stated, this record doesn’t lean towards the most experimental side of the spectrum, there is enough experimentation, in all areas, to keep listeners interested throughout. Songs like ‘Kalte Tage’, with it’s melancholic lead guitars build a monument to the modernisation of black metal. Times are changing and Lantlôs are changing with it, not against it. For fans of the changing modern scene.

Original review at: http://metal-archives.com/

Black Metal/Post-rock, Germany
Full-length, ATMF Records
September 22nd, 2008

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Ne Obliviscaris - The Aurora Veil

9 de out de 2009

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Ne Obliviscaris - The Aurora Veil

On a global scale, Australia has been home to mostly lacklustre bands in recent years who offer little considerably unique in the metal field, with the exception of a handful of bands such as The Amenta, Elysian Blaze and a few others. This period may be drawing to a close, for a new band has emerged quite unlike any other before it from Australia or anywhere else in the world.

Gathering a cult following before even releasing this, their first demo (initially slated to be their debut EP), Ne Obliviscaris hail from Melbourne, a city renowned for its deep culture of music and the arts. Such a rich environment provides a natural backdrop for the short history of these young highly talented musicians.

"The Aurora Veil" opens with explosive drumming courtesy of Daniel 'Mortuary' Presland, and tightly executed Black Metal, puncutated with Xenoyr's slicing, sharp snarls. Don't become too too comfortable with this - only a handful of bars in, there is an unexpected turn: blossoming colours of timechanging and arpeggiated structures arrive akin to the heralding of a new Spring season, accentuated by a Pizzicato (plucking of a violin), before taking a short return to the frenzied Black Metal basis, however this time framed by Xenoyr's Death Metal growls and a strong falsetto (executed so beautifully that one could mistake it for a female midrange register) by violinist and clean vocalist Tim Charles.

Only one and a half minutes into one song, and already the band has combined three different styles into their composition while firmly providing strong colours throughout their delivery. This very trait provides a (paradoxically) simple, basic expression to the Ne Obliviscaris musical character, for what is to come is unique in Black Metal, or any style of metal for that matter.

Movements of almost Bach-like nature (think along the lines of "Works for Lute BWV 995-997"), voiced with a flamenco tongue herald sweeping violin bowstrokes, evoking a weeping, emotionally saturated dirge. It's difficult trying to keep your eyes dry during these sections of the recording. The technique is a powerful emotional tool, executed like few bands have the capability to do. When one expects to hear it again in another song, it is perhaps voiced through a blend of almost gypsy-like folk, which melds into metal. Truly ingenious, highly creative and unpredictable.

These movements, however, unveil the definitive and unqiue character of Ne Obliviscaris' music: the inclusion of violin is nothing new in Metal: one of the most famous bands to use violins was none other than My Dying Bride, and the instrument has since been taken up by countless cloned gothic doom bands since. None however, have used the instrument's voice in its true virtuosic form and this is exactly what Ne Obliviscaris have achieved here, and for what could be the first time in Metal history. Instead of the two virtuso being guitarists, one is instead a violinist. The result is a beautiful and vibrant spectra of pale colours, combined with a powerful shift back and forth between virtuoso violin and guitars. It is mindnumbing at how effective this method is, how natural it sounds.

A wise young friend said to me recently, that most bands, especially at their humble beginnings, have a weak link - be it songwriting, musicianship, or dedication. With Ne Obliviscaris there is truly none. The only thing which can possibly come close is the (barely) audible trait of a bands' youth but that is all. Given their upcoming album, it is highly conceivable that any trace of youthful songwriting will disappear quickly, to be replaced by the more evolved version of the already powerful maturity and depth that the band exhudes.

Each member of the band is a master of their instrument. Both guitarists, Matt Klavins and Corey King, play emotionally, aggressively, and classically. Bassist Brendan 'Cygnus' Brown's playing covers a large range of his fretboard, evident in diverse structures throughout the songs, and he also plays with blistering speed in the opening song "Tapestry Of The Starless Abstract". Drummer Daniel 'Mortuary' Presland's playing is perhaps the most solid Black Metal styled drumming heard yet from an Australian band, he handles timechanges and consistency of speed with great confidence. These musicians, along with Xenoyr and Tim Charles, combine to form a band of formidable unity and strength, and the best part of their journey is that it has only just begun.

"The Aurora Veil" is a stunning commencement to what will surely be an amazing forthcoming career. There is no doubt that Ne Obliviscaris will lead Australia's metal reputation to great heights in the coming years, and I, among many others, will watch with wide eyes for this band to ascend to the Pacific metal throne on the back of this stunning and beautiful debut release.

