Dec 22, 2019

Albums of the Year 2019

It is said that every 1000 years, there comes a list written in stone with the undeniably, adjectively, universally correct on all aspects, music albums of the world. This is not one of those lists.

Dec 16, 2019

Top 6 Albums of 2019 by Genre

There's always a bunch of albums that don't make it to the final picking because it's from genres I don't listen to that much, but it would be the ones I would suggest to someone, given that this specific genre was mentioned in a conversation. It's more like a suggestion of six albums per category, in alphabetical order and not by what I prefer. For that reason, it's only the side genres I enjoy to check from time to time and not black or death metal. You'll get plenty of that soon anyway.

~~~~~

Brutal Death Metal
Devourment - Obscene Majesty
Disentomb - The Decaying Light
Meathook - Crypts, Coffins, Corpses
Paroxysmal Butchering - Amygdala
Shinda Saibo No Katamari - SAIBOGU
Visceral Disgorge - Slithering Evisceration

Crust Punk
Agnosy ‎– Daylight Reveals the Torture
Dishönor ‎– Dishönor
Kohti Tuhoa ‎– Ihmisen Kasvot
Ligæder - Den tomme menneskehed
Martyrdöd - Hexhammaren
Saccage - Khaos Mortem

Darkwave
Boy Harsher - Careful
GosT - Valediction
Kontravoid - Too Deep
Night Sins - Portrait In Silver
She Past Away - Disko anksiyete
Snow Ghosts - A Quiet Ritual

Doom Metal
Candlemass - The Door to Doom
Fvneral Fvkk - Carnal Confessions
Isole - Dystopia
Lord Vicar - The Black Powder
Purification - Destruction of the Wicked
Troll - Legend Master

Dungeon Synth
Aindulmedir - The Lunar Lexicon
Arthuros - Ithildin
Hole Dweller - Flies the Coop
Old Sorcery - Strange and Eternal
Sidereal Fortress - Racconti del focolare
Weress - The Dungeon on the Moon

Grindcore
Chants de Rats - I
Die Choking – IV
Distaste – Deibel
Fawn Limbs - Harm Remissions
No One Knows What the Dead Think - No One Knows What the Dead Think
Takafumi Matsubara - Strange, Beautiful and Fast

Neofolk
Blood of the Black Owl - Rivers Within Shadows
By the Spirits - Visions
Heilung - Futha
Kinit Her - Fire Returns to Heaven
Ofdrykkja - Gryningsvisor
Suldusk - Lunar Falls

Noise
Bug Catcher - Insectorum
Closer Bones - The Destroying Angel
Grim - Lunatic House
Merzbow – Noise Mass
Mono Hideout - Sand King
Rusalka - Flux A and B

Post-Rock
A Swarm of the Sun - The Woods
Hammock - Undercurrents
Her Name Is Calla - Animal Choir
Oh Hiroshima - Oscillation
Tides From Nebula - From Voodoo to Zen
We Lost the Sea - Triumph & Disaster

Thrash Metal
Critical Defiance - Misconception
Inculter - Fatal Visions
Morbid Cross - Disciples of the Goat
Slutvomit - Copulation of Cloven Hooves
Suicidal Angels - Years of Aggression
Toxic Holocaust - Primal Future: 2019

Dec 14, 2019

Top 10 non-metal Releases of 2019

I would ideally prefer this list to be fused with the rest of the albums and not be separate, however metal is such a different and bigger story which makes it pretty hard to compare, considering the difference in the amount of albums listened in each category. I don't follow any specific bands either, more like listening to whatever I can get my hands on with a few filters that I have in my head depending on what I enjoy. 

~~~~~

10. Kadavar - For the Dead Travel Fast
9. La Dispute - Panorama
8. Meitei - Komachi
7. State Faults - Clairvoyant
6. Thom Yorke - ANIMA
5. The Caretaker - Everywhere, an Empty Bliss
4. Brutus – Nest
3. Pelican – Nighttime Stories
2. Chelsea Wolfe - Birth of Violence
1. Lingua Ignota - Caligula

Dec 10, 2019

Top 10 Demos and EPs of 2019

Since mixing the smaller duration releases with full-lengths has never been right, it's wiser to make separate lists with the highlight demos and Extended Plays (EPs) of the year. An additional reason to that is that many bands focus on the release of an EP at a given year instead of a full album, not to mention underground black metal bands solely sticking to demo territories. If you choose to focus on full-lengths only, there's a fair amount of music you're going to miss, but again one sadly can't listen to everything. I myself don't go into demos that much, or to put it in a different way, demos take up the 1/20th of what I will listen to in a year, or maybe less. There are two lists below, one for my favorite EPs and one for the demos, take a nice break into poorly produced gems for now.

~ Top ten demos of 2019 ~

(11. Ish Kerioth - One Of The Twelve)
10. Gråinheim – Aries
9. Sedimentum - Demo
8. Lamp of Murmuur - Melancholy Howls in Ceremonial Penitence 
7. Skelethal - Antropomorphia
6. Chthonic Deity – Reassembled In Pain
5. Minnesjord – Agrura
4. Baxaxaxa – The Old Evil
3. Tornmód - Fullmoon Misanthropy
2. Blood Tyrant - The Realm That Brings Forth Death
1. Kommodus – An Imperial Sun Rises 


~ Top ten EPs of 2019 ~

10. Drowning the Light – A Gleam in the Eye of Set
9. Hellripper – Black Arts & Alchemy
8. Tsjuster - Swarte Heap
7. Monarque - Jusqu'à la Mort
6. Ateiggär - Us d‘r Höll chunnt nume Zyt
5. Bölzer – Lese Majesty
4. Ectovoid – Inner Death
3. Ripped to Shreds - Demon Scriptures
2. Volahn - El Tigre del Sur
1. Panopticon – The Crescendo of Dusk



I was never into Panopticon too much, despite all the praise they get from all sides and the obvious overwhelming talent. Yet the two tracks from this EP I'm listening to everyday. Apart from that, take the rest of the releases numbered above one by one and you will not miss out!

