Sunday, December 20, 2020

Albums of the Year 2020

Last year, I closed this post by giving a shoutout "that's all folks, see you next year and stay alive". Ironically enough, I should never have opened my mouth and give any kind of wishes on a year that proved to be one hell of an amusement park ride, constantly feeling like a nightmare simulation you can`t wake up from. Misery and existential dread didn`t just knock on our doorsteps, it came in crushing down the house, left everything in splinters and locked down the pandemonium of the century.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Top 10 EPs of 2020

Welcome back. I'm kicking off this year's lists posts with one that I would post a bit later on usually but this time, it was actually the one that was finished first. At the same time, 2020 was the year I listened to the most EPs compared to past years, reaching 84 in number, when I normally go for half that. Many bands give equal attention to their Extended Plays as they do to full lengths, depicting important steps in their careers, and there were several ones this year that I considered to be great to listen to. The genre variation will not surprise you because there almost isn't any, so let's look into some 2020's fabulous extreme metal mini-albums.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Top 10 Greek Metal Albums of 2020

Since the very first years, to be on the lookout for new coming and underground bands from your whereabouts has been of vital importance, to encourage locally relevant quality. Two events to point out were the return of the ancient band Piranha, and the release of Revenge's Massacre In Heaven along with its story, an album that didn't get any coverage as far as I am aware of. To subjects closer to me, sadly I listened to Eriphion's second album (with its intriguing cover that refers more into some DIY post-punk than black metal) too late, and it would be a possible runner up for this list. 

Top 10 Greek Metal of 2020:

10. Nox Formulae - Drakon Darshan Satan
9. This Is Past - Labyrinth
8. Obsecration - Onwards the Mystic Paths of the Dead
7. Katavasia - Magnus Venator
6. Death Courier - Necrotic Verses
5. Revenge - Massacre in Heaven
4. Dephosphorus - Sublimation
3. Utkena - Nex Fornix
2. Kawir - Adrasteia
1. Mystras - Castles Conquered and Reclaimed

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Top 10 Non-Metal Albums of 2020

Usually this part is all over the place, but this year I had a clear favorite and several albums I found fascinating, even in more mainstream genres. The list represents well the various genres I was into throughout the year and basically I somehow chose representatives of each, but there are still things I had to listen to but didn't manage. Some honorable mentions are the albums by The Strokes, Nothing, The Garden, Nine Inch Nails and Dua Lipa. Wait, what?

Top 10 Non-Metal of 2020:

10. Forndom - Faþir
9. Prurient - Casablanca Flamethrower
8. Steve Von Till - No Wilderness Deep Enough
7. Taylor Swift - Folklore
6. William Basinski - Lamentations
5. Lowrider - Refractions
4. Anna von Hausswolff - All Thoughts Fly
3. Puta Volcano - AMMO
2. Bohren & der Club of Gore - Patchouli Blue
1. Venus Volcanism - Rizitiko

Thursday, December 10, 2020

List of Good Albums 2020

As we're wrapping up, this is the pool of albums I enjoyed throughout the year, in alphabetical order. More concrete posts are being written as we speak and meanwhile, you might find a couple of hits even now at the last moment:

Abigor - Totschläger (A Saintslayer's Songbook)
Abramelin – Never Enough Snuff
Afsky - Ofte jeg drømmer mig død
Akantha – Gnothi Seauton
Altar of Gore - Obscure & Obscene Gods
Anaal Nathrakh – Endarkenment
Ancient Gate – Empire Beyond Dusk
Ardente - Citadelle des Brumes
Begotten – If All You Have Known Is Winter
Beneath the Massacre – Fearmonger
Black Vice - The Alchemist's Vision
Carved Cross - Severance of Disparity in Absolute Acrimony
Circle of Ouroborus - Viimeinen Juoksu 
Cold Earth – Your Misery, My Triumph
Cosmic Putrefaction – The Horizons Towards Which Splendor Withers
Crépuscule D'hiver - Par-Delà Noireglaces Et Brumes-Sinistres
Cultus Profano – Accursed Possession
Cursed Altar – Midnight Reprisal
Cystic – Sworn Enemy of Life
Cénotaphe - Monte Verità
Death Courier – Necrotic Verses
Devangelic – Ersetu
Disembowel – Echoes of Terror
Disrupted – Pure Death
Dropdead - Dropdead
Drown – Subaqueous
Drüben - Det Alværnende
Elffor – Unholy Throne of Doom
End – Splinters From an Ever-Changing Face
Enepsigos – Wrath of Wraths 
Enshadowed – Stare Into the Abyss
Erancnoir – Berglicht
Fellwarden - Wreathed in Mourncloud
Feral Light – Life Vapor
Forgotten Tomb – Nihilistic Enstrangement
Gaerea - Limbo
Gloosh – Timewheel
Grace.Will.Fall - Barren by Design
Grógaldr - Illness Unto the Womb of Spirit
Havukruunu - Uinuos Syömein Sota
Horna - Kuoleman kirjo
Häxanu - Snare of All Salvation
Ifernach - The Green Enchanted Forest of the Druid Wizard
I’m In A Coffin – Waste of Skin
Incantation – Sect of Vile Divinities
Í Myrkri - Drivende i Dødens Æter
Jordablod – The Cabinet of Numinous Song
Kommand – Terrorscape
Konvent – Puritan Masochism 
Krallice – Mass Cathexis
Kryptamok – Verisaarna
Lampir – Awaiting the Predatory Dreamscape
Leeched – To Dull the Blades of Your Abuse
Ljosazabojstwa - Głoryja Śmierci
Maquahuitl - At the Altar of Mictlampa
Midnight – Rebirth By Blasphemy
Molested Divinity - Unearthing the Void
Mortiis – Spirit of Rebellion
Mourir - Animal Bouffe Animal
Mournful Winter – Viscus Et Os
Naxen – Towards the Tomb of Times
Nidernes – Darkness Cenotaph
Nox Formulae - Drakon Darshan Satan
Núll - Entity
Oranssi Pazuzu - Mestarin kynsi
Over the Voids - Hadal
Ozzy Osbourne – Ordinary Man
Prison of Mirrors - De Ritualibus et Sacrificiis ad Serviendum Abysso
Raven Throne - Viartańnie (Chroniki Źmiainaj Ciemry)
Reaper – Unholy Nordic Noise
Revenge - Strike.Smother.Dehumanize
Sanctifying Ritual – Sanctifying Ritual 
Sentient Divide – Haunted by Cruelty
Serpent Column – Kathodos
Serpent noir – Death Clan OD 
Sinister - Deformation of the Holy Realm
Spirit Possession – Spirit Possession
Striges – Verum Veterum
Suicide Silence – Become the Hunter
Svartsyn – Requiem
Thecodontion – Supercontinent
Toadeater - Bit to ewigen daogen
Turia – Degen van Licht
Vampire – Rex
Verbal Razors – By Thunder and Lightning
Vinland Ghost – Empire Without End
Violent Hammer – Riders of the Wasteland
Voyeur's Blood - The Dawning of Post-Mortal Enlightenment
Vredehammer – Viperous
Wake – Devouring Ruin
Warp Chamber – Implements of Excruciation
Witches Hammer - Damnation Is My Salvation
Yaldabaoth - That Which Whets the Saccharine Palate
Ygg – The Last Scald
YounA – Zornvlouch