Original review at: http://metal-archives.com/

Progressive Black Metal, Australia
Demo, Self-Released
April 21st, 2007

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Thorngoth - Rauhnacht

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Thorngoth - Rauhnacht

Germans Thorngoth have improved from Thelema of Destruction, this being their second album. Eight hymns of foreboding yet triumphant black metal, about as pure as you can get before being crushed into dust. Original they are not, but they have sharpened this blade to a fine edge.

"Curse Them" begins with a crushing wall of hostility, then collapses into a mid-paced Bathory groove with a tasteful lead. "Kill for Paradise" alternates between blasting black punk and slower, discordant Norse riffing. "Schiachperchten" has a savage yet longing bridge. "Der Wanderer" is your perfectly pure, mid-paced black metal glory. "Nihilistic Visions" begins with an acoustic lick, then an evil, driving track worthy of Marduk or Dark Funeral. "Salvation in Silence" is beautiful, with subtle leads, my favorite on the album after the first few listens. The final track "Still, von Ewigkeit" is a longing, slower piece, somber and fulfilling.

In the end, Rauhnacht oozes class. The album sounds fantastic, a balanced mix fully expressed in both the rhythm and leads. Akhorahil has a suitably daemonic rasp to marinate each track in evil. Yet, one can't help but feel that the album overall also emanates a profound sorrow. Along with recent Lunar Aurora, Dark Fortress, Eternity, Wolfsschrei, and others, one can't help but feel Germany is developing the most potent black metal scene in the world.

Originally written by AUTOTHRALL for "From the Dust Returned" Blog

Black Metal, Germany
Full-length, Folter Records
2008

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Wolfhetan - Entruckung

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Wolfhetan - Entruckung

Wolfhetan’s debut album Entrückung is a rare little gem perhaps a bit rough or uneven for the general listener and hence woefully overlooked. In general it seems that often the metal scene and its various adherents routinely overlook that which is serene and monumental in epic austerity. Often the best pagan metal bands are overshadowed by those that strike out to be more KVLT, more Viking, more technical masturbatory, or what have you, but it is the simple yet momentous elements that made the early work of Drudkh, Gorgoroth and even Ulver legendary.

Having read a few reviews of this magnanimous record elsewhere, I could not help but think that the reviewers were caught between ending one video game and getting the next to fill their ADHD prattled existences. Those kind of people who demand to be “wowed” at ever minute (hell every second) and are lead around by whims of fancy that never last for any real length of time as they are ever lead by golden carrots everywhere are regrettably far too many and too often lend their voices to obfuscate critical attention to those projects that offer real worth. Alas…

That aside, what strikes me about this record are the elements and harmonies that slowly build up and release then build up again; the traversing of a journey or the slow unfolding of a story arch that by the end leads to a shattering conclusion. This kind of epic story writing is in place with this record. Sure the first time I heard it was not riveted at every turn, or floored by the technically prowess or recording style. There were no blazing solos or complex overdubs of leads and counter leads like epic power metal but I very much appreciated each part as it developed; its transitions and melodies, its quiet folk parts and eruptions of blasting mayhem. By the end I was haunted by them still and various elements rushed back to me, not in a dazzling, blinding brilliance but as an emotional exegesis, as specter, or perhaps best described as ancestral memories flooding back to me. Returning home and the warm feel of the hearth, the pleasant murmur that one feels when returning to the forest, entering the canopy and the smell of the earth.

I mention the bands above because one can hear similarities to with this release, Gorgoroth’s Gorgoroth from Antichrist with its simple epic clean vocals and breaks mixed with kvlt black metal. One also can hear austere harmonies as those from Drudkh’s Autumn Aurora and Forgotten Legends, and of course Ulver’s Bergtatt. All roads lead back to Bergtatt and the Trilogy. These are very good references, but this project by the bass player of Odal should not be considered derivative by any means. It stands on its on feet proud, head held aloft. Perhaps on a solitary path, but others, kindred to this path should seek others, track this down and enjoy its majesty.

Original review at: http://metal-archives.com/

Black Metal, Germany
Full-length, Irminsul Records
February 12th, 2006

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Verhern - Verhern

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Verhern
- Verhern

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” or “First impressions are everything.” Two expressions that contrast one another and two stereotypes that define the two differential sections of the metal world, when it comes to the fans, at least. Like policing systems, its hard for the average metal fan, particularly the black metal fan, not to work around some sort of offender profiling whereby the listener has these two contrasting methods of judging a band. One will assess the accessibility of the band by seeing how easy it is to find information about them, what sort of band ties that have, if there’s any associated bands that already blow our socks off, and all sorts of methods for working out whether or not a band is worthwhile listening it. Sometimes its easy to work on the basis on conjoining the two stereotypes, and this works in regards to Verhern, an obscure black metal band from the productive German territories. This three piece band seem traditional enough. No keyboardist, just two guitarists, one bassist and one percussionist. Of course, there is a clichéd rasping vocalist, too. The lack of information instantly addresses the listener with a traditional profile. Obscure, mystical and unhelpful in terms of providing any source of information surrounding the band. There isn’t even a band picture of the members. This is obscure.