Dec 8, 2019

Top 10 Beers Tried in 2019

Until last year, I was a low hanging fruit when it came to the world of beer, in fact I thought it wasn't worth the time or money. Just a few months ago I decided to look into it more after a talk with some friends, and this realization became reality. The variety in taste and experimentation of beer brewing is much vaster than you think, and after it grows on you, it gets clearer and clearer that exploring craft breweries is one of the best activities on planet earth. I only got Untappd in April so that's when I starting having a helper of keeping track, yet I don't think I tried anything too extraordinary before that. I'm open for a judgmental deconstruction from all the beer experts out there, keep in mind though that I don't care about other important parts of my life, so imagine how much I don't care about you. I grew a love for stouts (rule of thumb in life is, the darker it is, the better!) so the first spots are occupied accordingly. 


10. The Lost Abbey - Judgement Day | Quadruple Ale - ABV: 10.2%
9. Katsika | Pale Ale - ABV: 5.4%
8. Orkney Brewery - Skull Splitter | Scotch Ale - ABV: 8.5%
7. Einstök - Icelandic Pale Ale | APA - ABV: 5.6%
6. Electric Curse - Dark Skull (feat. Victor Brandt) | Imperial Stout - ABV: 10.7%
5. Kykao & Marmita - Summer Session IPA | Indian Session Ale - ABV: 5% [a very interesting case of a session beer with 100 IBU (!!) that was well balanced and pleasingly drinkable]
4. Pine Ridge Brewery - The Big Beautiful Walrus | Imperial Stout - ABV: 10.5%
3. Dugges Bryggeri (collab. with Omnipollo) - Anagram Bourbon Barrel Aged Blueberry Cheesecake Stout | Imperial Stout - ABV: 15% [felt like the best liquid cake I ever had]
2. Lervig - TIMES 8 | Pastry Stout - ABV: 16% [the boss of all pastry stouts that were and will be in the future]
1. Yria Cervezas & Seven Island Brewery - Nicta | Russian Imperial Stout - ABV: 17% [stood up and started clapping when I tasted this magnificent beast of a beer]


Music posts will return in a few days, and maybe earlier than in the previous years, see you in a while.

Dec 4, 2019

Top 15 Greek Releases of 2019


Instead of releasing one post every other day close to the ending of the year, and since it's unclear to me how much time i will have later in December, I will be posting some lists throughout the whole month. The fuller list will be posted at the end as the always, which is worked on since a week ago. Every year I usually cover EPs, Greek metal, generally good albums, I decided to stop mentioning disappointments separately since 2013, a non-metal and a metal list, so I will follow this recipe for 2019 but with slight deviations. Here are my favorite releases from Greece for the year, which are mixed from everything I listened to. I expected more from some bands, other bands surprised me, yet apart from a couple of exceptions I don't prefer 2019 over the previous years when it comes to the country's music.

~~~~~~

15. Dark Messiah - Echoes of War [Listen]
14. Murder Made God - Endless Return [Listen]
13. Akantha - Baptism in Psychical Analects [Listen]
13. Sores - Sores [Listen]
12. Darchon - Οἰωνός [Listen]
11. Arthuros - Ithildin [Listen]
10. Ectoplasma - White-Eyed Trance [Listen]
9. Antimob - II [Listen]
8. Planet of Zeus - Faith in Physics [Listen]
6. Aiμα - Tragos [Listen]
7. Their Methlab - The Last Second [Listen]
6. Chronoboros - The Mass Saw Acres of Chain [Listen]
5. Apognosis - Dominion in Polarity [Listen]
4. Order of the Ebon Hand - VII: The Chariot [Listen]
3. Dizziness - Reroute [Listen]
2. Xylouris White - The Sisypheans [Listen]
1. Akrotheism - Law of Seven Deaths [Listen]


Apart from the full lengths, a few mini-albums also made it out (in no particular order):

Human Serpent - The Vacuity (EP)
Stiletto - Poserkiller (Demo)
Hate Manifesto - Herald of Triumph (EP)
Askalaphos - Demo 
Utkena - The Firmament's Hand (EP)
Amestigon / Heretic Cult Redeemer (Split)
Imprecation / Black Blood Invocation (Split)

~~~~~~

| MORE ARE COMING, STAY TUNED |

Nov 26, 2019

Lord Mantis - Universal Death Church

Origin: USA
Label: Profound Lore Records
Release: November 22nd, 2019

~~~

I had initially found out about Lord Mantis when I was looking for other bands with Aamonael of Avichi, and for some reason I thought of them being his side project. It turns out he joined a bit later and only during the time of their previous release NTW, I realized. Lord Mantis have a bunch of known American musicians, like Ken Sorceron of Abigail Williams and latest Cobalt singer, Charlie Fell. The previous Indian drummer (R.I.P.) also played here at some point.

The band's distasteful nature always appealed to me, but to an extent of just enjoying this brand of blackened sludge and not more than that. All their material from this decade are top-notch, and guarantee an uncomfortable listen to people who are willing to step outside of their comfort zone when it comes to their preferences. The newest album Universal Death Church, is more metallic in the sound of the guitars and vocals, features infectious guitar work, is well-written and as filthy as before.

Not always does an album succeed in having memorable moments in every tune, and that's what happens with the contents of Universal Death Church. The elements of sludge, black metal, Lord Mantis-like grooves, distorted ambiance, all co-exist as if it's 2012 and we're back to Pervertor, but this time more monstrous. And if you get into it, hold tight for the first two tracks "Santa Fuerte" and "God's Animal", which might seem more simplistic than you would like, in case you are unaware of the band. The compositions get much more interesting by the third track "Qliphotic Alpha".

But even these aforementioned two, have the successful nuances that don't turn them into filler tracks. The vocals in Lord Mantis always reminded me of a faster version of Indian, and maybe this is even more apparent in Universal Death Church. The ups and downs the record takes with its tracks never drop it too low, yet the monumental tracks that are "Damocles Falls" and "Fleshworld", especially the closing "Hole", can never be in the same league as "Consciousness.exe" for example, which is just a solid piece.

That's the reason why Universal Death Church closes with its three most powerful compositions, not to mention the brilliant guest work on the saxophone by Bruce Lamont on the last track, something that can be picked up right away by ear. "Fleshworld" has some lines moving more into traditional black metal and what it achieves is wondrous and terrifying. I couldn't see their previous albums as a whole, but this, with all its small missteps, walks perfectly fine as a potent unit.

Lord Mantis have not changed a lot since they started and there is no need, especially when they have mastered their sound that good. There is nothing else one would ask from this project and Universal Death Church is definitely for the attention of all the fans. I will be listening to half the tracks from the album again and again for the near future, or maybe the whole of it just for the feels it provokes. Exceptionally good work from a talented band that hadn't done it until now, for me.

Nov 17, 2019

Schammasch - Hearts of No Light

Origin: Switzerland
Label: Prosthetic Records
Release: November 8th, 2019

~~~

Steadily growing in popularity for the last decade, Schammasch have in their discography two long-talked albums, especially Triangle from 2016, which received a bulky amount of media praise. The determined and ambitious nature of the band draws the attention of listeners outside black metal, and they have won a commendable piece of the scene with their music and evolution during the recent years. Speaking for myself, I was never engrossed to any of their previous material, yet it is an act well inside the radar.