Saturday, December 05, 2020

Paysage d'Hiver - Schnee

This year will be a year to remember for many reasons. Little events happened in the scene that surprised me, and one of them was the exposure Paysage d'Hiver got worldwide with their album Im Wald. If you dare to call this the project's debut because it's a full length then you haven't spent serious time with the band, whereas the fact that they actually released and EP (!) in the same year is much more surprising. As a fan for several years now, I lean a bit on the negative side about Im Wald and not because of the popularity it got, but that's for a different post that will probably never come.

On the other hand, here is a collection of tracks that I previously hadn't thought needed to be gathered in a single release. Schnee is a compilation of tracks the self-titled tracks (I) to (IV), composed in a time period between the early 00's and late 10's, specifically "Schnee (IV)" was featured in the 2017 split with Drudkh, a breathtaking mini-album also for a different post. Considering that another compilation was released in 2020, we faced quite some activity from Paysage d'Hiver in 2020, who started off the year with a blast with the live show (remember) in late January and the early distribution of the full length there.

The process of listening to this band is like a patient exploration. It insists upon the subjects it touches for more than twenty years now, so there has to be some serious filtering of material in order to maintain a relevance. Paysage d'Hiver have achieved that in a remarkable manner so far, maybe not totally but mostly. I don't know if Wintherr planned this all along, but the sequence of the four "Schnee" tracks is brilliant, and also plainly describes, the most vital source of influence of the band, in its simplest word. To be a bit clearer, only through exploration one can discover the magnificent guitar part in the middle of "Schnee (I)", which comes at a point when the listener has assumed he has heard everything.

From the four tracks, "Schnee (II)" is definitely the hardest hitting, which is also the shortest composition at only ten minutes. All the main elements of the band are present, from the wind samples to the monotonous, lethargic riffs, distant shrieks and some beautiful clean singing during the opening of the compilation. I didn't need to be reminded of how majestic "Schnee (IV)" is as it was already under frequent spins, but I'm pointing out again how amazing it is. The cover of Schnee might be the same photograph as the cover of the band's split with Nordlicht, where "Schnee (III)" is featured. 

I never expected such an act to attract attention outside of the underground, and a little breakthrough was made with Im Wald. Things are changing as we speak, and this compilation offers a fine dose of Paysage d'Hiver's talent that works as a silent reminder not to neglect the past, when taking steps ahead. Schnee comes in an elegant black envelope, with gentle engravings on the side, on a delicate A5 digibook, proving how this is a jewel not only for its music. 

Monday, November 23, 2020

Hwwauoch - Protest Against Sanity

Less activity as we're approaching the end of the year and for obvious reasons, attention has been turned towards all-time favorite posts that will spawn in mid-late December. 

In the meantime, implode with Hwwauoch's new, terrifying album, which poses a challenge to all that is musically conventional and believe me, better to take a deep breath before diving in. 

Monday, November 16, 2020

Beherit - Bardo Exist

2020 has been the year we saw some activity from the Beherit camp. In August, NWN Productions released Promo Tape, a reissue of two classic tracks from the past in red cassette featuring an iconic photo of the band. A live album was also independently released a bit later, named "Live in Nokia Finland 8-3-1991", so up to that point it seemed like we are still mooching off their rich early history. What about a completely new full length album on top of that though?

Bardo Exist, unexpectedly dropped, serves as another big surprise of the year. It is the follow-up release of 2009's Engram (not counting 2011's re-release to the mix), a widely talked release of that era, as is anything Beherit put out, and also follows the same kind of turn they did between 1993 and 1994: from a primitive black metal record to a challenging, experimental ambient one, yet this time it only took eleven years instead of one. In bleak aesthetics, the band's wonderful logo strongly poses on the side of what seems to be a smeared black face and is just a beauty to look at.
Being quite interesting to listen to, it surely isn't an average dark ambient work but more of a release characteristic of Beherit's atypical compositional ways. I won't hide that I would listen to bombarding, thick, repetitive riffs by them any day, however Bardo Exist is a proper addition to their back catalog, with all its idiosyncrasies. The album contains eleven tracks and thirty seven minutes of music, with a special edition containing a self-titled, twenty two minute piece, which I haven't heard yet.

The record is not purely aiming to be a dark instrumental soundscape, as different kinds of synths kick in throughout the listen. Discrete elements from a wide array of electronic music are being employed at times, often changing places in the same tune too, in what could be a score for a contemporary art noir movie. Beherit are fans of distorted vocal sounds and they are gracefully used in Bardo Exist too, from the introduction to several parts of other tracks, which are relatively diverse but maintain a settled flow that doesn't break the overall atmosphere.