Thankfully, I’ve dealt with bands like this before and I, myself, am beginning to build up an image of this band and what their sound is like. However, as the first expression tells us not to do - do not judge a book by its cover, despite the fact that often, first impressions are everything. Generally speaking, the latter expression applies more so to the instrumentation than it does the outside influences like the band members, associations with other bands and record labels and pictures, but to a lesser degree. The latter most certainly must be applied here to the instrumentation because, even though I was surprised by the content, it is, generally speaking, very productive. This self-titled piece begins precisely as I would have expected - whirlwind black metal based on the idea of forcing atmosphere on everything, including the listener. Although my attention was not fixated on the band at first, believing this to be just another obscure entity who’s sound is similar to that of 90% of the bands aiming to rejuvenate the old school in the modern day scene, I was wrong. This band has a lot of charm to them, despite the annoying habit of shrouding themselves in mystery. It would be nice, and perhaps useful for the listener to know who exactly operates within this band. Associated bands don’t really give us much of a hint as what to expect with only the drummer being present in other bands, most notably Purest, whom I have heard before.

The best comparison I can muster is with fellow German band Kargvint. In fact, their sounds are almost identical the more I think about it. This leads me to believe profiling works within music, too. For example, each scene, including the German scene, works around similar ideas unless we’re dealing with highly avant-gardé bands who seek to rid the scene of stereotypes. Let it be known, not all clichés are bad things. The fact that Germany has a black metal identity in the underground that is similar between many bands more so than not isn’t a negative reflection. Kargvint’s style of hypnotic haze can be likened to outside factors - think Velvet Cacoon for your most obvious, well known example. The style is primarily based around the guitars - which are usually the most important element of black metal soundscapes anyway, in a general sense. Of course, it can differentiate from the normal, formulaic standard, but it rarely does and when it does, people often cower away from the unknown, calling it inane instead of brave and courageous. Experimentation is acceptable within black metal, yes, but usually within a certain frame. Fans don’t generally want to hear power metal styled vocals in black metal bands, though that might be interesting to hear. They want the bass to affect the ground work more, or subtle elements to flow like a slow stream, somewhere high up in the mountain tops where no one can visibly take notice of it unless they specifically look for it.

The elements that can be called experimental need to be small enough to fit perfectly into the soundscapes without ruining the true essence of the band. Bands like Verhern, who’s self-titled debut does that, and Kargvint work around a national identity that allows them to sound similar, whilst fixating the listener on their own individual methods of subtle play. For example, the bass on this record is more visible than on the majority of Kargvint’s work, or even Velvet Cacoon’s work. Though the fuzzy mist of the distorted guitars still reigns supreme, these subtle elements that add menace to the musical interpretations are quintessential to the overall sound. Whether this is a method used by a band as well known as Velvet Cacoon, or as obscure as Verhern, its just as important. Take songs like ‘Ruinen Toter Existenz’ as the prime example of this. One guitarist generates the whirlwind affect that Kargvint supplement into their music, whilst the other plays a cleaner style alongside the slowly entrancing bass. This combinational style is classic, but you have to ask yourself why that is. Because it is so affective. This band, on the surface of things, sound like any other, but when you take them apart and evaluate their sections piece by piece, you will come to realise, like I did, that they’re accomplished musicians and capable of deceiving because of that fact. Do not judge this book by its over.

Original review at: http://metal-archives.com/

Black Metal, Germany
Full-length, Fimbul Prod./Eternity Rec.
August 8th, 2008

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Aeternam - Disciples of the Unseen

3 de ago de 2009

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Aeternam
- Disciples of the Unseen


There are some bands who have real skill and talent but still go by unknown. Aeternam is one of those bands. From the first song on this album, you can tell that the band is very skilled. The music in short is epic yet brutal and unlike some modern, so called 'symphonic' bands, they don't try to hide behind layers of programmed keyboard music.

The band is very skilled. The song-writing is really amazing and you can feel that from the intro itself. Most of the songs have some time signature changes and some catchy yet brilliant choruses, all which fits in precisely and perfectly. The guitars sound raw and brutal and the guitarists play some kick ass riffs. Most of the guitarring is fast and to the point. A few slow parts too which are well executed. The bass guitar is too under-produced, and is rendered inaudible. That was my main qualm with this album and due to which I deducted 5 points. The lead guitar work is mind-blowing too. It's not overly technical but it fits perfectly with the album's ambiance.