The new work Hearts of No Light is an hour and seven minutes long tome, since they were not shy already from the previous album to create a lengthy release. While Triangle was a journey in three parts, Hearts of No Light has one composition significantly longer than the rest (the last track), which pushes its whole duration to that point. The production is clear and charges a powerful atmosphere, right from the introductory, soaring piano piece "Winds that Pierce the Silence". Then hits a ferocious moment in the record, which is the brilliant track "Ego Sum Omega".

All the malevolent guitar melodies, the shrieked vocals, the compositional mastery of the band, are unfolding and taking over. The musicianship is on point, delivering interesting and filthy riffs, building a certain, chaotic feeling that characterizes the rest of the album too, at least for the most part. Keyboards are kept in use throughout, over the different tunes. Schammasch's compelling sound and their not completely traditional palette makes them very interesting to listen to, as the record surely has some highlight moments all around.

Some experimentation is working like a charm in Hearts of No Light, like the connecting track "A Bridge Ablaze", where I especially like the use of the piano with a more modern percussion approach, something that would even fit in a darker than usual trip-hop band. On the other hand, there is a strange part in "I Burn Within You", with frantic vocals and unstable keyboards, which feels as if the listener has stepped into an aural wormhole and into a Carach Angren record. Thinking of the whole atmosphere that the rest of the album has built, I thought that segment was very much out of place, even though the second part of that song is at least solid.

Things get back in track with "A Paradigm of Beauty", which has plain clean vocals coming from a passionate hard rock / post-punk group of a different time. Schammasch are feeling free to jam a bit in this track and even going to more psychedelic rock ideas, before crushing down with heavier lines in "Katabasis". It's quite pleasant to listen to that, as well as the combination of elements from different background they are employing. The fifteen minute long ending track "Innermost, Lowermost Abyss" is almost ritualistic, and it could be classified as a long dark ambient outro to Hearts of No Light, also justifying the title of the album.

It makes perfect sense for part of the audience to have admiration for this band, and while listening to Hearts of No Light, it is by no means a mediocre record. It is a multi-layered and challenging release, yet for me it was not flawless. Some halting moments in "Qadmon's Heir" or "Rays Like Razors" were longer than needed, "I Burn Within You" was turbulent, but as a whole we are talking about a very solid album that grows and you and has a lot to explore. Schammasch have not disappointed, and that comes from someone who is not a wholehearted fan of the band.

Nov 12, 2019

Alcest - Spiritual Instinct

Origin: France
Label: Nuclear Blast
Release: October 25th, 2019

~~~~

This is the situation of a band I have been following for more than ten years, which I first listened in 2007 with their debut full length, at a time when I wasn't aware of the existence of post-black metal or post-rock in general. Going back to their catalog, Alcest's first demo is the closest to black metal there is, but 2005's EP Le Secret clearly showed the direction the band would follow for the years to come. When Écailles de lune was released in 2010, I fell in love with it and still it is one of my favorite records of the decade.

Since then, I have kind of lost Alcest with their series of albums in the period of 2012 - 2016, which were legit but none of them completely thrilled me at any point. By considering Shelter the weakest point of the project, it was intuitively innocent to consider that they were taking a stance away from their harsher self and sticking more to their ethereal, post-rock sound. Kodama was good, and now the new age of the band puts them under the aegis of Nuclear Blast, maybe the biggest metal label in the world.

For these reasons, I entered Spiritual Instinct with ambiguity. There is not a big change I will hate an Alcest album, but falling into the pool of boredom in this kind of music is a daring challenge. The band's wondrous, delicate style is overwhelming, and the compositions have picked up a kind of intensity that I hadn't heard from them for many years now. Its flooding atmosphere is wonderful, emphasizing the strongest point of Alcest and their signal sound is rendered just amazing. 

While one would never characterize their material as dark, Spiritual Instinct definitely explores a gloomier side of the band but in a very discrete way. The shrieks are back, and how brilliant they are, adding a load of power to the otherwise top-notch clean vocals of Neige. The tracks themselves are vigorous, even containing some more vivid guitar lines I wouldn't think of hearing from Alcest. Heck, the album's first two tunes, "Les jardins de minuit" and "Protection", contain melodies of the best quality this band has offered for some time now.

As a band with a very personal sound, there is no point in comparing it with other post-black / blackgaze bands, but instead only with themselves. I believe they are now at a very good point musically, with Spiritual Instinct climbing high to a place among the best they have ever released. It has the lovable aesthetics, the compelling musicianship, as well as the memorable tunes. The use of vocals is excellent, the guitar work equally beautiful and brings elements of Alcest's vision together in total harmony. 

I can't choose one of the first three tracks on the album as my favorite from Spiritual Instinct, yet the second half of the record will stay in the loop as well for this year. The longest song "L'île des morts" reaches nine minutes in length and is quite powerful, while relatively simpler tracks like "Sapphire" or "Le miroir" give out a soothing feeling that makes you sit even more comfortably and listen to the record. The last moments of the self-titled track end the listen leaving an itch to the brain as if there's more to come, having the listener craving for some more music. Everything is so perfectly placed.

There has been a couple of years now that I had skipped Alcest from my listening sessions, but now they are back, barged into my playlist and staying there. It's nice for a band to achieve this, and bring an urge in you to pick them up again right where you left them. Spiritual Instinct is a definite success and could be right behind Écailles de lune for me, for its flawless flow and merit can't go unnoticed. It's the embodiment of what I admire in this specific band. Congratulations.

Nov 4, 2019

Novembers Doom - Nephilim Grove

Origin: United States
Label: Prophecy Productions
Release: November 1st, 2019

⛧⛧⛧

It's been a while since I sat down to listen to a Novembers Doom record, a band which I lost somewhere in 2009 after the engaging Into Night's Requiem Infernal, even though I occasionally run through pieces of their early discography. They were once of big admiration to me, daily listening to them along with early Swallow the Sun and trying to reach a conclusion on which group is the best. Of course, I appreciate both of them for different reasons, and these reasons are still floating with Novembers Doom latest, Nephilim Grove.

As a band that is used to write long albums, this one also holds something more than fifty minutes of duration, professionally produced to give it this spotless sound that corresponds just fine to the record's virtuality. Nephilim Grove has an abundance of melodic riffs, as well as parts of clean guitars, but it doesn't completely shy away from heavier moments and the usage of growls. In general, there are more clean vocal moments here than I remember Novembers Doom to have, but I was satisfied to listen to the whole range of Paul Kuhr's excellent vocals, a guy who I don't mind listening to all the time. It is a strong weapon that Novembers Doom have, and I don't have many vocalists of the "mellow" side of screaming that I like that much (Daniel Droste of Ahab is another example).

Of course, the lyrics are very easy to understand, which made me realize so unused to the concept of such clean vocals I am, when constantly listening to sharper black or death metal albums. Nephilim Grove is quite personal conceptually, in general narrating feelings of nostalgia and sadness after a loss, provoking a familiar negativity that fans should know about. The compositional structure is quite fluid, offering very entertaining guitar solos, switching between catchy choruses and a few more intense moments. I constantly felt like listening to some heavier Novembers Doom throughout the record though, because that's what I am as a person.

There's a slight usage of samples, and a few parts with keyboards, and I'm thankful they didn't let that blow out of proportion in the songs. One of the tracks that I would get back to after a few listens is "Black Light" for sure, exactly for its more brutal nature as was explained just before, where I got to listen some hard hitting with this singer's awesome growls. After that, the guitar work on "Still Wrath" is wonderful, and also the opening track "Petrichor" can be a good introduction to Nephilim Grove. At the same time, I was tempted to skip a couple of tunes just for some repetitive parts they had, mostly when the album turns too mild for my likes. 

Nephilim Grove closes with a beautiful track "The Obelus", and leaves the listener with good impressions on the condition of the band this year. Novembers Doom have had their own sound for a long time now and this is another record where they showcase interesting ideas within the doom / death metal sector, almost adding some gothic nuances this time. I can't tell if I would pick it among my favorites this year but it wasn't a disappointment by any means.

Nov 1, 2019

Sun Worship - Emanations of Desolation

Origin: Germany
Label: Vendetta Records
Release: October 18th, 2019