Highlights are the haunting "Shadow Prayer", "Acid Death Vision", the sudden noise / drone switch after the spacey synths in "Peilien vanki", the pale beats of "Ghost Visitor" and the dim outro "Sorrowers". I liked the nuances of "Extreme Thirst and Insomnia", and how "Silom Vortex" feels like a track that would play once you entered a tavern in an old school RPG game. Bardo Exist is loyal to the character of Beherit, which doesn't always wear the facet of the ugly black metal monster that they might be most famous for. I got behind this band very late, yet this release and its listening process, satisfied me deeply.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Young and in the Way - Ride off and Die

Needless to say, it is a big and unexpected turn to see a new album by Young and in the Way, minimally promoted, splashing in the world out of nothing. After the burning incidents that rose to the surface a couple of years ago, I believed this band was put to rest for good. And even though they have now a new full length album, fans should not trust in a full return as it is stated by the band that this is "the final album by The True Enemy". Entitled Ride off and Die, it is an appropriate swan song for a band like that, while the obvious Darkthrone reference stands out (they even have a song named "R.O.A.D." here). 

It almost feels like not a day has passed since When Life Comes to Death, except for the fact that the band has now exposed its core and stripped the music down to the bare necessities. The titles and lyrics, angry and straightforward, tell the tale of the wounded beast in punkish filthy fashion, with the hard-hitting compositions being exactly what Young and in the Way does best: pompous beats, harsh screams, cutting guitars and abundant feelings of hostility.

If you've heard of them before, at times it will feel like you've heard this before. The techniques are all the same, yet Ride off and Die is one hell of an enjoyable record because there is hardly any misstep. The band has channeled all its rage from the last few years into one record that might seem simple but isn't easy to achieve, and the listener will definitely feel how sincerely pissed they are with everything. I remember liking their previous album but this, more direct in its nature, fits wonderfully as the album to completely describe what this band is about.

Not a single track is to be skipped (interesting background synths in "Endless Night", plenty of energy in the riffs of "Suffering Dawn", "There is No God, Only Me" and "Ready to Explode", "R.O.A.D." is a two minute Young and In the Way anthem) but most of a note must be left for the last one "You Can't Kill Me". Seven minutes (not as long as other closing tracks they have done), the middle paced passages with the clean vocals towards the end, as well as the final solos / screams, are a highlight for the record and the band. 

Let's see if this will get any coverage from zines around, yet I wouldn't bet my money on that. Ride off and Die sees off Young and in the Way in such manner that there needs to be no more activity from them. The band probably doesn't care anymore, they're throwing this out there and suggesting its title as the way to deal with it, and as the last lyric goes, "you can't kill what's fucking dead" is the take home message for us.

Friday, November 06, 2020

Lockdown Chronicles II - P. 1

"The exercise of meditation and memorization requires nourishment. This is where the more specifically intellectual exercises, as enumerated by Philo, come in: reading,  listening, research, and investigation.  It is a  relatively simple matter to provide food for meditation: one could read the sayings of the poets and philosophers, for instance, or the apophthegmata. "Reading," however, could also include the explanation of specifically philosophical texts, works written by teachers in philosophical schools. Such texts could be read or heard within the framework of the philosophical instruction given by a  professor.

Fortified by such instruction, the disciple would be able to  study with precision the entire speculative edifice which sustained and justified the fundamental rule, as well as all the physical and logical research of which this rule was the summary. "Research" and "investigation" were the result of putting instruction into practice. For example, we are to get used to defining objects and events from a physical point of view,  that is, we must picture them as they are when situated within the cosmic Whole. Alternatively, we can divide or dissect events in order to  recognize the elements into which they can be reduced.

Track listing:

1. Iskandr - Verban
2. Horseback - Invokation
3. Apognosis - The Failure of Man
4. Harvestman - Oak Drone
5. Bongripper - Hate Ashbury Part II
6. Trap Them - Organic Infernal
7. Indian - Directional
8. Palehorse/Palerider - Sundowning
9. Bruce Lamont - The Crystal Effect
10. Merkabah - Pitchblende
11. Djevel - Naa er hele livet paa ravnens bord
12. Antediluvian - Luminous Harvest
13. Abyssal - A Casual Landscape
14. Cloud Rat - Seven Heads
15. Saligia - Draining the Well

Sunday, November 01, 2020

Sorcier des Glaces - Un Monde de Glace et de Sang

If one doesn't count the rework of Snowland in 2012 as a separate full length, Sorcier des Glaces now count seven albums since 1998, with the last decade being by far the most productive period for the band. The Canadian project hasn't really fallen short all these years, as a large part of their solid work has granted them a respected spot in the underground scene and their debut is hailed as an atmospheric black metal masterpiece by now. I haven't talked about them a lot in this blog even though I haven't missed a record since 2011 and The Puressence of Primitive Forests

Un Monde de Glace at de Sang (=A World of Ice and Blood) is surprisingly, the first album of the band to go over an hour in length, even though they have flirted with this kind of duration in the past (last 2-3 records were about 50 minutes). Such a size is only necessary, giving Sorcier des Glaces the space they need to unfold their ideas and construct the wonderful, frosty atmosphere that they are craftsmen of. While this is true, don't imagine the sound of more modern atmospheric black metal bands with a lot of ambient elements in them, SDG are well set in their own approach and wear their 90's black metal influences and roots on their sleeves.

The first three tracks showcase parts in all different speeds, several epic guitar lines and well worked sections right up in SDG's game, being some of their most memorable material the last few years. The album has tracks both in English and French, the vocals are clear enough to follow, and as Un Monde de Glace at de Sang unfolds, it proves to be an absolutely captivating album. Acoustics are first introduced in the beginning self-titled track, which is also the longest and includes additions of samples of sword fighting, along the already established wintry feeling the album exerts. 

A wonderful cover of the song "The Warlock" by Necromantia, originally in their classic debut Crossing the Fiery Path from 1993, gives extra hints of SDG's early black metal influences (they have covered Tormentor too in the past). After all, they are a band that belongs in that era anyway. Proper justice is given to this majestic composition, a great choice for a cover that is also great to see, how Sorcier des Glaces would approach and replay it. 

One of my favorites from Un Monde de Glace at de Sang is "l'Éternelle Majesté des Montagnes (partie II)", which seems to be a musical continuation of the first part of the song with the same name "l'Éternelle Majesté des Montagnes", that can be found in Snowland, the band's first album. The two pieces both start with a kind of chanting vocals, and in the case of this record, the spirit of the older times is a little bit stronger also. "(Return to) the Primitive Grandeur" is another track where Sorcier des Glaces use more repetitive, faster tempos along with their potent melodies.

