Saturday, September 23, 2017 21:47

Archive for May, 2012

BLUT AUS NORD – MEMORIA VETUSTA I: FATHERS OF THE ICY AGE LP (Debemur Morti Productions)

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Are you inherently cynical, like me? Is it engrained in your DNA to be automatically suspicious of everything, especially musical recommendations? Have you ever laughed hysterically to yourself upon hearing the phrase ‘timeless classic’?

Are you sick of having substandard shit shoved down your throat by essentially dishonest, impartial reviewers who are interested only in masturbating their advertisers? Perhaps you need a blast of Blut Aus Nord’s peerless sophomore full-length to restore your faith in a subgenre that’s been prostituted, pimped and flogged to death by decades of media abuse…

Sixteen years on from its original release, ‘Memoria Vetusta I: Fathers Of The Icy Age’ has been lovingly given the vinyl treatment by maverick French label Debemur Morti. This is a colossal release in every respect.

With stunning new artwork and a 180g record available in either gold or grey vinyl, new life is breathed into a magnificent collection of songs that epitomises the first chapter of BAN’s uniquely stellar recording career. On this album, you will hear a band much different from the Blut Aus Nord we all know and love today – but equally brilliant.

As ever with this label and / or band, you cannot go wrong with this.

Evilometer: 666/666

CLAIR CASSIS – CLAIR CASSIS LP (Starlight Temple Society)

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Clair Cassis is Velvet Cacoon in all but name. For some reason, the oft-maligned VC opted to change their name; I can’t imagine why. Anyway, the debut album under the more-recent moniker was committed to vinyl in 2010 but I’ve only acquired it within the past month or so … thus the late, late review. Matters not when reviews surface, though, as good music is timeless – or should be.

I was a big admirer of the original incarnation of the band – ‘Genevieve’ and ‘Northsuite’ are pretty cool albums and their more spacey later work was also intriguing – but I sort of half-expected Clair Cassis to be a pale imitation of the original for some reason. A watered-down version or a cop-out… Not the case, thankfully. The self-titled debut delivers some lush, lo-fi, atmospheric Black Metal that is both unnerving and soothing, raw yet melodic and ambient.

While the music fluctuates between harsh(ish (but hardly)) and sweet, the vocals are always caustic and agonised. Very good vocals, I would venture. This is a relatively short full-length at just 33 minutes but – although limited to 500 copies – it can still be acquired reasonably cheaply (new; not from speculators) and represents a very solid purchase. You don’t have to buy new albums all the time; sometimes the older ones are better.

I would be amazed if anybody bought this and wasn’t impressed.

Evilometer: 555/666

FJORSVARTNIR – LEGIONS OF THE NORTH (Grom Records)

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

Pagan Black Metal and melodic Black Metal are dubious areas I tend to avoid like the plague, for obvious reasons. Anything to do with Vikings and longships and runestones and battles of the north will generally cause me to run a mile – and I’m a lazy sod. However, Danish one-man outfit Fjorsvartnir caught my attention because the debut album ‘Legions Of The North’ is actually quite good (considering). Shock. Horror. Yeah, I know.

Well, it’s not brilliant, to be frank, but within the limitations of what this rather pompous and overly-triumphant, fist-clenching, flamboyant subgenre allows, this release is more than acceptable. Of course, it’s overly melodic (which is par for the course) but there are some aggressive parts and occasional harsh vocals. It’s well-produced, heavier than I’d have expected, and dare I say catchy as Hell?

I’m not going to go over the top with my praise or bring any undue work upon myself by writing a detailed review (not that I ever do) seeing as this kind of BM is pretty much outside my own personal comfort zone. But it’s pretty good stuff and should do the trick for anyone who craves solid Pagan Black Metal or melodic Black Metal with a proud, epic feel and some hummable parts that will stick in your mind. Maybe.

Evilometer: 333/666

KRATER – NOCEBO LP (Eternity Records)

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

The CD version of Krater’s sophomore full-length came out last summer but I held out for the vinyl edition, having already purchased the exquisite 2LP of ‘Das Relikt Des Triumphes’ a few years back.  I was expecting something grand with this new one and I haven’t been disappointed.

The label has done a wonderfully professional and eye-catching job with this release, which looks and sounds fantastic – the inclusion of a lovely little booklet with lyrics and some nice pics and artwork is an added bonus. Musically, the German quartet are under-rated.

I spotted ‘DRDT’ hanging around in a lot of webstore bargain baskets and honestly can’t understand how and why that album wasn’t gobbled up by the masses. Somehow it slipped under the radar … shame. The follow-up is equally impressive, although I must admit that Krater are doing nothing new on here. It’s run-of-the-mill Black Metal for the most part … but isn’t that what Black Metal fans should crave? When it’s as well executed as this, I really can’t get enough.