~~~

This German act had a hell of a start right from their beginning, since their first demo in 2011 featured two awesome tunes, while the EP that followed in 2013 is still one of my favorites from the current decade. Up until the debut Elder Giants in 2014, they were limited in self-titled releases, and they demonstrated a hefty brand of cold and distant black metal, based on dominating riffs. The first full length was a very convincing blow, where Sun Worship exercise their own sound in an excellent flow and haunting atmosphere, flirting with the electronics of early Burzum and at the same time, glorifying the power of their long compositions. It was one of the highlights of the year that gave justice to the potential of their first, rougher recordings. 

Fast forward to 2019, when a lot has changed for the band. They are now a duo, instead of having three members, and also their new record Emanations of Desolation is much longer than what one would expect. With Elder Giants and 2016’s Pale Dawn clocking up to around thirty-five minutes, this new work has double the amount of tracks and double the amount of duration too. Apparently, the shift in the line-up boosted the inspiration of the musicians, who are also altering the sound of the band into something new and different from what they have been doing since now. The tracks in Emanations of Desolation are harsher and do not indulge into this deep atmospheric frenzy Sun Worship was playing before. 

The difference can be felt clearly from the guitar lines of all of the tracks, but even more from the vocals, which are now clearer and more understandable compared to the older self of the band. This change has given out a rather organic record, which is pure in spirit and contains several memorable moments, with the structure of the compositions helping a lot to justify its duration. Sun Worship sound confident in Emanations of Desolation, and they are not afraid to use material that they could have easily used for more than one release. On a personal level, my excitement for the band has been slightly declining over the years, as I enjoyed Pale Dawn a bit less and now Emanations of Desolation, a bit less than before too. 

I am a big fan of Elder Giants and at the same time, the artistic steps they take are at least forward, yet I don’t think they have surpassed themselves with the new album, which has strong moments and a few more undistinguished parts too. A kind of clean vocals are used around (for example in “Void Devourer”, an otherwise solid number), which come out somewhat flat and don’t add up to the adjacent epicness of the music, while a couple of stale tracks hide away the good moments of the record. I loved the interlude “Pilgrimage” as well as the track following it, “Coronation”. “Void Devourer” is definitely well made, yet “Torch Reversed” and “Soul Harvester” are inferior to the aforementioned. 

Sun Worship close the album with a longer track, which also suffers from the same issue, as it consists of a few good parts and a few more dull ones. At first, I didn’t appreciate the beauty of Emanations of Desolation which made me question the notions behind it, yet after several listens I can see it is worth the listen from the fans. For me, apart from some aspects of it that I understand, I feel like it is a bit of a less alluring release compared to the wonderful previous albums, that doesn’t leave them completely off the hook for now. I don’t know if it is a coincidence, but I enjoyed about 50% of the material in the record, making me think that maybe they should have been pickier when deciding what would make the cut after all.