I'm quite satisfied by the production as well, which has cleaned up throughout the years but has not gone full crystal clear. The cold and slightly dusty sound that has been given to the guitars serves the music perfectly, and Sorcier des Glaces have an excellent grip on compositional structure to an extent that they have to specify the lack of keys in the album. The different layers are created by the guitars, which feature brilliant riff work and variations. Un Monde de Glace at de Sang does not get along completely with the music of its time, and this is a definite plus in this case. 

There's nothing to skip and nothing to complain on this album. Sorcier des Glaces are unique, and perfect in what they are doing, with Un Monde de Glace at de Sang they created a black metal album in which melody and intensity co-exist perfectly, it is primitive enough and flows like a river. Unlike more modern albums, it represents the authentic and unfiltered process of creation that only the best bands in the 90's employed, it glorifies the SDG sound as a whole. Fans of the band or Quebec metal (Forteresse came to mind a bit when listening to this) will surely love this record. 

I don't know, maybe I like it that much because it's now raining a lot here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Funeral Harvest - Funeral Harvest (EP)

When looking at a line-up consisting of members from Italy and Norway, especially in the territory of religious themed black metal, it's difficult not to immediately think of Darvaza. Funeral Harvest is the first EP of a band that has been active only since 2016 and has just a demo and a single released before this mini-album, which makes it their biggest work for now and also the first main stop point in the hopefully, more to come.

Thematics close to the aforementioned band are being stressed here as well, as it seems Funeral Harvest aim for the same aesthetics with a hefty inclination towards the use of Latin, I can only imagine that they would perfectly fit in black metal festivals along bands with a ceremonial stage presence. The EP contains four tracks at a duration of almost twenty minutes, common compositions to the band's first demo Bunker Ritual Rehearsal, reworked for this release. Naturally, this translates to a slightly cleared up production, making Funeral Harvest easy to approach and follow.

Comparing with the demo recordings, I get the feeling that part of the intensity has been lost along the way, as the sound the band had in 2017, with the same tracks, did come out as more intimidating than the mixing of the latest EP. It would be a lost case to claim that Funeral Harvest have not been meticulous with their effort now, yet it's a release that wouldn't be a big musical challenge for someone who follows this kind of black metal. Apparently, Signal Rex will host the band's debut full length too, and I am hoping the band pushes forth a bit towards taking more risks in order to stand out.

Looking into the tracks specifically, the different parts of "O.S.N.D.S.P.T." make it an entertaining track, the opening "Nihil Sub Sole Novum" displays great technique on changing between slow and fast paced moments, while "Omega" on the other hand has guitar lines that are a bit more indifferent. "Sacred Dagger" is another solid track, and the raspy, scourging vocals are saving plus for the whole release. I would enjoy Funeral Harvest to use the proficiency they have in adapting a style, and be in overall, more intense. It's definitely a band that can do it. 

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Empyrean Grace - Bestowment of the Seraphic Key

Among the many different, mainstream and not, releases that were scheduled for today, I was also waiting for Iskandr's new EP Gelderse poort, the next recording step of that project after the marvelous Euprosopon from 2018. However, by listening to that and then going into the label housing the Dutch underground group named Haeresis Noviomagi, I stumbled upon this demo by one of their new bands, Empyrean Grace. Needless to say, all the bands related to this label are nothing short of fascinating, yet this project still caught me off guard as it doesn't fully comply with the musical methods of its compatriot acts.

Bestowment of the Seraphic Key consists of one twenty-eight minute track. In case you are familiar with this family of artists and by chance had Imperial Cult's Spasm of Light come to mind, don't expect similar material here. Empyrean Grace's approach emphasizes on layers of opaque soundscapes, it's more soothing and mesmerizing, puts everything around the listener to a halt and it forces you to just lean back. They are not afraid to employ monotony and it's used to their advantage, creating a deep, lethargic atmosphere, coherent enough and with wonderful variations in parts, to make it a magnificent piece for its duration.

Once the sense of engagement has set in, the elements unlock. The track's contemplative nature thwarts movement but isn't demanding or draining, instead it stays in between and makes up for a truly rewarding listening experience. I don't easily stay tuned with endless tracks of almost ambient black metal, however I played this a second time back to back. I don't know any information about Empyrean Grace at the moment, but it just proves again that the turbulence coming from this side of the Netherlands, is not an accident.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Five albums released on October 16th

A blog was born in mid October, 2012, but this is not that kind of anniversary I'm referring to right now. On the otherwise quite unimportant date of October 16 happened a far less glamorous event, and that was of course, that it was the day when I was born. I don't know if you have ever wondering what was going on in the music world during the time that you arrived in this life, or important related events on that date etc.., and maybe this might be too much of an overkill even for listening nerds to keep track of. And while the world was jamming off "I'll Make Love to You" by Boys II Men during October of 1994, the album that gave me happiness from that month is that Impaled Nazarene's Suomi Finland Perkele was actually released on the 16th. And by the time I was two days old, and also mature enough for it, Stoner Witch by the Melvins came out. What a week!

While there are several general history websites that report events on a certain date, and also some regarding music only, it's not as clear to find such insight for underground scenes like extreme metal. I scanned through (with the help of one and only archival website for the music we love) four decades, from 1980 until today and gathered the most notable full lengths albums for myself, covering material from late Thin Lizzy albums to Throane's latest EP Une Balle Dans Le Pied, which was released this morning. Just the process of going through all these records gives a good grip on something that is important only to you personally, so I hope this post works not so much to spread music knowledge but as an idea to other list obsessed fans of music, or movies, or whatever you're into.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Interview with Reign of Erebus

A new record by Reign of Erebus, a band coming from deep into the underground black metal scene in the UK, feels like the awakening of a forgotten demon from the past. With their first steps back in the late nineties, there was a decade long hiatus starting from 2005, it seems the group got back together in 2015 and quietly worked its way to their third full length album De Morte Aeterna, a follow-up to Inversion Principle which was released in 2004. Reign of Erebus have years of experience and they have not attracted huge attention so far, maybe 2020 and the overall sharpening of their sound, might mark a new era for the band. Chthonian, the vocalist and also the longest running member of the -by now- trio, shared some insight on the state of Reign of Erebus today.