The drumming is brutal yet catchy. The drummer has some undeniably good talent. From the first few seconds, it becomes clear that the drumming is no joke on this album. The drumming for the most part is fast and on the uptempo side. Now about the keyboards, they are quite nice. They aren't over-used and neither do they bury other instruments like a lot of other modern bands. What the keyboard actually does on this album, is to add to the overall atmosphere in a vital manner. Without the keyboard, the album will sound different, in a bad way. The vocals are good too and quite versatile. Most of the album's vocal comprise of growls (similar to Amon Amarth). The rest of them are clean choruses which fit in perfectly well. The lyrical work is decent too.

The production on this album is nice though nothing to write home about. The bass guitar is buried in the mix which made me deduct some points. Though, in the end, this is a brilliant album. If you see it anywhere, be sure to pick it up. It is bound to impress anyone who likes metal in general. I really wish that this band gets some mass appreciation.

Original review at: http://metal-archives.com/

Symphonic/Folk Death Metal
, Canada
Full-length, Self Released
2009

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Borgne - IV

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Borgne - IV

Looking at the dark, misty forest that serves as a cover for Borgne’s fourth venture, then noticing that the album (and all of Borgne’s other albums) is numbered; one might be led to believe that IV is but a repeat of what oh-so-many other black metal bands have done in the past. And you know what? Whoever came into this review thinking this is completely right. BUT although bringing nothing new to the table, Borgne’s takes what has been left on the table and recreates it with the same amount of talent, depth and emotion as the great bands of the 90’s that created and pioneered the genre.

It will come as no surprise that the album starts off on the wrong foot with a boring, uninspired “ambient” track made-up of cheap wind sounds and other effects that are harder to identify. But after bringing our expectations all the way down, Borgne come right back with Sedna and shoots them back up.

Throughout the album, Bornyhake (the man behind the band) spews out intense, atmospheric music very reminiscent of the 90’s scene but adding a slight industrial touch to it. Now don’t come in here expecting techno breaks and psychedelic keyboards. Borgne’s uses this added touch with the furious guitar chords and battering drum beats to create atmospheres so dense you can almost see the fog appearing in your room. Everything is layered together so tightly as to not let any cracks appear in the wall of sound that is being sent your way.

In between the generic intro track and the generic closing track, the album is relentless. The guitars unleash a fury of heavily distorted chords and a small amount of tremolo picking that couples itself with unrelenting drums to create the basic heavy angry sound necessary for this style of music. The drums are often used to complement the guitars by slowing down/speeding up to change the atmosphere of a riff or adding some bass which can dramatically increase the intensity of a passage.

The keyboards are inserted right in the middle of the mix; neither buried under the mix nor taking the forefront. Their use is crucial to achieving the sound found on IV. The slow repetition of a section is great at accentuating the plodding rhythm found in the songs. Also the distant sound of the keys only increases the heavy atmospheres already created by the guitars.

The vocals are, for the most part, the basic angry shriek found in your average black metal but there are a few well placed low growls thrown in for effect. This style, although not in any way new or original, fits with the music and does work with the angry ambience of the album.

So although not bringing anything new, Borgne manages to revive the style of quality black metal that was lost somewhere near the end of the 90’s and adds hi own personal touch to it. This is a great listen for all those that find themselves dissatisfied with the modern scene and want a little blast from the past.


Original review at: http://www.sputnikmusic.com/

Black Metal, Switzerland
Full-length, Sepulchral Productions
March 31st, 2009

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Zwenz - A Life's Work of Natrgaard

28 de jul de 2009

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Zwenz - A Life's Work of Natrgaard

On his newest release "A life's work of Natrgaard" Natrgaard has a completely new style. Before he made Black Metal, more and more influenced with an atmospheric sound. Now on this latest release it is not really Black metal anymore, rather Folk Metal or let us call it "Nature Metal" (which I think Natrgaard wants it to be).

The music itself is by far calmer and more epic as before. That does not mean, that there aren't faster and more rocking parts, but the focus does not lie on them. Even the harsh and raw vocals from for example "Weltenfahrt jenseits der Karte" have mostly been replaced by clean vocals. Natrgaard sure is not the best clean vocalist, I liked his rawer vocals a little bit better, but he does a good job. And important to mention is that the Burzum and Nargaroth like influences from the former albums have mostly disappeared, if one has to compare "A Life's work" with another band "Empyrium" or maybe "Surturs Lohe" jump to my mind, though "Zwenz" has its own sound and still manages to be more than a copy of a famous or legendary band. The production values are great too. Clear sound, as far as I can tell no errors in playing and some nice soundsamples make the album great to listen to.

Still this is not a really professional album, but I am sure when Natrgaard gets signed by a label or gets the chance to release something on a label, I am sure he will keep up the good work. He has more talent and more ideas than many other (even very good) bands in the Black Metal underground scene, that is certain.

