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Archive for November, 2011

AZAGHAL – NEMESIS (Moribund Records)

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Nemesis” will be the ninth studio album from the Finnish Azaghal and I have to say all the material I’m familiar with from their back catalogue is mightily impressive. I own maybe four or five of their previous full-lengths in various formats and they’re solid affairs. The new one is equally commendable for the most part but is tainted by my old pet hate – the clean vocals. Granted, they only appear sporadically, on two tracks, I think, but this is enough to leave me gnashing my teeth in disgust.

When it comes to singing in this style, occasional is way too often for my liking. The title track, for example, is ruined and I’ll always be at a loss to understand why otherwise grim, genuinely unnerving bands like Azaghal spoil their work by including such passages. I understand it’s for variation but whatever about some ambient instrumentation here and there, choral vocals don’t work on a Black Metal album. Never have done; never will. If I want that kind of shit I’ll buy Opeth or the latest Burzum.

Anyway, you may not mind it and, as I stated, it’s only evident in very small doses. Otherwise, the album is excellent, with some great eerie parts, a massive sound and everything that Azaghal stands for honed to perfection. It could have been a really great release but, in the end, I can take it or leave it, to be honest. With no clean vocals on “Nemesis“, I’d have given it a hearty recommendation. But some of the singing drags it down to a poxy enough level, unfortunately.

Evilometer: 333/666

ATRA – IN REVERENCE OF DECAY LP (Final Agony Records)

Friday, November 25th, 2011

Atra is a one-man vehicle steered by aptly-named former Drowning The Light ghoul Blackheart, whose second thoroughly-underground full-length has been immortalised on wax by a small but commendable label that I otherwise know little about. Limited to just a hundred copies and boasting the most non-commercial feel, sound and vibe imaginable, ‘In Reverence Of Decay’ is right up my street / sewer.

It’s quite a short album, with just seven tracks plus the requisite intro and outro to fatten things up a bit but you won’t really notice because somehow the songs seem to last longer than they actually are. That’s because there’s a lot going on beneath the murky surface, so much darkness seeping through the speakers, so much ugly, twisted, raw Black Metal malevolence; you’ll be too busy wallowing in the smouldering filth to detect the passing of time or otherwise.

The songs are executed in a lo-fi manner, with the sound wibbling around all over the place at times, everything on the cusp of chaos but remaining just about under control. While the vocals are far from spectacular, they are sort of buried in the mix in a very cool way. In fact, everything’s buried in the mix. Thus, when it all breaks through in a bleak cacophony, it sounds like the early ‘90s all over again. Like when Black Metal was dangerous. Ish. This record brings me down memory lane but it also serves up music that’s bizarrely refreshing, new and different.

In a word, this is brilliant. Not that I really need to recommend it at all because the sort of people who seek out and purchase a release like this know exactly what they want and nobody who buys the decrepit, sludgy blackfest that is ‘In Reverence Of Decay’ will regret doing so. Still, thought I’d let you know anyway…

Evilometer: 666/666

 

LEVIATHAN – TRUE TRAITOR, TRUE WHORE (Profound Lore Records)

Monday, November 14th, 2011

I have never been disappointed by a Leviathan album. Without exception, Wrest’s output under this moniker has been consistently brilliant. And the new album ‘True Traitor, True Whore’ more than lives up to my lofty expectations. Not that I actually had any expectations because – like most of you – I didn’t even realise this full-length was in the pipeline.

The silence from Wrest regarding his main solo project was almost deafening since the release of ‘Massive Conspiracy Against All Life’, which landed three years ago and was hyped / billed as Leviathan’s last-ever album. Since then, the mainman has been caught up in some rather unsavoury news stories, which we should assume to have no substance whatsoever seeing as there were no criminal charges and Wrest – thankfully – is still at large.

But the whole experience has obviously had a very profound effect on him as his creative juices started to flow again and with oh so much vehemence and invective! Doesn’t take a genius to work out that this collection of tunes is aimed at the female who made those accusations – the album title says it all really, not to mention song titles like ‘Her Circle Is The Noose’, ‘Every Orifice Yawning Her Price’ and the monumental ‘Harlot Rises’.

Thankfully, the raging muse so evident in the lyrical / conceptual content doesn’t manifest itself in the actual music, which remains focused and incredibly catchy by Black Metal standards. Of course, there’s always been a certain amount of aggression in Wrest’s work anyway (fuck me, it is Black Metal after all), but what I mean to say is that these songs are no more raw and visceral than any of his previous offerings. Instead, what we have is prime Leviathan. Superb, otherworldly Black Metal with a keen psychedelic, psychotic edge.

The production is immaculate and the play-off between the cavernous, harsher components and the hypnotic, more ambient textures is a joy to behear. All in all, this is an exceptionally good volume of work that easily measures up to everything else in this towering Black Metal leviathan’s astonishing back catalogue. ‘True Traitor, True Whore’ is worthy of a place in every collection.