Thursday, October 08, 2020

Sepulchre by the Sea - Conqueror Worm

After a single track demo in late 2019, this one-man project from the UK comes out with the debut full length Conqueror Worm, to be released in November of this year. Openly influenced by themes of Edgar Allan Poe, the band's name could be a reference to one of the poet's last works "Annabel Lee", describing the perseverance of the protagonist's love towards his then deceased woman. As mournful as that piece is, Sepulchre by the Sea aims to convey the same atmosphere through a mixture of traditional black metal and elements of melodic / post-black in Conqueror Worm, which last almost an hour and features six tracks in total. 

Among them, the track from the demo has been re-recorded for the album, and the wider use of different instruments broadens and shows more clearly the musical palette of the project, which combines a variety of characteristics around the basic black metal pattern. Sepulchre by the Sea also employs solid clean vocals at times, most notably in a the wonderful "Slices of Death", while the most intense moments line in the great guitar lines of the self-titled track, "And So It Crumbles" and the middle part of "Behind the Walls". The last of these three takes a calmer turn towards the end to give way to the final track of Conqueror Worm, "Plutonian Shores", a lengthy composition that touches seventeen minutes duration and goes through all the phases of the band's sound, from clean to heavy parts and in between. 

There are a lot of interesting ideas in Conqueror Worm, which wouldn't make it just typical post-black metal, still I think there is space for improvement in terms of cover artwork and production, with the latter having the potential, in my opinion, to give a completely new dynamic edge to the project if handled properly to give space to the compositions to really show their worth. Sepulchre by the Sea's first effort is a fine offering of black metal that isn't direct and raw, for fans of atmospheric / post-black metal artists and of course, for lovers of Edgar Allan Poe.

Saturday, October 03, 2020

Anaal Nathrakh - Endarkenment

By now, and by the frequency Anaal Nathrakh come out with a new album, it feels like it's effortless from their side to make new music. And since they have such a good grip on their own fairly distinct and personal sound, they have become a band with an almost secured fanbase, with the odds of this changing to be very low, as they would need to seriously mess an album up to alienate people who dig their material. What I pinpointed in Endarkenment was that a lot of unusual -and to some, possibly including me, unnecessary- electronic elements that had been circulating in the last few albums are now gone and we are back to a more straightforward, Anaal Nathrakh-ish brutality. The album throws dirt on many global subjects of today, having the band heavily criticizing social / political issues while painting a rather dismal picture of the current status of the planet, without missing the vulgar lyrical touch that makes them appalling but at the same time, effective. Yes, this time you can tell parts from the lyrics from Dave Hunt's vocals, which the textual parts more understandable, but part of me always longs for the catastrophic vocals of once-upon-a-time Anaal Nathrakh. As I couldn't get into their last couple of records too much, I reckon some of the most characteristic, potent and dynamic guitar lines they have composed lately can be found in Endarkenment, even though you can't say that they haven't relying a bit on muscle memory. It's been eleven albums so they deserve a break, what I can say with certainty is that Endarkenment grows on you the more you listen to it, and you will listen to exactly what you expect: an undulating combination of scourging guitars - apocalyptic vocals, epic melodies with clean vocals, including high falsettos to remind us once again that Anaal Nathrakh are big fans of King Diamond. An issue I have had with many of their albums is the plastic drum sound, however with Endarkenment they are brutally convincing, and to me achieved some even heavier levels than Desideratum, The Whole of the Law and A New Kind of Horror. All in all, a very intense and vile album from a band whose heart is in the right place. 

Monday, September 28, 2020

Sunken - Livslede

Funnily enough, I remembered that Sunken were preparing a second album about a month ago when I was browsing through a record store in a city near here and found not their debut Departure, but their first demo The Crackling of Embers, originally released independently in 2013 but re-released through Vendetta Records on vinyl in 2018. The Danish band have already come a long way and left a deep mark in 2017 with Departure, which might have not get the exposure it deserved but still featured some of the best atmospheric black metal of the recent years. 

A turn has been taken to their native tongue with Livslede compared to their first full length album, which also has a elegant, beautiful cover that has been drained of all color. This goes along with the conceptual approach of the record, which paints a picture about the world that is rather helpless and desperate, often making references to the natural elements (storms, the vast sea) to correlate with living life. In these bleak lyrics, it feels like the protagonist is not trying to avoid the suffering but find the meaning in going through it, while contemplating death as the final cleansing towards peace of mind.

Musically, Sunken hit hard and at the same levels as with Departure, with a marvellous sound that efficiently combines potent atmospheric black metal and elements of post-rock / post-metal, the latter being more obvious in the track "Delirium" and the second part of "Foragt". There, the band has created a small partition to Livslede that slightly strays from the more direct black metal sound they have in the rest of the album, but this will most likely go unnoticed due to the overall fantastic flow. The production is clear and apart from the long guitar lines, aching vocals and synths, credit ought to be given to the audible and neat bass work.

Since I rarely find merit in such instrumental introductions to such records, I skip them more often that I would like. Not the case with Livslede, as the touching introduction "Forlist" with deep, echoing piano opens the album, immediately setting the stage and hooking up the listener, it properly directs the attention to what Sunken is about to present and works exactly as what an introduction piece should. Of course, it gives way to the album's highlight "Ensomhed", which shoots all that Sunken can do in top-notch fashion, and it there's one piece you have to listen to from Livslede, this is it.

"Dødslængsel" is as capable of closing the record as was the "Forlist" of opening it, swinging back and forth from middle-paced thrilling melodies to fast-paced atmospheric black metal, and ending with a melancholic clean guitar / ambient outro. It's now two quality albums in a row for Sunken, which should make the fans of atmospheric black metal keep and note and look out of this band's movements from now on. Livslede is a well-written and emotional album, without falling in the disease of being corny, as sadly several bands in this sub-genre of black metal.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Panzerfaust - The Suns of Perdition - Chapter II: Render Unto Eden

Last year, I had almost skipped Panzerfaust's Chapter I: War, Horrid War. When I finally listened to it, it didn't take me that much time to place it among the albums to return to for the rest of the year, and until now. A band completely unknown to me with a long history starting from the early 00's, which lived through a very obvious change in their path by releasing War, Horrid War in 2019, which lifted them from the average underground corridors of extreme metal to the high peaks of artists to constantly keep an eye out. Momentum has now been growing even more, with the second chapter in this concept tetralogy, Render Unto Eden, attracting the attention of an even bigger portion of the scene. And it's by no mistake.