Original review at: http://www.metal-archives.com/

Black Metal, Germany
Full-length, Self-Produced
April 2005

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Old Man's Child - In Defiance Of Existence

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Old Man's Child - In Defiance Of Existence

Old Man's Child, a black metal band who aren't exactly the most respected in their genre. In fact they are probably the most hated after the ex-black metal bands Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir. Because they share some members with the terrible two? Because they include melody in a genre that's supposed to be raw? The use of keyboards? The fact that they're fairly popular? Who knows. But this isn't reflected in the quality of their music. Personally I think it's a good thing to share the two most talented (ex-)members of those two bands, namely Galder and Nicholas Barker. As a whole Old Man's Child looks like this:

Galder - Vocals, Lead & Acoustic Guitars, Bass, Keyboards
Jardar - Lead & Acoustic Guitars
Nicholas Barker - Drums

This album is arguably the finest work Old Man's Child has ever put out. Contrary to some of the band's earlier work, this isn't drowned in keyboards or synths, something that might have put off some people. The keyboards are used appropriately, only to create an atmosphere or add a touch of melody. And this is done with great skill. The production is crystal clear and sounds really great (So what if they didn't record in some cellar?) The keyboards are more in the background, where they should be. They give the album a dark and mystical sound, suited for the genre, there are even some chanted vocals to add to that atmosphere. The other vocals have a layered effect and sound good. The guitars and the drums are the most prominent. And with good reason!

The riffs on this album are superb, Galder is certainly a talented guitarist. Every song contains at least a couple of creative riffs and here and there a nice solo. The guitar work has quite a bit of death metal influence and it certainly sounds a lot fuller and chunkier than other black metal. And they mix very well with the keys, there's even some acoustic work around, mainly intros but 'In Quest of Enigmatic Dreams' is fully acoustic and instrumental.

The drums sound perfect in the mix and they really are some of the best I've heard. Barker is an amazing drummer, despite of being so hated. He does some great blast beats, but he's more than that, he has some wonderful fills and his double bass work is furiously trampling and fast as lightning. He's really the driving force of this album.

I can really say this is a very enjoyable album, great production, brilliant song writing, mixing melody and occult lyrics with speed and aggression of the drums and the guitars. And even though the sound of this album is too full and melodic to be accepted by the elitists this is a strong recommendation.

Original review at: http://www.sputnikmusic.com/

Melodic Black Metal, Norway
Full-length, Century Media
January 20th, 2003

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Vesania (Pol) - Rage of Reason

8 de abr de 2009

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Vesania (Pol) - Rage of Reason

Symphonic Black Metal, Poland
Single, Empire Records
January 15th, 2008

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Vesania (Pol) - Firefrost Arcanum

3 de abr de 2009

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Vesania (Pol) - Firefrost Arcanum

I think it's fair to say that Poland have more than their fair share of quality death and black metal bands, and with Vesania boasting members of Behemoth and Vader in their ranks, it's not hard to see where the highly proficient abundance of musical guile comes from on this, their debut album.

This could almost be a lost mid-period Emperor album, if it were not for the slightly less progressive guitar gymnastics, whilst still maintaining the tone of black metal from the farthest reaches of skull crushing, well honed and produced extreme metal soundscapes. This is pretty far from an overindulgent Dimmu-like release, or even an under-cooked Darkthrone-like affair as you can get in 'black' metal, managing to push the album's sonic boundaries into the realms of a more synth-drenched death metal Myrkskog, whilst retaining its ingrown blackened sensibilities. Spattered with atmospheric sections, the album boasts generally long track lengths each taking you on a sonic journey, ranging from face-removing sandblaster sections, to slower, flesh burning monolithic Aeternus-esque destruction. There's a fair bit of Zyklon-like futurism interweaved into the general crushing black/death, with intelligent riffs embedded deep into the song structures, adding a strong sense of dynamics to the fold, which when coupled with the strong but not overpowering usage of synthesizer can (at times) sound really impressive.


Original review at http://www.metalcrypt.com/

Symphonic Black Metal, Poland
Full-length, Empire Records
2003

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Tarot (Fin) - Crows Fly Black

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Tarot (Fin) - Crows Fly Black

Tarot is a band traditions reaching back to the early 80s, and have over the years released numerous albums to much critical praise. But it wasn't until the band's front man, singer and bass player Marco Hietala joined Nightwish things were really made huge for the band. Marco has an amazing and very distinct voice, and thankfully he's been able to combine his work with both Tarot and Nightwish in a satisfactory manner. 2004 saw the release of Tarot's Suffer Our Pleasures, and now the follow-up, Crows Fly Black, is ready.