Evilometer: 666/666

EVILFEAST – WINTERMOON ENCHANTMENT (Nykta)

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Five sprawling tracks of atmospheric Black Metal and three enjoyable instrumentals combine to deliver almost 70 minutes of intriguing stuff. For me, there has always existed a very fine line between atmospheric and rubbish in BM, so it’s a relief to report that GrimSpirit manages to execute some very atmospheric fare without eschewing the sense of harsh menace that is so essential if an artist is to remain true to the Black Metal flag.

On ‘Wintermoon Enchantment’ – his fourth full length and first in three years – the sole Pole behind this project demonstrates that he has honed his art to a fine tee, seamlessly blending dissonant, raw-ish Black Metal with more ambient parts, culminating in an album that’s both ugly and beautiful, worthy of listening by candlelight or perhaps on earphones as you walk through dense woodlands beneath the pale glow of a shimmering moon.

While I believe this is a very good album within its own obvious limitations, I should stress that I wouldn’t expect fans of Marduk or Dark Funeral to appreciate it. But those who are fond of bands like Celestia, Drowning The Light, Marblebog and perhaps even Graveland and their ilk might find something here to sink their vampyric teeth into. There are a lot of synths on this CD but they don’t spoil it so I’m giving ‘Wintermoon Enchantment‘ a definite thumbs-up.

Evilometer: 444/666

DUSK – BOOK OF SATAN (Satanic Propaganda Productions)

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Book Of Satan’ is interesting because it manages to be unconventional without straying too far from the boundaries of what Black Metal is. To my mind, it still deserves to be categorised as Black Metal even though is certainly doesn’t stick to the tried-and-trusted template. Credit is due to Hungarian musician Shadow for producing an album that’s refreshingly different but still maintains the dark and eerie presence so vital to BM.

Having previously purchased ‘The Darksoul’s Scream’ and ‘Pray For Death’, I was familiar with Dusk’s earlier work – fairly traditional Black Metal that stays true to the formula laid down by genre-leaders such as Darkthrone and Burzum. I thought both those releases were excellent and was intrigued upon acquiring this new one as I’d read that it was different … and it doesn’t disappoint.

More ambient and ritualistic than Shadow’s previous work, ‘Book Of Satan’ is wholly spiritualistic and Satanic, slower in pace, with a very lo-fi production and a dull-as-fuck sound. The guitars are hardly there at all, pushed way to the background, the vocals / chants, synth and (dull) percussion taking prominence. The sound is deliberately murky and my speakers go apeshit when I crank the volume up. Not for everyone but unusual sonically…

Song titles constantly reference Him and His and He, leaving us in no doubt what (or who) the subject matter is. I think the dark deity would thoroughly appreciate this album and I believe it is worthy of investigation for anyone who wants to try something a little different. Fans of Ride For Revenge, for example, should enjoy ‘Book Of Satan’. On the downside, the album is very short, but it’s a triumph for quality over quantity. And  a triumph too for the rare dark arts of the Black Metal underground.

Evilometer: 555/666

FAMINE – FAMINE LP (Worthless Endeavors)

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

This one arrives from way beyond, from totally off the radar, leaving me transfixed. Quite simply, ‘Famine’ has to be one of the best Black Metal records unleashed in 2011, scoring maximum marks in every conceivable compartment. First of all, the lay-out and artwork are fantastic: an immense 200 gram vinyl wrapped in a stunning gatefold cover, complete with lyrics on the inner sleeve. Looks the part…

And sounds the part, too! Famine – the vehicle of an entity emerging out of New Jersey operating under the uber-modest moniker of Worthless – specialises in a spectacular strain of raw, grim, cold and callous Black Metal. The vocals are corrosive, desperate shrieks not for the weak of heart; the music fast and fierce, ripping through you, carrying enough venom to rip your face off from one hundred yards.

I’m at a loss to name any obvious reference points but somehow Famine reminds me of Funeral Mist, only more raw, less polished. That’s not to say this album is under-produced, because it certainly isn’t. The production is perfect and on a track like ‘Enter The Temple’ (the third of eight in total), which is slightly more bass-heavy and accessible than its two predecessors, the instruments breathe through organically, majestically. Masterful stuff.

The real clincher on ‘Famine’ is the three ambient / instrumental interludes (for want of a better word) which comprise Tracks # 4, 7 and 8 – ‘Amaru’, ‘Liber Porta Lvcis’ and ‘Curse’. The inclusion of these lends an occult, otherworldly, ethereal, esoteric bent to proceedings, rendering an already stupendous album utterly mandatory. In summing up, this is a rare and unique Black Metal record that deserves its place in any discerning collection.

Evilometer: 666/666