Oct 28, 2019

Mayhem - Daemon

Origin: Norway
Label: Century Media Records
Release: October 25th, 2019

~~~

When the first single was released for the promotion of Daemon, it very quickly became the talk of the town. The black metal scene went frantic over the fact that Mayhem were actually orbiting very close to the musical patterns of their most famous album, and also most groundbreaking for the whole genre, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. As a few tracks were released one by one, it was clear that the band had decided to honor their grandiose debut with a similar minded record, and that new turn would definitely raise the eyebrows of everyone that ever had an interest in black metal.

It is very hard to compare albums of eras that different, and also no matter how diverse the mindset of any black metaller, it is wholly more or less agreed that Mayhem’s first album is literally untouchable, but it is also 100% accurate to say that Daemon draws steps in the same path in its every aspect. The band hadn’t won me the last decade, neither with Ordo ad Chao nor with Esoteric Warfare, albums that featured the modern Mayhem sound but weren’t as memorable as their material from the nineties, yet they earned my respect as unique parts of their discography. In fact, something sounding like De Mysteriis… was completely out of the question in my head, which had Daemon strike like a lightning on me but on a fair part of the scene as well.

The album has the same line up as in Esoteric Warfare, while the production was done by no other than Necromorbus, featuring artwork by Daniel Valeriani, a piece that might be my favorite cover they have ever had so far. The building up worked in the band’s favor, and ought to have the listener press play in a totally welcoming position, ready to go through the experience as if we all remember the first day. Ghosts from the past will be constantly dancing around while Daemon is playing, especially in pieces like “Malum”, “Aeon Daemonium” and “Worthless Abominations Destroyed”, where the resemblance is striking, but in general the record’s sound is as clean and powerful as 2019 allows.

Attila’s vocals are wonderful, since he offers his whole range of growls and insane high-pitched screams, the bass work is equally wonderful and audible throughout the whole process, but the hardest hitter is the guitar work. The guitar riffs of are pure gold, a glorious collection of melodies out of the most intimidating form Mayhem ever had, they are relentless and will not let go of the album’s grip up until the end. It is very hard to feel bad about an album like that, from one of the originators of this style, executed so powerfully.

One can only wonder about the motivation behind this choice of the musicians, who manifest a sound that will please as many fans as possible (me included), whether that was a product of artistic inspiration or a combination of that and the pressure of the world for them to give up on their new material from the last records and go back to something the public wants them to do. That would be a compromise difficult to forgive, especially coming from Mayhem, and I would perhaps give it a bit more weight if Daemon didn’t deliver, but it totally does. I loved listening to it and I will be repeating it for a long time, as this record is by no means a sad replica of De Mysteriis…, its merit directly stems from the talent of its members to produce exactly that. If we are talking about a case of fan service, it still is the best fan service I have ever had.

All the tracks are top-notch, brutal and aggressive, the musicianship is at its highest, and frankly this is what, in my point of view, Mayhem represents. It is compositionally potent and packed with awesome guitar lines, which makes it hard to ignore and a total pleasure to listen. . Listen to “Bad Blood” and tell me you were not moved by its intensity.

It is understandable that it needs to be promoted as such, with 51-year old Necrobutcher going out and saying he was also meaning to kill Euronymous back in the day, a statement that is giving out only weird feelings. We have not recovered from the movie still, now come interviews like that, all of this is really unnecessary and could have been avoided. The music speaks for itself, and Daemon is spectacular. All of the chit chat around it, even if it comes from the band itself, is just noises. You could replay this album for forty times in a row and still you wouldn’t mind. Focus on the content itself and you’ll be convinced. 

Oct 12, 2019

Profanatica - Rotting Incarnation of God

Origin: United States
Label: Season of Mist Underground Activists
Release: October 11th, 2019

~~~

A sparkle of excitement run through the underground scene in 2007 when one of the most infamous and vile bands from American soil released their first full length album, more than fifteen years after their famous demos in the early nineties. Profanatica have been steadily releasing records since then, while touring the world, they have significantly cleaned their sound but neither the drive behind the music nor their style has been altered since day one. It is a challenging band that causes distress even to fans of black metal, and it can be completely misunderstood at first glance. Their history is interesting on its own and the members have several side projects that are worth listening to, with their vision being at a love-it-or-hate-it condition, which is unique enough that it has never been replicated all these years. 

The new record Rotting Incarnation of God seems to equip Profanatica with new wings, as they have now moved to Season of Mist and some differences are noticeable, mostly in the area of promotion. They will be touring full time for the promotion of the album, they have done some professional photo shooting (farewell to the old days) and the record’s artwork was done by the goliath Paolo Girardi, whom you might have recognized from the artworks of Blasphemophager, the reissues of all Inquisition albums, as well as a bunch of other releases. Heck, the band seems to have their own clothing now, with the known Profanatica angel sigil, and the guys themselves are featured in the cover of the album (the majestic beard of Paul Ledney can’t go unnoticed). 

As an act that was once an outcast even among the underground, now it seems that it is finally appreciated and wholly embraced, and an advantage you can’t take away from them is that they haven’t really gone smoother musically either. Rotting Incarnation of God will blast you with many filthy riffs, slow guitars, ugly vocals, the characteristic, repetitive drumming and the killing of any notion of atmosphere for the sake of profanity. I found several tracks to be more memorable than their previous two albums, even though I loved last year’s EP, and while it isn’t different music, it still pinpoints and high peak of the band’s career so far. 

There are some issues with the production, which grants the instruments a great sound but I think the vocals are mixed way too high and at times it feels as they were edited in the studio to sound like a really loud whisper. For some short, faster moments in the songs, drumming could have been a bit fuller, but in general it is what Profanatica can produce and they nail it with Rotting Incarnation of God. Tracks like “Sacramental Cum”, “Mocked, Scourged and Shit Upon” and “Tithing Cunt” come consecutively in the album and are disgusting but lovely, especially the last of the three having some guitar lines that truly make the band shine. 

I enjoyed all tunes of the album almost to the same extent, maybe except the snail-paced moments of the self-titled track, which was just something minor in front of the whole offering that really makes time fly throughout the listen. All in all, Profanatica don’t diverge from their own self at all in Rotting Incarnation of God, they keep their compositional ideas and lyrics as we knew them, with a noticeable overall better crafted result for them as a band. I can’t say people that dislike them will have a change of heart with this record, but their fanbase should get ecstatic. Welcome to the death of melody.