The genre Tarot operate in is pretty straight forward heavy metal, based around strong riffs, groove and catchy chorus-lines. Suffer Our Pleasures had some excellent songs, but suffered a bit due to lack of variation. Rest assured, Crows Fly Black takes the band to new heights, managing to side-step almost every booby trap put in their way. The album's opener, being the title track, took a while to grow on me, but as soon as I got there I was hooked. Other excellent songs to notice are Traitor, Bleeding Dust, You and Grey, but overall there are no particularly weak moments to mention. One thing I appreciate very much is the band's ability to vary the tempo of the songs, this is a clear improvement from Suffer Our Pleasures. The songs evolve, progress and skip rope hither and thither in between different parts, creating new and exciting moments many times in each song. The production is excellent, Marco's powerful and gritty voice is mixed in perfectly with the hard hitting guitars and bass.

One important thing to note is that this album is a sure grower, I doubt you'll get instantly hooked. But as you start to notice the little things, the guitar licks, the layers of synth in the backgroun and the sometimes almost unnoticeable tempo-changes, I'm pretty sure you'll get around to loving it. Mostly for lovers of Marco's voice, lovers of classic heavy metal or good melodies in general, but I really do recommend it to almost anyone. Give it a chance. This one'll be released the 19th of January, so Tarot has together with Therion's latest given us one hell of a start for the new metal year.

Rating: 85/100

Written by Ole Kristian Mastadøy at http://www.enslavedbymetal.com/

Heavy Metal, Finland
Full-length, King Foo Entertainment
October 27th, 2006

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Raxa - MezoVedic

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Raxa - MezoVedic

If you were interested in Tenochtitlan but found their music to be a bit too much "world music" and not enough metal, I am pleased to inform you that Lefthander's similar project is far more balanced. Even if you've never heard of them, but like bands that mix metal with Pre-Hispanic instrumentation such as Yaotl Mictlan, Ek, and Ch'aska (just to name a few) I think you will find this album to be quite in your taste. And if you haven't heard of those bands, well then do so.

This is one of those albums that for some may take more than one more listen to get into. I know I was a bit reluctant at first. The big difference between Raxa and the bands mentioned earlier is that due to the heavy use of keyboards in order be atmospheric, you may feel sometimes that you're at the freaking dentist's waiting room, or a very strange kind of spa. This is why unless you don't mind the whole atmospheric thing, you may actually have to wait to digest this album.

But once you get over this, the journey can begin. MezoVedic is quite an awesome album. Unlike Tenochtitlan's latest endeavor, Lefthander takes his time with the songs, combining both clean and growling vocals; both heavy riffs and tranquilizing breaks that avoid the cheap, sudden shifts back to the metal to seem heavier than what the music really is. Also, tracks such as "Incumbeni Kadingirra", and "Calm in the Hall of two Truths" combine Lefthander's vocals with female vocals, further enriching the album.

Original review at http://www.metal-archives.com/

Doom Metal / Folk / Ambient, Russia
Full-length, Mystic Empire
April 2008

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Funeral Procession - The Red Vine Litanies

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Funeral Procession - The Red Vine Litanies

Black Metal, Germany
EP, Ván Records
July 7th, 2008

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Paysage d'Hiver - Kristall & Isa

1 de abr de 2009





















Paysage d'Hiver - Kristall & Isa

I couldn't help first commenting on some things said in the review below me, which I know is somewhat unfair because the reviewer will have no chance to reply to mt comments. I honestly think though that it would be ill advised to take advice as to how to interpret the atmosphere of this album from a review that describes parts of this as techno. Everyone can think what they like, but I think that the correct approach is needed to all music to properly and fully enjoy it.

That being said, this music is all about repetition and atmosphere and little about technicality, individual riffs and melodies, or indeed even solely the musical aspect of Paysage d'Hiver. PdH is one of those bands where the concept is either hit or miss, you connect with the musics themes and ideas or you don't (which offers a perfectly fine and legitimate explanation as to why someone would rate this low). I find myself able to connect with the music and the whole aesthetical concept of PdH, and write my review in a way that assumes that the reader may potentially understand the music as well.

The songs are very basic, drumming shows little signs of life besides a droning pound that soon engraves itself into the back of the production. Guitars are a blaze of sound without a discernible shape to them that would lend them the ability to play a distinct melody. Everything drones and repeats quite a bit, and only the vocals and synth provide the variation needed to not make this something that would indeed be boring. All the elements together make this album full enough to be able to convey the emotions and ideas put into it.

The main concepts of course are winter and darkness, and the music provides a platform to meditate on these concepts. If one can understand this link of what the music means in relation to the concept of PdH, then the music will immediately make more sense. One will come to realize that this particular music is music to think and even dream upon. It opens up the imagination and paints landscapes of darkness and snow. That is why the repetition and steady droning of the guitars is essential. It is so that there will be no sudden in jolt to ones thoughts. The only breaks appear in between songs, during which some ambient noises can be heard before fading into the next droning song.