From all the war-themed metal albums in the world, how many would you tell manage to convey the message and provoke the feeling adequately enough to avoid being crushed by their own pretension? The atmosphere Panzerfaust construct is unique, and with subtle compositional fixes show how well they know how to play and what they're doing. By nature, Render Unto Eden has space for interpretation (compared to a more direct War, Horrid War in my point of view) and has been improved in terms of musicianship, production and mainly, flow. The band masterfully builds the album's intense moments, maintains a dim, menacing character throughout the listen, having placed together five tracks that go along in absolute brilliance. 

While the sound is very characteristic of them by now, slight traces of other famous bands of our time can be found in sparse riffing and the more general approach of their aesthetics. Mgła influences can be found in some potent guitar melodies of "The Faustian Pact" (and the stunning structure of this song), but more clearly in "The Snare of the Fowler", just by listening to the drumming session in the middle of the track and on. In Render Unto Eden, the guitar lines have grown, the bass work is impressive and should not be overlooked, drumming is on point, and the depth of the compositions certainly surpasses its predecessor. 

Apart from Arkona's Maria Arkhipova, who is featured and contributes to a breathtaking part of the introduction track "Promethean Fire", I also adore the chosen cover for Render Unto Eden, which could be taken from the works of Käthe Kollwitz and specifically The March of the Weavers in Berlin, one of her more popular pieces. Other than the fine aesthetics, "Areopagitica" is the total banger of the record, deserving to get higher exposure, as it is addictive from the first seconds and quite memorable. I think all five tunes are of high quality, but only once the listener invests into the band's world. The closing of Render Unto Eden with "Pascal's Wager" is plain melancholic, offers a smooth transition back to reality and makes up for this hell of a listening experience.

There is backstory to the tracks and the complexity of the album is not so much in terms of technicality but more in the level these musicians understand what they want to write in their music. In my opinion, it's really hard to achieve this and shows endless compositional potential. I know for a fact that the band can be mistaken for nothing special as I almost was in that loop once, yet Render Unto Eden can make a lot of extreme metal records obsolete, and it just makes me wonder how will the next two albums look like in this story. Until then, listen to Panzerfaust and listen to this, but as a whole. 

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Whoredom Rife - Ride the Final Tide / Pakt

Apparently, Whoredom Rife have another full length in the works and until then, this EP was released with material that depicts the "more aggressive side of the band" and for that were not meant to be included in that album. Their previous works have been notable to say the least, yet I am wondering about the direction of the new record just from that statement. In the meantime, they released a fully acoustic EP at the end of 2019 and a split with almighty Taake a few months ago, named Pakt. This new EP features two tracks, "Ride the Final Tide" and a cover of "Maanens Natt" by Manes, from their first and monumental for Norwegian black metal album, 1999's Under ein blodraud maane. Whoredom Rife covered this gem of a track wonderfully, they implemented background layers with synths / chants behind the slow-paced main melodies, and they played all of the original's parts with the guitars (if you've heard Manes's version, you will surely remember the vivid keyboard sessions). This choice makes the song slightly darker than what it was, more in the territory of Whoredom Rife themselves. As for the self-titled track, it is worth mentioning that it has a video clip that is actually bearable to watch. That said, it's fairly fast and full of great riffing, you won't be shocked but it isn't conceivably an unpleasant banger. 

For Pakt, it's another two new songs by the band, this time including one in Norwegian "En Lenke Smidd i Blod" (=A Link Forged in Blood"). This tune employs more melancholic guitar lines, placed in middle speed and gets more and more epic as it progresses, before concluding Whoredom Rife's side with an acoustic outro. On the other hand, the opening "From the Nameless Pagan Graves", undoubtedly heavier, is as violent as Whoredom Rife usually get. I'm not going to deal with Taake's indifferent part in this that much, however if you're a Sisters of Mercy fanatic, maybe you would find the cover of "Heartland" interesting. I don't know if these mini-releases set the ground for the upcoming full length of Whoredom Rife, but I wish the material in there will at least be of the same quality. The band has been on a good trajectory since their first steps, trying hard to bring their country's scene to the forefront, and it's one of the bands that can actually deliver with their music as well. 

August 28th, 2020 | Terratur Possessions

Listen to Ride the Final Tide:

Monday, August 24, 2020

Precambrian - Tectonics

This is the second time it's happening. Back in the middle of 2019, one day I decided to re-listen to Wintewolf's debut Cycle of the Werewolf (which was also my first vinyl purchase) and at the end of that post, I was wondering about the future of this project, if there was any. Soon afterwards, they surprise released a second full length (review here), which had me scratching my head as if it was a joke then. Fast forward to this year's May, I also re-listened to Precambrian's discography up to date, the two EPs they released in 2014 and 2016, through the 2019 compilation that contained them. In my thoughts, this compilation was more of a concluding mark for the band, but little did I know that they were about to start on fresh, with not an EP, but an actual full length this time. 

When the album's single Cryogenian was released some time ago, I didn't believe my eyes that another side-project I was very much into and recently wrote a post about, spawned a full length unexpectedly. Tectonics is barely half an hour long, it contains five new tracks from the band, which has chosen the stripped down, straightforward and combative approach they have been following since day one. Thematics revolving around climatology and geology, thick sound and often incredibly heavy tunes is what characterizes Precambrian, unlike their members' other projects that tend to infuse a lot of melancholy and melody in their music. Though you will not find that kind of atmosphere here, with Tectonics there are some concealed, well placed melodic parts in the songs, that turn events into more epic directions.