Oct 7, 2019

Blut Aus Nord - Hallucinogen

Origin: France
Label: Debemur Morti Productions
Release: September 20th, 2019

~~~

New material from diverse bands is always exciting news to listeners, with Blut Aus Nord being a grand example of this category and a project with hefty history and a fairly hefty discography on their backs. Mainman Vindsval is a unique musician who has never compromised, and his work is the proof for that. Throughout the years, I have praised but also discarded BAN’s albums without ever skipping a single release, since I consider this one of the biggest names to be constantly into someone’s radar.

This decade has seen no less than six full lengths by Blut Aus Nord, and they have left a bittersweet taste on me, as I am not the biggest fan of the 777 trilogy, I could not fully appreciate their previous album Deus Salutis Meæ in 2017, yet I think Saturnian Poetry from 2014 is their richest record and also one of the best black metal albums of the 10s. 

The band’s new album Hallucinogen came as a surprise to me, ever since I saw one new version of their logo in bubbly, floating letters a la Black Sabbath, or more closely like Electric Wizard. The artwork’s vivid colors give cunning looks to some darker Infected Mushroom even, with the concept being quite straightforward about hallucinogens and psychedelics, something that Blut Aus Nord haven’t expressed so far through their musical content (worry not about their personal lives). 

By slowly stepping into the compositions, an aural execution of these very subjects is apparent and pops out of mainly colorful guitar melodies, chanting vocals and this dizzying atmosphere. The band employs a combination of their own trademark sound with psychedelic elements, or at least tries to balance between its own identity and the urge not to completely be dragged towards that direction. Some sparse shrieked vocals are now the only characteristic that connects Blut Aus Nord to their old black metal self.

The first track “Nomos Nebuleam” was also released prior to the record and intrigued me, because of this new turn in the band’s music but also because I seemed to sincerely enjoy the tune. There are several moments of awesome guitar lines in it, most probably featuring a couple of the best riffs in the whole record. After listening to Hallucinogen till the end, the realization is that this track is indeed the best among a collection of sub-optimal pieces. After the second track “Nebeleste”, the attention starts to wear off and Hallucinogen becomes repetitive, circling around the same pattern of lively melodies, solos and cleaner ambient parts.

For instance, I could not grasp on how a track like “Mahagma”, a basic and unoriginal post-black metal piece, would end up in a Blut Aus Nord record. Only the closing part of that song saves itself a bit, but one minute is not enough. Tracks “Sybelius” and “Anthosmos” are also indifferent, with a few enjoyable parts but mostly containing ideas same as “Nomos Nebuleam”, but inferior. Hallucinogen is an album that can be felt completely, even from one single track, no matter which one you pick. 

 “Haallucinählia” is another take-home track as the first two, which features beautiful and slightly filthier riffs, as well as the calm ambiance that is used around. However, this resemblance between tracks doesn’t work on its favor, when you listen to the clean guitar part of this one and the ending of “Anthosmos”, can you really tell the difference?

I can see this record going places, and I expect it to be successful outside the boundaries of the underground. Its pleasant sound and psychedelic nature are a tempting fruit, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they acquire new audience from it. Personally, Hallucinogen is a rather direct record that gives everything to the listener right away with its transparency, and that makes me feel a bit frustrated, coming from a notoriously enigmatic band like Blut Aus Nord. Depending on what you see as success, you can weight this album the way you want.

Sep 30, 2019

Mortem - Ravnsvart

Origin: Norway
Label: Peaceville Records
Release: September 27th, 2019

If the name Mortem doesn’t ring a bell to you when thinking about bands from the early Norwegian extreme metal scene, maybe it’s high time you went back to your history books, because this somewhat unknown act was a vital piece of the scene’s growth. Formed in 1987 by Marius Vold and Steinar Johnsen, who you might know as the mastermind behind Arcturus, their first demo “Slow Death” in 1989 featured gnarling death metal, during a time when the Norwegian black metal scene was still in a boiling, amorphous state. Mortem’s demo was produced by Euronymous and its artwork was drawn by Dead, which classifies it as a true and rare gem buried by time, since Mortem never got to release anything else. Until now. 

The act has reformed and among many bands that come back to life from the nineties, this was possibly the bigger surprise for me. The stellar line up does involve the Arcturus mainman Steinar, Marius Vold, the bassist of 1349 and Pantheon I, Seidemann, and the legendary Hellhammer himself. If the previous pieces of history and these musicians don’t get you hooked, I don’t know what will. “Ravnsvart” has wisely chosen its aesthetics close to their original material, since they haven’t changed their logo from back then, and also the art of the album seems like it is simply pencil drawn, definitely preferred to a possible digital design for this specific occasion. However, the musical content of the record is absolutely 2019 material, with a clean production and clear but cutting sound, it is well produced and has a healthy dynamic range. Speaking for the sound only, it was one of the most pleasing releases I’ve listened to recently and flows like a charm, showing the massive experience of the members involved. 

The Arcturian spirit is strong and present all over “Ravnsvart”, especially in the guitar lines and the background synths, which are constantly coming and going. It maintains harsh vocals, which makes the result come out as the uglier, younger brother of Arcturus, a reasonable situation considering the composer behind its creation. As a whole, Mortem reminds of Arcturus a lot and it should share its fans, yet the first band is just an ounce heavier. The album starts and hits hard with the self-titled, and highlight track, which spews the burning guitar riffs, vocals and synths in full blast, it was still the track I remembered even after the record ended. Middle paced pieces of course exist and rely a lot on the keyboards (e.g. the last two tracks), but the intensity doesn’t wear off completely anywhere (great is the track “Blood Horizon” too). 

I can’t say “Ravnsvart” is completely void of fillers, as parts of some tracks felt a bit underwhelming compositionally, and that is more apparent in the middle / ending part of “Mørkets Monolitter”, however these moments are rare, hopefully. In total, this record will feed all the nerds of the Norwegian black metal scene with a great treat, it is enjoyable to listen to and a solid addition to a collection of new releases by beloved Norwegian musicians. Until the new Deathtrip album is out, and in case you need a harder fix than Arcturus, this is for you.

