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Archive for July, 2011

NUNFUCKRITUAL – IN BONDAGE TO THE SERPENT (Debemur Morti Productions)

Friday, July 29th, 2011

The 74th release on French label Debemur Morti Productions is going to be very, very special indeed. “In Bondage To The Serpent” – the debut album from veritable extreme metal ubercombo NUNFUCKRITUAL represents something of a departure from the norm for the imprint as it’s not the typically-excellent strain of underground Black Metal one would readily associate with DMP. Instead, it’s altogether more, well, indescribable. Indescribably brilliant.

I grew up listening to and loving bands that Dan Lilker was associated with but I sort of assumed he was yesterday’s news at this stage and never thought I’d see the mighty mop-haired one involved in anything so fresh, vibrant and relevant as this. Colluding with Teloch (Mayhem, Nidingr), Espen T. Hangard (Altaar) and Andreas Johnson (Tyrant), he has surely re-invented himself on “IBTTS”, a release that will introduce him to a whole new generation – and category – of metal fans. We also have guest slots here from Attila Csihar and Ravn (1349), so if that doesn’t pique your interest then you must be dead already.

Normally, when so many known names come together the result is a major disappointment but, incredibly, ‘In Bondage To the Serpent’ is actually greater than the sum of its individual components. The album is like the fucked-up soundtrack to your worst nightmare (everyday life, maybe?), twisted and contorted, evil and nasty, eerie and spiteful. It captures an immense atmosphere of pure and utter filth. It’s truly sick and depraved. Musically, its neither death nor black, sludge nor doom. It’s something new and unique. I won’t even try to describe it (I can’t, anyway…); you just need to hear this leviathan for yourself.

I can’t think of another existing band I’d compare NFR to. They’ve torn up the rulebook and reinvented extreme metal in a stunning new incarnation. This is totally mandatory for anyone who likes dark and evil music. Won’t be available until October but, trust me, this one will be well worth the wait.

Evilometer: 666/666

SENTIMEN BELTZA – BIZITZA OSOAN ZEHAR SORTU DEN ETSIPENAREN ONDORIOAK (Bubonic / Gorpubelatze)

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

If a better album has been released this year, then I’ve yet to hear it. As well as being quite a mouthful, ‘Bizitza Osoan Zehar Sortu Den Etsipenaren Ondorioak’ – the third full-length from Basque black metal purveyor Sentimen Beltza – is also an extraordinary workout of utterly supreme underground magnificence, further marking Oindurth SaVinitta out as a special talent that should be nurtured and cherished.

I find it astonishing (but typical) that a ‘band’ like Burzum can sell albums by the bucketload, while Sentimen Beltza remains in obscurity, hardly known or heard of. Take if from me, there is no comparison between this exceptional BM release and a lacklustre piece of shit like ‘Fallen’.

As mentioned in a previous review of SB, the Basque entity specialises in hugely emotional, plaintiff, spiritual, epic Black Metal that remains raw and forlorn throughout despite containing an addictive melodic undercurrent. For me, ‘BOZSDEO’ is a work of absolute genius that could be used as a blueprint on how to make the perfect album. It hits the nail on the head in every respect, with just the precise amount of melody, aggression, repetitiveness and melancholy to appeal to the fallen warrior in all of us.

Appreciators of bands like Drowning The Light should gobble this up but, let’s be realistic here: nobody gives a shit about great music. Quality doesn’t matter to the masses, so Sentimen Beltza will remain on the very fringes of the Black Metal underground forever. But if you want to go against the grain and hear some unbelievably good grim and atmospheric blackness, you should investigate SB further before he slips off the radar into some black hole or something.

Evilometer: 666/666

LYTHANY / VULTO – RITUAL DE PRIVACAO (Discipline)

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

This was released nearly two years ago, but it’s timeless. I’ve had it a while but decided to give it a spin again today and was reminded just how good a split release ‘Ritual de Privação’ is. Translated as ‘Deprivation Ritual’, it’s arguably one of the best Black Metal collaborations of all – and in fairness there have been some stupendous ones down through the years!

Lythany is the vehicle of InThyFlesh vocalist Sataere and – 2006 demo aside –  this split is the only proper release he has recorded thus far under that moniker (more to come, hopefully…). It’s slow-to-mid-paced morbid Black Metal full of emotion and genuine spirit. The word cult is overused in reviews but … well … I’m sure you know what I’m getting at.

Solidão’ kicks proceedings off in enchanting fashion and for the next six minutes ‘Fragmentos’ fills the listener with despair and dejection, before ‘Acto De Negação’ (‘Act of Denial’, in English) both serenades and disgusts the subject, coming through my speakers and making me feel disappointed to be alive yet elated to have such a good slab of music in my house. All in all, the four songs on here from Lythany are absolutely superb.

Vulto is also Portuguese but a little more mysterious and even more unpolished and I have no idea what the line-up of this nebulous entity is. Not that it matters. The music continues to impress immensely. ‘Desespero’ lays down a worthy marker for the second act, a soaring slice of depressive majesty – rawer and thinner than Lythany’s offerings but no less interesting. Production values are out the window by now, you’ll no doubt be glad to hear.

Whereas the first four songs sounded like they were recorded in a forest, these ones are at first more akin to drugged-out squatters jamming in a slum in some concrete jungle. Garage-y Black Metal. I think it could be the drum sound that gives me that impression; the more I listen, the rest of Vulto’s music contains that ancient, far-away BM feeling we all know and love. The sample and overall feeling of despondency on ‘Chuva Maldita’ weigh down heavily, like a storm in the soul.

The overall feel of ‘Ritual de Privação’ is authentically underground and the music is of an exceptionally high standard if you’re a Black Metal aficionado. It conjures a nasty, evil vibe and should make you a happy bunny if you manage to get your paws on a copy.