For those new to Precambrian, prepare to be met with material that is dense and hostile, where the tools are simple: potent repetitive riffing, hard hitting drums and above all, monstrous growls and screams. The vocals take the record to a different dimension (the singer's growls have been a long time favorite of mine) and make the already impressive, minimalist structures of the compositions even stronger. Moments in "Fossilization", "Archaebacteria" or "Cryogenian" feel like a bulldozer, in a way that is almost rare to find in black metal nowadays. Precambrian have not chosen a color outside black - grey - white - black yet, they don't talk about the typical uninteresting subjects you are used to and above all, are talented in what they do.

"Volcanic Winter", a rather interesting phenomenon on its own, is also a highlight track. Traces of the aforementioned melody are present, along with some of the most monotonous parts of the album, and it works great. One will notice how abruptly tracks get cut when they end, as if there was a continuation that is not in the final mix, a choice that I sense was done consciously and aims to not have a comfortable flow. In normal conditions I would be alienated by this, but Precambrian is not the project that aims for anything different than what they offer. Since this project is very specific musically, I don't know how they want to continue with it but a synth based album, Ildjarn style, would be interesting to hear.

Once you've taken a course in Hate Forest's albums, the next step would naturally be to check and invest into this rather quiet an unknown side project from the universe of Drudkh. Not many bands sound like them and there is nothing friendly in this album, in a sense its release was a very satisfying event for me and another secret wish I had came true. By all means a release that is worth your time, especially if you are into underground extreme metal and you're looking for elements that have been coming and going the recent years during the musical expansion of the genre. Precambrian creates its own thick layer, with hardly any outliers. And for that reason, Tectonics can be assimilated and appreciated as it should. 

August 21st, 2020 | Primitive Reaction

Listen to Tectonics:

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Primitive Man - Immersion

Three years after Caustic, Primitive Man releases an album which is half as long in duration, and also the shortest of their three full lengths, including the debut Scorn from 2013. For some reason, this was the first characteristic that drew my attention before getting into Immersion, which has already been widely praised by everyone who knows this band. Primitive Man have been relatively active in between the full lengths with a lot of split releases, most of them with quite interesting underground artists, however I have to admit it's only Scorn and Caustic that I had heard of them until now (and of course, the cover of "Sweet Leaf"). The band dictates its own law with immeasurable heaviness, playing one of the most direct and ugliest forms of doom out there, and to even call it like this feels slightly out of place. Doom metal can be beautiful.

The sludge / noise combination of elements, widely used by bands from the United States in the recent years, along with openly expressive lyrical negativity, has been a weird growing trend over there. Primitive Man leave no space for anyone to doubt their sincerity though, and this comes from someone who wouldn't claim to be their biggest fan. For the first time with this band for me, I gave them points and acknowledged the album's title being aligned with its effect, as Immersion can get quite immersive. The band's music was harder to follow with Caustic, a record which was over an hour. The content has been distilled multiple times now and the result is more consistent, more solid, and not at all less violent.

For its own sake, Immersion has an amazing production. The natural and pleasing sound of the drums makes each snare hit directly through your heart, the monstrous growls are unsettling, and the guitars are ripping all along during the album. No unwanted dust can be found in the overall sound, except when Primitive Man wants it to be there. Noise touches are of course present like before, especially in "∞", even though the real terrifying moments for me with Immersion are when they play faster. Parts of the closing track "Consumption" and the introduction of "Menacing" (one of my favorite tracks from them by now) display this clearly. At the same time, most of Immersion is painfully slow, putting shame to a big chunk of the scene that includes bands that even touch the same musical subgenres.

Arguing that Primitive Man got more accessible is false argument, they just got better. The tracks in Immersion are all memorable and they co-exist in one album perfectly. As a band that can achieve heaviness like no other, one couldn't say that the same verdict has not been delivered once again. Generally, I do believe that bands from the US today tend to get too much promotion and too much praise. Especially experimental artists, who touch a bit of grindcore / black metal / noise, seem to get into a wave that favors them even though the music is supposedly extreme. On the other hand, Primitive Man I can stand and admire. Immersion could be their best album to date, not much more to say for it.

August 14th, 2020 | Relapse Records

Listen to Immersion:

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Kriegsmaschine - Deathdriven: Archive 2006 - 2010

By releasing this compilation, Kriegsmaschine now have a really tidy discography: Prism: Archive 2002 - 2004, released in 2014, covers all their material prior to the debut Altered States of Divinity, this one covers the two splits they released in between the debut and Enemy of Man, and the rest are the infamous full lengths. Neither the split with Infernal War nor the split with Szron come quickly to mind when thinking of the band, especially when they have released such monstrous albums recently, yet the quality of the material is equally powerful and in a structural sense, even more approachable than the slow-paced yoke they enforce with what came afterwards. In this time period, Kriegsmaschine laid the foundation and were slowly taking form, before exploding with Enemy of Man in 2014, one of the best black metal albums of all time. 

Deathdriven starts "backwards", as the first thing featured is the Transfigurations split that was originally released in 2010. Both tracks are massive, the guitar work is exceptional and the evoking atmosphere is naturally closer to what was composed for the full length that followed. These two pieces are hidden gems in the band's discography and they get along really well together, how one gives way to the next almost feels like it is one whole piece. "Onward Destrudo" has this KSM crushing tempo and quite memorable riffing here and there, while "Fear and Loathing in Gesthemane" can't help but make someone wonder where they thought of the title? Could be slight reference to the unconventional black comedy Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the eight minute song describes Christ's struggle from an absolutely human, regretting angle, but I think it doesn't really depict Kriegsmaschine's finest lyrical work. On the other hand, "Onward Destrudo" is perfect in all sections.

Following are the three tracks from the Szron split from 2006, and they lay in the same area as the material from the album they are closest to, Altered States of Divinity. The familiar, painful shouting vocals, along with chants, are present, at times the band goes full speed, which became sparser and sparser until it completely disappeared later on. This is an extra reason to listen to this compilation if you're a fan of the band mainly for the latest records. For example, parts of "E" as well as "The Fall in All its Glory" employ the traditional black metal framework of frenetic speed. The lyrics are nothing less than impressive and the talent of this band in general, gloriously shines through this release.

