Thursday, May 25, 2017 20:12

Archive for June, 2012

ETERNITY – PESTIFEROUS HYMNS – REV. I-I-XXXIII (World Terror Committee)

Friday, June 29th, 2012

I find that my reviews are becoming shorter and shorter. In my defence, what of true value to the reader can one really say about a Black Metal album other than that it’s excellent (666 on my Evilometer), very good (555), fine (444), average (333), bland (222) , rubbish (111) or not even worthy of words (000)? Hell, now you know how I determine my scores…

Generally, I only review albums that I really enjoy, so I could practically write the same thing about all of these. But who the fuck in their right mind would want to read that? I bet most of you just skip straight to the mark at the bottom anyway! ‘Pestiferous Hymns – Rev. I-I-XXXIII’ is the third full-length from stellar German horde Eternity and – as you’ve probably already gleaned courtesy of a sneaky glance below – it’s every bit as brilliant as their previous two.

This is a band that Black Metal aficionados hold in high regard for very obvious reasons. Even though they are far from original or inimitable, they are a class apart when it comes to delivering good, solid, old-fashioned, Satan-worshipping, devil-may-care, from-the-gut, passionate, honest-as-the-night-is-long, balls-to-the-wall BM. Holf fuck – I’ve just come up with a new line.

Regardless of my own Bukowski-like compositional struggles, rest assured that this is a magnificent slab of atmospheric yet grim Black Metal majesty, the kind that comes around all too seldom. Roll on the vinyl edition!

Evilometer: 666/666

ISVIND – INTET LEVER LP (Kyrck Productions)

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

So Isvind finally decided to get off their arses and record a second full-length. A whopping fifteen years after “Dark Waters Stir”, “Intet Lever” surfaced in 2011 on CD and vinyl format. For obvious reasons, I opted for the latter. Considering that this was aimed at an exclusive market and therefore quite expensive to purchase, I was naturally disappointed that the label didn’t put a bit more effort into making it more attractive. Aesthetically, it’s fairly bland.

Musically, Isvind blasts out very typical mid-90s-style Black Metal. They do it well, but don’t stick out as exceptional in any manner, shape or form. I find this album quite boring, to be honest. For some reason that I can’t put my finger on, it just bounds along relentlessly without ever really going anywhere. While “Intet Lever” isn’t a bad album by any reckoning, it certainly isn’t a stand-out one either.

Often I’d be the first person to commend a band for sticking to the tried-and-trusted formula and for delivering some good old-fashioned true BM. But in Isvind’s case, I’m not convinced. Personally, I find the album to be lacking inspiration and, as such, it’s something of a non-event, unfortunately.

A harsh review, perhaps, but I am 100% on the side of the consumer and there’s nothing here to justify the unreasonably-large investment required to own a copy of this. In the end, it’s probably just as well this is limited! I expected more.

Evilometer: 222/666

COBALT – GIN 2LP (Profound Lore Records)

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Since it first arrived three years ago, “Gin” has been one of my favourite Black Metal albums of all time. Quite simply, I can’t get enough of it. The wait for a vinyl edition has been much longer than I’d have liked but at least the label has compensated for the delay by delivering the goods on all fronts – two heavy records, strong gatefold sleeve, lyric sheet included – so I feel like all my Christmases have come at once.

In many respects, Cobalt are without equal. They meld together some pretty harsh and dissonant ‘war’ BM with healthy doses of melodic sensitivity, producing a result that comes across like a blackened version of Neurosis or even Machine Head. But don’t let that put you off!!! As I write this, I’m digging some nice tribal drumming midway through the incredible ‘Two-Thumbed Fist’, the epic track that takes up most of Side C.

But, all the songs on this album are superb, in fairness. I think it’s fairly limited (too lazy to check) and I also know only too painfully that this is a pricey beast to acquire once you take shipping into consideration – especially to Europe. I got my copy from The End Records and it wasn’t too bad … EUR33 … and definitely worth every red cent.