Evilometer: 555/666

FLAGELLANT – MONUMENTS LP (World Terror Committee)

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

First thing I must say about this vinyl release is that the presentation is utterly superb. The record looks and feels fantastic and the artwork etc. is stunning. The real clincher is the twelve-page 12×8 (approximately – I didn’t get out a measuring tape, just looked at it) booklet containing lyrics and further artwork. A very professional package, into which a considerable deal of thought, effort and care was invested. It enhances the buying experience no end. Everything is black and white, with colours and pansiness totally eschewed, thankfully. It’s a lovely product to have and to hold.

Musically, I found ‘Monuments’ to be a bit of a let-down, to be honest. While it’s undoubtedly a very good, standard Black Metal LP, none of the six tracks really hooked me in with any great amount of infectiousness. And the album is pretty short. It’s good but it’s not necessarily great.

I could sit and listen to this album all day and all night – pounding, fast, venomous Black Metal with a sinister hint of melody laced throughout – but the fact that I can’t think of any adjectives to describe Flagellant apart from Black Metal suggests either that this is run-of-the-mill, unspectacular BM that’s been done a thousand times before or that I’m running out of steam as a critic.

Perhaps it’s the latter; I have been feeling weary of late.

Don’t get me wrong: ‘Monuments’ is a good listen. I believe Flagellant have deliberately gone with this strain of no-frills, in-your-face Black Metal. They are exactly what they are, with no pretentions to grandeur or modern trends or post-this / post-that shite.

All in all, I would recommend buying this record due to the wonderful value-for-money, eye-catching presentation and the small matter of some killer BM. While it is unlikely to change your life or blow your mind, it’s nonetheless a nice one to own. Well-played, nicely-written and shamelessly derivative stuff for Black Metal purists and those who aren’t seeking anything particularly new in their music.

Evilometer: 444/666

ENDSTILLE – INFEKTION 1813 LP (Season Of Mist)

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

Not a band I’ve followed with great interest, to be honest. Was always put off by the imagery; I’m not a big fan of panzer / blitzkrieg style Black Metal, so Endstille have always been kept at arm’s length. Until now. I decided to give the new LP a try – on a whim, more than anything – and it’s a decision I’m pleased with. I bought the coloured vinyl, which is sort of transparent more than colour, but who really cares about such technicalities?

The lyrical themes are pretty much the same as always but the Germans’ seventh full-length album is greatly enhanced by the presence of Zingultus behind the mike. This singer has performed with some of my favourite German BM acts over the years (Graupel, Nagelfar…) and – without being in any way disrespectful to his predecessor – he delivers a suitably superb performance on ‘Infektion 1813’, tearing through the full gamut of rasps and roars. There are some nice chants too on tracks like ‘Bloody H’ and ‘The Deepest Place On Earth’, which add to the melodiousness and catchiness of the LP (no harm as a counterpoint to the harsher parts as long as it isn’t overdone).

That’s not to say that Endstille have lost much of their aggressive edge. While they have toned the violence down and become a little more diverse, they’re still heavy as hell itself and I think this collection of BM tunes should appeal to those, for example, who appreciate the newer Marduk material. Personally, I believe Marduk have improved immeasurably since Mortuus joined their ranks (all of seven years ago! Hard to believe…) and I would draw a parallel between that and what is happening with Endstille.

Endstille have matured, but not in a bad way. But there is still room for further improvement. I see this album as a bridge. It’s a first step in a new direction. It’s a good LP but, in honesty, not a great one. It tends to get bogged down and monotonous at times and it doesn’t hold my interest from start to finish. Having said that, ‘World Aflame’ and ‘Wrecked’ are two of the best songs I’ve heard this year. The magnificent, mid-paced ten-minute closing track ‘Endstille (Völkerschlächter)’ is even better.

Therefore, I’d still insist that ‘Infektion 1813’ is better than 90% of the shit out there and the record version is a must-own. The follow-up will be interesting. With more conviction in what they’re doing and perhaps better use of Zingultus’ voice, this line-up could produce a masterpiece a la ‘Andacht’. This one is close but doesn’t quite get there.

Evilometer: 444/666

BLACK ALTAR – DEATH FANATICISM LP (Antichristian Front Records)

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Black Altar is probably the most criminally-underrated Black Metal artist around. The Polish entity has barely put a hoof wrong throughout his career and ‘Death Fanaticism’ – which originally saw the darkness of night on CD three years ago – really comes into its own in glorious vinyl format. Quite simply, this is one of the most essential records I’ve bought this year. If you enjoy great BM with an evil, eerie vibe, then you can’t go wrong with this 54-minute slab of malevolence.

A luxurious gatefold LP edition affords the album a new lease of life, with larger artwork than a measly CD and lyrics etc. included on the inner-fold section. But it’s the mind-blowing, horrific music that takes centre stage. For me, Black Altar captures the essence of pure evil in his music, a feat that so many other bands fail miserably to accomplish. He just possesses that something extra, a special ingredient, an innately-base sound that elevates his musick above the norm.

Unimaginative band name aside, Black Altar ticks all the boxes. Assisted by a slew of session musicians, sole member Shadow ploughs through nine tracks of infectious Black Metal, effortlessly switching between all out aggression and dark ambience as well as touching on everything in between. There’s a keen sense of melody snaking through the album, tying everything together seamlessly, and the production is everything you’d expect from an awesome underground release.

I don’t possess the adjectives or superlatives to do this one justice. Maybe I’m all written out. But suffice to say ‘Death Fanaticism’ is one of the most potent, relevant, mandatory chunks of atmospheric, raw Black Metal you’ve ever going to hear. Buy it on vinyl; it’s a decision you’ll never regret.

Evilometer: 666/666