In short, this one isn’t going to change the landscape of the underground and it doesn’t try to redefine the genre in any way whatsoever. ‘Nocebo’ simply delivers eight slabs of solid, fairly melodic BM (plus an Intro), including the twelve-minute closing epic ‘Zerrissen’, which is worth the price of admission on its own.

I’d recommend moving fairly quickly if you wish to acquire this record, however, as Eternity’s vinyl releases are usually limited and often end up in the hoggish hands of glorified touts.

Evilometer: 555/666

ENTHRONED – OBSIDIUM LP (Agonia Records)

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

Enthroned truly is a strange beast. Active since 1994, they’ve released a grand total of nine full-lengths including this current one. But, who exactly is they? None of the original members remain in the band. Indeed, the line-up now is totally different to that which unleashed the awesome debut ‘Prophecies Of Pagan Fire’.

Frontman Nornagest, who joined in 1995 (shortly after the aforementioned ‘POPF’ was recorded) and who handles vocals and guitars, seems to be the one who has held the Belgian troupe together through good and bad times. They’ve certainly had their lows over the years (including the death by suicide of founding member Cernunnos in ’97), but ‘Obsidium’ is arguably their finest hour (or 40 minutes, to be precise).

My expectations for this album weren’t too high, to be honest. Its predecessor ‘Pentagrammaton’ was a real disappointment and suggested to me that Enthroned were a spent force, happy to just go through the motions and survive on their moderately-cult status. How wrong was I? Two years later, they have followed one of their weakest releases with one of their strongest. Tired and washed up? Too old? Irrelevant? Fuck no.

While Enthroned never stray far from the template of pure evil, neck-breaking, pedal-to-the-metal Black Metal, they do what they do so well that they really are a joy to behear when they hit form like this. It would be easy for dyed-in-the-wool scene veterans to dismiss ‘Obsidium’, to just say ‘I’ve heard it all before’, but if you’ve already listened to this album and written it off I suggest you give it another spin and ask yourself how often have you heard blasting, in-your-face BM performed with such passion, panache and skill.

An atmosphere of old-fashioned devil-may-care badness prevails throughout and the production is pretty damn perfect, letting every blow through in just the right measure. For prime, unsophisticated black carnage with a fantastic sound, some face-melting guitar-work, drumming like the end of time and a feral spirit at its very core – all cased in a hard black shell – look no further. On ‘Obsidium’ the old guard have laid down a bold marker, defiantly showing the pretenders to their throne how this shit is done.

The result is a lethal, devastating exhibition of Black Metal ferocity with the merest hints of atmosphere and melody. By the way, it would be remiss of me not to point out how utterly magnificent and disturbing the seventh incantation of nine, ‘Petraolevm Saliva’, is… Or that ‘Thy Blight Vacuum’ is nigh on the best closing track an album of this ilk has ever showcased. Agonia has done an excellent job with the (180g) vinyl edition, which includes a 12×12 inner sheer with lyrics / pics etc. – a nice touch.

Evilometer: 555/666

ILL OMEN – DIVINITY THROUGH UN-CREATION LP (Analog Worship)

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Divinity Through Un-creation’ is the debut full-length from challenging and crushing Australian horde Ill Omen and it’s a foul, dank gust of fetid vapour. This is oppressive, dark, deathly Black Metal that suffocates relentlessly, wrapping its deviant fingers around your throat, squeezing the very air from your windpipe, leaving you weak and disorientated. In other words, it is absolutely fantastic.

The dense atmosphere prevalent across the entire duration of this record makes it difficult going at times but it is worth the effort and, after a dozen or so listens, the full delights of the album should have revealed themselves to you. Not that it’s a ‘grower’ necessarily, the excellence of these tunes should be apparent to you instantly. Upon first listen, you will realise that Ill Omen is a little bit special.

Words like ‘occult’ and ‘esoteric’ have been over-used to such an extent to describe middle-of-the-road Black Metal that it almost feels like I’m doing Ill Omen a disservice to bring them up here but, honestly, if this isn’t prime occult esoterica in a black shell then I don’t know what is. By the time you get to the end of Side A, which closes on an immense high with ‘The Great Keys Inherit’, you will be converted / hooked / gagging for more.

Flip the record over and there are three more songs proper to be enjoyed (including the brilliantly-named and awe-inspiring mid-paced dirge “I, Sate Atop The Throne, Of A Thousand Burning Stars...”) plus the obligatory ambient outro, bringing the whole experience to a mind-melting 40-odd minutes. As ever, the vinyl format does remarkable justice to an already-magnificent collection of tunes. On record, this stunning, evil, nasty album looks and feels as good as it sounds.

The weird antipodeans have only conjured some of the most intriguing, disciplined chaos you’re going to hear – ever.

Evilometer: 666/666