Sep 27, 2019

Procrastinate / Myteri - Split LP


I was aware of this release but didn't realise it's also out on one of my favorite labels, Alerta Antifascista. I got into Procrastinate after seeing them live in a basement once, they only had an EP released then if I remember correctly. Short discography but a really promising crust band, and also their last two releases (this and the self-titled of 2017) have a kick ass artwork. Listening to this split again, both sides are definitely worth it.


Sep 12, 2019

Nocturnal Departure - Cathartic Black Rituals

Genre: Black Metal
Label: Self-released
Origin: Canada

Track listing:

1. The Incantation (Intro)
2. Dismal Existense
3. Ritualistic Vomit 
4. Astral Transcendence  
5. Mental Abyss
6. Ethereal Enlightenment 
7. Cathartic Black Rituals 
8. Monolithic Decay
9. Morbid Existence
10. Insidious Strangulation

The color purple is gaining ground lately in cover artworks.

Sep 6, 2019

Chalice of Blood (compilation)


A collection of highly infectious tracks by this Swedish awesome act, that has been around for almost fifteen years now but still lacks a full length album. In the meantime, check this wonderful compilation from a band that has meddled with acts of fine quality in the past and maintains a solid level of music throughout its discography. 

Listen (Bandcamp)

Aug 7, 2019

Volahn - El Tigre del Sur


Almost missed the new material by the band that never disappoints, as it happened last year when their amazing split with Xaxamatza came out. This 14 minute track is monstrous, it has an awesome sound, beautiful ideas and a shitload of epicness and power to deliver. 

When is the next full length coming?

Listen (Bandcamp)

May 19, 2019

Bullet Ratings #7 - Greek releases (I)



This is a collection of some of these year's stuff I have heard so far, I have another pack of the same size more or less to post later, or maybe add a couple of new upcoming albums too. As usual, some of them might have a brief talk, some not, with a rating as I personally have it in my head.

  • Acid Death - Primal Energies [7.0]
  • Akantha - Baptism in Psychical Analects [7.5] % very good, lives up to the quality of their debut and landed them a contract
  • Akrotheism - Law of Seven Deaths [3.5] % I don't think their new direction worked, sad to say this is boring
  • Beyond the Existence - Thoughts Through Imagination [3.0]
  • Bus - Never Decide [4.0] % meh
  • Cosmic Plunge - Dealing with the Harvester [6.5] % keeps it up
  • Darchon - Οιωνός [7.5]
  • Dark Messiah - Echoes of War [7.0]
  • Faunus - Sacrifice [4.5] % lot's of space for improvement
  • Feeble - Forbidden Ritual [6.0] % a bit standard but not bad
  • Funeral Storm - Arcane Mysteries [7.0]
  • Insanity Cult - All Shall Return to Chaos [6.5]
  • Katachthon - Συρακούσιος τύραννος [2.0] % what happened? their previous EP was awesome, this new track is unlistenable
  • Moeror - Sag (EP) [7.0]
  • Monk - Residents (EP) [5.5]
  • My Deathbed - Mirrors of Depression I [6.5]
  • Nordor - Caedis [7.0]
  • Progress of Inhumanity - Rotating Misery [7.0] % well done by this act I was unaware of
  • Ptoma - Life [6.5]
  • Rotting Christ - The Heretics [6.0]
  • Schizoparanoic Platoon - Subhuman Extinction [5.0] % if it wasn't for the horrible sound, I would appreciate it
  • Solis in Antris - The Forlorn Warrior [7.0]
  • Sordid Dogs - City Freaks [6.5]
  • Sores - Sores [6.5]
  • Spectral Lore - No Excuses for Fascist Sympathy (Book of Sand Cover) [7.5]
  • Stiletto - Poserkiller (Demo) [8.0] % heard the tracks seperately from Youtube, a pure and awesome demo!
  • Sørgelig - Devoted to Nothingness [6.5]
  • The Elysian Fields - New World Misanthropia [7.0] % good and refreshing effort
  • Their Methlab - The Last Second [7.5]
  • Utkena - The Firmament's Hand [7.0] % quite interesting

Mar 24, 2019

Envenom

Artist: Sabbat
Genre: Black / Thrash Metal
Origin: Japan
Year: 1991
Label: Evil Records

--

The debut album by a very old Japanese band, which has been exercising anti-religious lyrics since the mid-eighties, almost at the same time with all the US / German masters. Sabbat has a series of awesome EPs from that period, which sound more like thrash but in imagery and text, they could easily fit the first wave of black metal and what influenced later bands.

During the nineties, the black / thrash elements became more apparent and they have been going until today. They also have a vast, vast discography, with countless mini releases, multiple in number per year.

Envenom is the first full work of Sabbat, released in 1991 by Evil Records, which is Gezol's (the band's vocalist / bassist) label. The guy is a true metal maniac and has been paid tribute by no other than Darkthrone, since their track "I Am The Graves of the 80's" refers to him. 

There is a certain transparency in Sabbat's music and the old school, dirty thrash sound is glorified through the cheesy - devilish tracks in Envenom. The vocals are relatively harsh and speed metal is ongoing.

The version I have is the re-release from Iron Pegasus records in 2016, which I think is also their current label. It comes with an old interview from that time (I think around 1990) which is awesome to read. Later, it was re-released again by Nuclear War. Primitive music played honestly, and this was proven by the steadiness of Sabbat all these years.

It was not the first piece I listened by them and I have mostly spent time around their 80s - 90s stuff, and not the rest, which are a lot. Envenom has a great production (listen to the drums), and a variety of interesting moments in its tracks.

Synths are used in "Bewitch", and "Reminiscent Bell", which give an almost space ambient kind of feeling, different from the 100% old school, filthy of the rest of the record. All songs kick ass. 

The band had a series of good albums in that decade and offered to me some of the best black / thrash I have ever heard. Favorites are "Reek of Cremation", "Eviler", "Devil Worship" and "King of Hell". 

Track listing:
1. Bewitch
2. The Sixth Candle
3. Satan Bless You
4. Evil Nations
5. Devil Worship
6. Reek of Cremation
7. Deathtemptation (Kanashibari Part 2)
8. King of Hell
9. Eviler
10. Carcassvoice
11. Dead March
12. Reminiscent Bells

Listen on Bandcamp

Mar 10, 2019

Deathmanicvs revelation


Artist: Skelethal
Genre: Old School Death Metal
Origin: France
Year: 2014
Label: Iron Bonehead Records

--

The first serious release after a demo and a split from this French band, which is very much into the non-modern side of death metal.

While I just enjoy it musically, above all are the vocals and the good guitar solos in this release. In 2014, they released another notable EP, named Interstellar Knowledge of the Purple Entity. They are not perfect, as the tracks feature some awesome moments of great riffing, but there are filler moments too.