Those familiar only with the ambient work of Wintherr might dismiss this at first, but in essence both styles of PdH ultimately achieve the same end of creating an immense atmosphere. The only difference is that the black metal side of PdH is considerably harder to appreciate at first, becuase it is far less melodic and calm than the ambient works. Highly recommended as music to listen to while relaxing or before sleeping, but not as black metal that is played in the background or in an environment where it is secondary, because this music demands your attention!

Original review at http://metal-archives.com/

Black Metal, Ambient, Switzerland
Demo, Kunsthall Produktionen
2001

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My Dying Bride - For Lies I Sire (2009)

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My Dying Bride - For Lies I Sire (2009)

It is the same scenery as before...outside cloudy weather...rain...darkness. Inside everything... nothing...poetry, melancholy and a crying violin from the past. “For lies I Sire”...
Almost three years after the highly acclaimed “A Line Of Deathless Kings” MY DYING BRIDE return with a masterpiece, so different, that seems the band has chosen to follow a different path from now on...the old road...
Influenced by themselves and more specifically by their attempts in the 90’s, this album combines all those elements responsible for the band’s uniqueness in music. To make things clearer, the band decided again to use the sad violin melodies which used to be their trademark in their first albums. Apart from that, there is a clear return to the sound they achieved in “Turn Loose The Swans” as also in “The Angel and The Dark River” album. Aaron’s vocals are clear in most of the time, crying his poetic lyrics as he used to do in the previously mentioned “diamonds”.
Musically, “For Lies I Sire” is two steps back for the band, resulting in a very big step forward! This means that MY DYING BRIDE provide us with an album that could be the physical continuation of a past attempt such as “The Angel...” but at the same time it is so fresh and inspiring, showing the band’s potential.
The production has a more melancholic approach, aiming to compose a sad-not so dark as their past intentions- melodic musical scenery, reaching an almost suffocating mood at some times.
However, there are some parts showing new inspirations (i.e. “Fall In Me”, “Bring Me Victory”), never before attempted by the band to such an extend. Here we meet some continuous melodic riffs combined in harmony with the classic strict and heavy- MY DYING BRIDE-guitar sound, but everything happens inside the doom/death borders the band issued all these years.
Not forget to mention the clear musical references to “As The Flower Withers” album in “A Chapter In Loathing”...MDB death metal...
Succeeding to fill our lives with misery once again, the leading British band did what was supposed to do. Adding another sad chapter in it’s journey book since the late 80’s, “For Lies I Sire” sets the new borders in the genre, adding once again great musical value...Excellence...

Original review at http://www.metal-invader.com/

Experimental/Psychedelic Doom Metal, UK
Full-length, Peaceville Records
March 23rd, 2009

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Crimfall - As the Path Unfolds...

1 de mar de 2009

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Crimfall - As the Path Unfolds...

Enough can’t be said of Crimfall’s keen ability to marry high energy folk and movie soundtrack devices within the context of a metal album, sounding simultaneously contemporary and, not necessarily old school metal, but rather steeped in an old world feel.

Like the onset of a soundtrack score, As The Path Unfold’s opening track “Neothera Awakening” marches forth with melancholy-filled violins and triumphant percussive thrusts. Distorted guitars chime in at the onset of the following track, “The Crown of Treason,” reminding listeners this is in fact a metal album. But, again, this is anything but metal by the numbers. At various points accordions and stringed instruments bring Viitala’s cinematic vision to life. And Haaparanta’s beautiful, operatic vocals help drive the band’s epic nature predominantly championed by traditionally European melodic styles; however she adventurously and seductively croons with a Middle-Eastern flare on “Sun Orphaned.”

Providing interesting contrast to her lush vocals, Häkkinen’s blackish rasps create a mood in polar opposition with an angry sentiment that’s almost tangible. Though the vocalists play off each other effectively, the black metal approach the band takes musically alongside the black metal vocals is PG-13. To put it another way, the formulaic black metal-influenced portions taste like Bud Light compared to a thick, hearty serving of Guinness.

How far the band has come in such a short span of time (Jakke Viitala formed the Finnish band in late 2007) is quite interesting indeed. It’s a double-edged sword they wield in that of course every band wants a great debut; however the pressure they’ll feel while writing their follow-up, one may presume, is going to be tremendous. Never mind exceeding the quality of As The Path Unfolds, but to meet the standard they’ve set would be a great feat indeed.

Original review at http://heavymetal.about.com/

Symphonic/progressive power/viking/folk metal, Finland
Full-length, Napalm Records
February 25th, 2009

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Usipian - Dead Corner Of The Eye

28 de fev de 2009

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Usipian - Dead Corner Of The Eye

Death Metal, Denmark
Full-length, Metal Fortress Entertainment
July 18th, 2005

This danish band is pretty much unknown to the scene, maybe due to the fact that they only released one album before disbanding. At first glance "Dead Corner of The Eye" comes across as a pretty typical guitar based Death Metal album. But as the album envelops we're treated to a whole lot of variation and creativity along with a solid onslaught of good riffs. This band isn't quite like any other.