I can’t recommend this work of art highly enough.

Evilometer: 666/666

KAEVUM – NATUR LP (Darker Than Black Records / Sabbath’s Fire Records)

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

This was released last year but I only discovered it a month or so back. Glad I did because ‘Natur’ is a really cool underground Black Metal album, even if it does clock in a tad on the short side at barely over the half-hour mark. Thirty minutes does not a full-length album make, in my book.

The intolerant Norwegians manage to squeeze plenty of atmosphere and gloom into their dark template, the second track ‘La Mitt Rike Komme’ being a prime example of this. Generally, however, the music is very simple, almost garage-style BM, coarse and old school, loaded with a genuine we-don’t-give-a-flying-fuck attitude.

There’s something undeniably appealing about Kaevum’s total lack of charm and subtlety. Their abrasiveness, uncompromising approach and indefatigable spirit render ‘Natur’ an interesting and oftentimes rewarding experience. Nasty and irreverent, raw and unforgiving, but with the slightest hint of variation, this is something of a hidden gem for those more attuned to menacing vibes than stellar production techniques.

A nice record to have and to hold; pity it’s not longer (the album and the review).

Evilometer: 444/666

SVARTSYN – THE TRUE LEGEND LP (Agonia Records)

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

First off, I must confess to being unfamiliar with the original incarnation of this album, which was spawned back in 1998 and, by the band’s admission, wasn’t blessed with the sound quality and production techniques it merits. (When has that ever been a problem in Black Metal before?!) So, with the benefit of hindsight, they’ve reissued their much-celebrated debut, with a totally new sound, partial re-recording and a modified track list (trimmed from eight songs to seven). The result is extremely impressive.

As a stand-alone, new album – even overlooking the fact that it is a reissue – ‘The True Legend’ 2012-style sounds like a genuine classic. The vinyl version also looks fantastic, with superb retro artwork, and lyrics etc. included on the inner sleeve. The music captures perfectly that all-too-elusive ancient feel (for obvious reasons), an homage to death and misanthropy executed with panache and precision and now revealed in all its glory as originally intended.

The balance between murky and clear, between raw and crisp, is spot-on; this is simply seven cuts of prime Scandinavian BM re-excavated and regurgitated for your insatiable listening pleasure. It’s not every day that a classic Black Metal album is reinvented. While my natural inclination is to be cynical about these kind of releases (the Burzum re-workings were pathetic, for example), it would be churlish of me to say anything negative about ‘The True Legend’ reborn. Wonderful stuff!

Evilometer: 555/666

MARDUK – SERPENT SERMON (Century Media)

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Serpent Sermon’ is Marduk’s twelfth full-length and their fourth with Mortuus on vocals. I’ve always preferred the Swedes’ work with the Funeral Mist mainman at the mike – particularly ‘Rom 5:12’ and ‘Wormwood’ – to their earlier, more-widely-celebrated material but I’m not so sure about this one.

Apart from the obvious question of where does Funeral Mist end and Marduk begin (and I don’t mean to be pedantic as, obviously, Arioch has a very distinctive voice…), there’s also a definite feeling that Marduk are going through the motions a bit on their latest album.

To my ears, there are a lot more fillers on here than you’d normally get on a Marduk album and the whole thing ultimately sounds a bit monotonous, stale and uninspired. Of course, it’s still Marduk so you know ‘Serpent Sermon’ is going to be better than many other albums released this year. But – selfishly, perhaps – I expected more from one of the all-time greatest Black Metal bands.

In the heel of the hunt, this is a solid enough release, containing three or four genuinely outstanding songs (and at times it borders on the magnificent, especially the stunning bonus track ‘Coram Satanae’). But, when it comes to writing Marduk’s epitaph, I don’t think ‘Serpent Sermon’ is going to be mentioned as one of their most magical hours.

A classic case of a superb band failing to live up to their own incredibly-high standards. Good but not great.

Evilometer: 333/666