I believe Skelethal lost their way later, and their debut full length was a disappointment for me, as it had some good tunes but the sound completely ruined it for me. That's why I listen to this and the other EP whenever I come back to them.

From the awesome artwork, to the back picture of the band itself, this LP was worth it and the release is a product of good and proper death metal thinking.

Bought this vinyl from the excellent Floga Records store, which continues today with many unique and underground releases at fair prices. I have it since it was released, so it's been five years now.

There is an overall issue with Skelethal's sound. If they fix that and some minor compositional parts, they will be one of the best of old school death today.


Side A
1. Intro
2. Macabre Oblivion
3. Putrefaction
4. Deathmanicvs Revelation

Side B
5. Curse of the Neverending
6. Death Returns
7. A Violation of Something Sacred (Sacrilege cover)

--

Listen on Youtube

Feb 28, 2019

Seven harmonies of unknown truths


Artist: Ildjarn
Genre: Black Metal
Origin: Norway
Year: 1992 (2003)
Label: Independent (Eisenwald)

--

This was another piece I got from the visit to Helsinki recently, among a couple of other things that I might write about later on. 

I own very few records by Ildjarn, since I don't have a large collection anyway due to lack of determinism. The other album being a split with Hate Forest from 2013, I figured out later on that it's Nidhogg tracks not even recorded by him, so this is what I have from actually Ildjarn

Seven Harmonies of Unknown Truths has the second best release title after the monumental Strength and Anger, and it's one of the very first demos by the artist. Of course, I have the reissue by Eisenwald, which was officially licenced by Ildjarn so it's not a bootleg or something. 

The liner notes inform the listener that this was "originally released as a demo tape in 1992 by Ildjarn and sold exclusively at Helvete record store". Metal Archives says there were only 25 tapes too.

The CD's package is one of the most beautiful ones I have ever bought, it has amazing designs by Tern, a great poster drawing by Marthe, it's minimalistic and pitch black as it should. There are extra vocals by Samoth, let's see if you can pick them up.

This version of the demo has the structure of eight tracks and not seven as in the original demo, because the first has been split into two parts. There are also names other than "-" for them, basically being the version that can be found here.
I don't want to talk about its music so much because it is very meaningful, to do a whole article around all of his music, with a playlist of the best and worst tracks. Ildjarn had moments of greatness and mediocrity, but I consider this project a genius like no other in the Norwegian scene. If someone is the embodiment of what the genre is all about, it's him. His attitude towards the music and life is the actual real meaning of a word that is ridiculed by fans and not fans alike today, "true".

The back cover here has a whole text split in seven parts, probably referring to each track, and a story is told alltogether. I don't want to write passages from this to urge you to find this release and buy it, but there is a bone-chilling message that gives life to cliche words like misanthopy and hate for mankind. 

It feels like Ildjarn is talking to you directly, and the words are cutting knives.

There has been many different facets of music in his discography, I believe his first steps do not depict the glory of later material. Most of Seven Harmonies of Unknown Truths is middle-paced and based on repetitive riffs, and that's enough.

Remember that very few artists have managed to create such a powerful atmosphere with a handful of notes only. I'm thanking this German label for putting this together and I hope more black metal was like this. Away from the spotlight for real, not sharing, isolated, cold, noisy, mesmerizing. 

A bigger series of posts might come for Ildjarn. I have parts of his music that I consider unreal, and others that don't deliver. A small part of the black metal community considers this the best black metal artist ever, and while I don't completely agree, I love it how he isn't mentioned in any major listings, articles etc...

Track listing:
1. Harmony I
2. Harmony II
3. Harmony III
4. Harmony IV
5. Harmony V
6. Harmony VI
7. Harmony VII
8. Death Dynamics
9. Harmony I (Remix)
10. Harmony II (Remix)
11. Harmony III (Remix)
12. Harmony IV (Remix)
13. Harmony V (Remix)
14. Harmony VI (Remix)
15. Harmony VII (Remix)
16. Death Dynamics (Remix)

Feb 19, 2019

Promulgation of the fall


Artist: Dead Congregation
Genre: Death Metal
Origin: Greece
Year: 2014
Label: Martyrdoom Productions

--

I still remember reading a Dead Congregation interview in a Metal Hammer issue, back when their debut was released in 2008. That was also the period I started getting into the harder subgenres of metal.

At some point, there was a reply that went like: death metal is not for everyone, and that's the way it should be.

This statement kind of stayed with me and made its impact to my younger self and how I decided to step forward with the band, as well as the broader style, for the years to come. 

That year was also the year when the best death metal album of the 00's was released, which is Dead Congregation's debut Graves of the Archangels. I remember how it felt like the first time I listened to it, and after a decade now, it's still one of the most sincere and focused records you can get your hands on.

Six year later, "Only Ashes Remain" opens their second album and describes exactly what was left after Graves of the Archangels, for this whole time. The most crushing, menacing and familiar sound is back, with bestial (and magnificent) lyrics, ready to cause sheer terror.


I had bought this in CD when it was released. Recently, after visiting Helsinki for a day, I found it in LP format as well and decided to honor it a second time, as looking at this killer artwork in a larger scale piece is the definition of beauty.

The record was released by the band's label Martyrdoom Productions, but this specific LP is distributed by another excellent label, Norma Evangelium Diaboli.

All the track titles on the sleeve, as well as the album title, have been hand written by Kostas Protopapas, and there are lyrics by Timo Ketola (in "Schisma") and Tim Grieco from Antediluvian (in "Quintessence Maligned"). 

I believe this scene was first forged by Incantation in the nineties and has now been on the rise the recent years. Dead Congregation are one of the best, if not its best contributors.

If you like this, it's safe to say you like death metal, as it is in its core. Along with Cruciamentum, they are my top suggestions in this field.

Promulgation of the Fall has highlight tracks through and through, but my favorites are: "Only Ashes Remain", "Nigredo" (also spawned the brother band with the same name), "Immaculate Poison" and "Serpentskin".

Track listing:
1. Only Ashes Remain
2. Promulgation of the Fall
3. Serpentskin
4. Quintessence Maligned
5. Immaculate Poison
6. Nigredo
7. Schisma
8. From a Wretched Womb

--

Listen on Bandcamp


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