The key element here is thoughtful and varied songwriting. Usipian is not the most brutal band ever, not the catchiest or the most atmospheric. They mix all these elements into a sound where every pattern has its place in the song structure. Many of the songs have almost psychadelic clean guitar parts that fit almost seemlessly right into the sound. Using these kind of dynamics usually results in a loss of direction or at least a sense of lacking structure.

The songs themselves are also distinguished enough to stand on their own. While "Selfless" and "An Everborn" are pretty straight Death Metal songs based solely on good distorted riffing there are songs like "Shadows of The Once Unseen", "Multiplied Inhuman Disrupture" and "Predators of The Unbound Sea" where the band really gets into their own style. The clean parts I mentioned take a big space in these songs and in a way that is deeply impressive from a songwriting aspect. Usipian definitely is Death Metal with a whole lot of feeling.

Vocal wise there's also some pretty good things on here. The vocalist Toke sounds a lot like Frank Mullen from Suffocation, and manages to accompany a lot of the riffs with good passion and precision. Production is one of the few low points on this album. It's not overtly bad, but it could've been better considering it's a 2005 release. The drums come off sounding a bit muffled, especially in the blastbeat parts. It's a minor complaint though.

It's really sad that this band broke up. It still leaves me with a paradoxal feeling, since I don't think they could ever write an album quite like this again. Maybe it's better to quit while you're ahead.

Original review at http://www.metal-archives.com/

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password: www.infiernometal.com

Otargos - Fuck God-Disease Process

21 de fev de 2009

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Otargos - Fuck God-Disease Process

Black Metal, France
Full-length, Rupture Music
January 15th, 2009

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Mencea - Dark Matter Energy Noir

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Mencea - Dark Matter Energy Noir

Yesterday I watched a long documentary about the universe. Starting from the paltry yet essential clod close to the sun – our planet earth – they went back in time to the ultimate outskirts of the firmament, there where imploding stars become black holes and white dwarves and clusters of sulphuric acid majestically glide through eternal space. This spatial information always fascinates me and it brought me to Mencea, a new Greek band who recently released its excellent debut ‘Dark Matter Energy Noir’.

As you can read in the interview, Mencea was founded by a number of young Greek musicians. Two of them were already fairly skilled in recording processes. It took some time before they reached their unique musical identity, but since they did not act without discretion, it resulted in a very mature debut. It manifests itself at full power. ‘The Passing’ creates confusion by its unusual timbres. Extensive death grunts, sometimes at the edge of screaming vocals (with a tinge of hardcore) may deter some of you, but mark the amazing textures and undercurrent of melodious notes. There is absolutely more than meets the eye! This is a jaunt through modern metal, meeting with serpentine Amon Amarth riffs and soaring keyboards in ‘Ardad’. Solid Swedish steel on the other hand in ‘Deep In The Under’. The sound is like a massive rock, sometimes close to black metallic accelerations. In addition everything is so groove-laden that it remains catchy. This is a true challenge they surely achieved! ‘When Strife And Greed Collide’ summarizes all this one more time in nine minutes beauty: maximum velocity against drawling slowness, powder away against atmospheric parts (made me think of Hypocrisy’s spatial era). It is all within this gem, in which even the staccato tightness of industrial pops up for a second. It may be obvious that ‘Dark Matter Energy Noir’ turned into a delicious titbit for people who love innovative metal without boundaries.

Original review at http://www.metal-nose.org/

Progressive Death Metal, Greece
Full-length, indie recordings
October 14th, 2008

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Vreid - Milorg

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Vreid - Milorg

‘Milorg' is already the fourth album of Norway’s Vreid in scarcely five years time. Fortunately this productivity has not gone at the expense of quality. In fact, with every album this band seems to improve. Just like on ‘I Krig' the Norwegian resistance during the second world war served as an inspirational source and particularly the resistance group Milorg. I find such thematics refreshing in the sometimes rather smelly black metal scene.

Vreid’s style has been preserved but has become clearly more serious without sacrificing the melodies. On previous albums some songs seemed lost and out of place. That problem has now been resolved and as a result of which the album sounds like a unit. They regularly show their epic or progressive side, as in songs like ‘Alarm' and ‘Speak Goddamnit'. The rock influences are somewhat downplayed now, allowing the melodies to carry the songs this time. Also there is more balance between aggression and melancholy also aided by a fine organic but clear sound. The mood of the album can be characterised as nostalgic without being kitsch. Vreid again takes a step forward in quality and therefore can I securely state that this is their best album so far.

Original review at http://www.lordsofmetal.nl/

Melodic Black Metal, Norway
Full-length, Indie Recordings
January 5th, 2009

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