Sometimes compilations are void of meaning, but Deathdriven is a good opportunity for you to purchase and own this part of Kriegsmaschine's discography. The five tracks contained have been possibly left on the shelf due to the exposure the last two full lengths have gotten, but I don't see anything lesser here in terms of quality. A blast from the recent past to remind their audience of their early endeavors, and to never skip a mini-release. In my opinion, Deathdriven is totally worth it and makes up of a fine listen, something that is quite rare among compilations even from well-acclaimed bands.

Find it here: No Solace Store

Saturday, August 08, 2020

Converging singularity - Interview with Utkena

Whoever listened to Utkena's EP last year, The Firmament's Hand, should have been very positively predisposed for their debut full length Nex Fornix, released this June on Pest Productions. They offered an even more compelling listen on this record and showed that they are currently in a great orbit, as a band that is quickly rising and growing with top-notch material. References can be found when listening to their music, yet the sound of Utkena is definitely unique and sincere, making them a group that is worth the attention of everyone in the underground. In this interview, concepts behind the band and the album were discussed, as well as the ongoing situation and their plans.


Wednesday, August 05, 2020

On Myrkur's "M"

This is a piece I wrote five years ago when Myrkur released her debut album M, through Relapse Records. During the period 2014 - 2015 there was a lot of talking around this project and especially their initial self-titled EP, there was still a lot of mystery surrounding it so the actual first full length was a bit of a big deal. The following was more of a rant, a series of thoughts I had for the record and its conditions, unfiltered and not written down as proper text, but more like a reaction. I hadn't posted it here then and it's interesting to read it in retrospect, half a decade later with more Myrkur material to contemplate upon. 


A new Myrkur release inside 2015 was a given in my mind, when I was thinking of upcoming releases back in the beginning of the year. With the ridiculous amount of promotion this project got when the debut, self-titled EP was released in 2014, it was only reasonable to continue and bring together a full album while the news are hot. It seems like this Danish woman managed to draw the attention of the whole metal scene and with her brainchild “M”, all the hype and the fame is put to the test.

The record contains eleven new compositions and a total length of thirty six minutes of music, sticking to Danish titles instead of English, as in the EP. It was produced by Ulver's Garm, a person who has stayed close to the band from the start and naturally, Myrkur remind of Ulver a lot. I would not hesitate to say they reach the magnificence of Ulver's early discography, but it is in the same spectrum and that's good for the fans. The core of “M” is it's atmosphere, which is built by ambient sounds, ethereal vocals and the slow-paced guitar melodies. One can understand the essence of the record if one looks at Amalie Bruun's musical roots. She has stated that she grew up with classical and choral music, and how “M” is a combination of classical music and the traditional black metal feels of nature, mountains and forests, rivers and fogs. So, if you can imagine spending time alone in the forests of Denmark, this could easily be the soundtrack of the adventure. Being a pianist as well, there are a lot of moments of keyboards around the album too.

What seperates it and makes the sound distinctive is definitely the vocals. There are multi-layered choral vocals everywhere, much more often than the harsh black metal screams and I believe it's what characterizes the album and the musician behind it. There are tracks with vocals only, like “Vølvens spådom” and “Byssan lull”, which combines her supernal voice with a soft piano line. Apart from Garm, there are other famous musicians involved in the record, like Teloch from Mayhem and Øyvind Myrvoll from Nidingr. In “Mordet”, which is one of the most direct metal tracks of the record, no other than Christopher Amott of Arch Enemy did some of the guitar parts. “M” is mostly middle paced and it's guitar lines are close to post-black metal and a bit of doom, at some points and some riffs. It's soft and dreamy for the most part. It flows naturally, even when it gets angrier, like in parts of the first two tracks or in the penultimate, “Skaði”. The outro is a melancholic and lovely piano piece that I absolutely enjoyed.

However, after spending time on it, it hasn't quite settled and it hasn't left me impressed. It's not like the times when you listen to Wodensthrone and you feel it in your bones, you feel like “yes this is atmospheric pagan black metal”. It is one of the times that you are baffled by a band's reputation compared to their music. Myrkur are already an act everyone knows and when you listen to the music, you know it's Myrkur for sure. Amalie has fused her tastes perfectly and she has created a wonderful, easy-listening record that praises, above all, nature and many people will be blown away. In hindsight though, I'm not sure if I myself am completely convinced with the result. Some elements are somehow rudimentary (like some of the guitar ideas) and it holds a position where, it unfolds a bit of a more violent side with excellent screams but then again focuses on the melodic, clean atmosphere. I would like more intense black metal in the record and the record itself demands it at times. With it's strong moments, it also has other parts where it's just generic.

I was frustrated with the way Relapse treated Myrkur, giving them so much push everywhere with advertisements, mini movies and bold statements like “the future of black metal”. Really? This is surely NOT the future of black metal. I would label the band being much of black metal either, apart from a couple of aforementioned tracks, since the influences from atmospheric, classical and folk music are stronger in my opinion. In fact, this is less black metal than Myrkur was in the EP. Amalie's music is unrestrained and tricking fans into believing this is black metal does not stand well for me. It was all about a mysterious female nymph living in the woods and creating music, for some time the world didn't know her identity and I felt like it was all an income driven manipulation for the metal listeners.

With the explosion of atmospheric black metal the recent years (and many bands being born for this reason only, sadly I don't know if Myrkur come from that basket yet) I'm gonna be mentioning again and again the French act Alcest, because they should finally get the attention they deserve. As for Myrkur, I think “M” is a “proper” album that fits its purpose and will get solid feedback. Many people, and most of them outside black metal or even metal, will totally dig its content. Then again, I don't consider it a groundbreaking record and the next big thing. I will recommend it around for people to see for themselves and I have picked standout tracks like “Skøgen skulle dø” and “ Skaði” but that's about it. The story of a “black metal girl” reaching the stars of the metal world with her music black metal is nice indeed, but I would not approach the record like that. At all. 

It would have been much more fruitful for her to go full neofolk and release a purely acoustic record of some sort, without any metal elements. 


I'm quite happy to see that last sentence actually came true now in 2020, with Myrkur's latest release Folkesange. In a few days, M will turn five years old and whether it will still stand in some time from now (or if it is even standing now) is something for you to think about.

Listen to M: