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Archive for July, 2012

MALÉFICES – POVR LE SANGS (Versets Noirs)

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

This is a limited-to-150-units pro-cassette edition of the debut demo from Québécois one-man band Maléfices – the bastard brainchild of he who calls himself Serpenoire. There are seven wonderful Black Metal work-outs on ‘Povr Le Sangs’ and the sound is really pretty impressive for a demo. And for a tape. For just six Canadian dollars, this is a steal. Which makes me a thief, I suppose. I’ve been called worse…

The music on here is grim and nasty and creepy, the way Black Metal was always supposed to be. As a collection of songs goes, it’s solid, impressive and more-than-competent, always maintaining that essential true underground feel. I’ve heard so many ‘proper’ albums from big-name bands on big-name labels that couldn’t hold a candle to ‘Povr Le Sangs’ that it makes me shake with incredulity at the sheer stupidity of man.

That’s not to say this is a perfect piece of work. Far from it, in truth. But it’s a fantastic opening gambit and I’d have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending this charm-the-knickers-off-a-nun tape to those who enjoy no-gimmicks, straight-from-the-bitter-heart, old-fashioned Black Metal performed with passion and integrity. Great stuff that everyone should hunt down as a matter of priority, ‘Povr Le Sangs’ stands defiantly as the antidote to shit like Alcest, Enslaved, modern Burzum and a whole steaming host of other drivel deliverers.

Evilometer: 555/666

BONE AWL / ASHDAUTAS – SPLIT LP (Klaxon)

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Originally available as a split cassette under the Crepusculo Negro banner, this splendid split was revived in limited edition wax format by Klaxon a few months back and I’ll cut to the chase: this is mandatory stuff if you appreciate unusual, underground Black Metal. Over 50 minutes of fantastic, raw, unsophisticated black gold.

Ashdautas is part of the Black Twilight Circle and they offer forth the 22-and-a-half-minute-long ‘Vermillion Stars in Depths Familiar’ on Side A as well as the much shorter ‘Choirs Of Vice’, which for some reason has been carved onto one side of an accompanying 7” single. I’m not sure how practical it might have been to put the band’s entire 30 minutes of material onto one side of the 12-incher but it certainly would have made things a little more convenient for the listener, i.e. me.

Anyway, minor gripe aside, the actual music is stunning. From both bands. While Ashdautas are slightly more occult in feel, shimmering and shapeshifting but also raw as fuck, Bone Awl deliver – as ever – a more punky take on Black Metal that’s way more interesting and palatable than most other punk / BM hybrids I’ve chanced upon.

With shorter songs that get straight to the point (and often end suddenly without any real warning), Bone Awl hold their own on this essential release, a record which proves that there’s real life down (t)here in the deepest underground.

Evilometer: 666/666

ASH BORER – 2009 DEMO LP (Vendetta Records)

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Okay – I realise it’s only got two songs and I know it’s only 25 minutes long (nearly) but I still couldn’t resist the temptation of snapping up this demo of three years hence once I heard it was available in the glorious vinyl format. Hats off to German label Vendetta for making it happen! Ash Borer is one of the more-interesting bands in the global Black Metal pool at the moment – their split with Fell Voices and debut (self-titled) LP being mandatory – so it was intriguing to take a listen back to their embryonic stirrings.

First off, this sounds like a demo, quite trebly and wobbly at times. Having said that, the production is still pretty damned decent and the melodic parts are crisp, clear and concise. Side A comprises ‘Drukne’, which ranges between harsh and mellow passages, a beautiful helping of prime AB which is easily as good as most of what you’ll hear on a proper album this or any other year.

On Side B, we have ‘Untitled’. Fucking unreal really how many bands are coming up with untitled songs and albums these days. Seems to be the trendy thing. How long before we have an untitled person? Anyway, the song with no name outstrips most nameless, faceless entities I’ve encountered in my lifetime and completes a really, really fine record that sounds to my ears like an improved (i.e. more stripped-down) version of WITTR.

This isn’t overly-expensive to buy, either, and it looks nice in its one-sheet folding jacket. So, all in all, a worthy investment for sure.

Evilometer: 555/666

ORDER OF ORIAS – INVERSE LP (World Terror Committee)

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Inverse’ is the debut full-length from this previously-unknown-to-me Australian ensemble with a weird name. I’ve no idea what Order of Orias means but it matters not because they churn out a very enjoyable concoction that’s filthy and crude yet at the same time melodic and atmospheric. I would describe it as a spirited and crushing album laced with moments of restraint – one minute a cascading avalanche of aggression, the next a pacifying shoulder of reassurance.

Not that it’s schizo or disjointed. No, ‘Inverse’ flows beautifully as a unit, at one with itself, chaos and ire in perfect harmony with acceptance and peace. The poignancy of ‘Irreverence’ makes the hairs stand on the back of my neck, then ‘Offering’ comes along determined to rip me a new asshole. Generally, that’s the lasting impression this 50 minutes of music has on me. It makes me feel sort of sad and alone; then it fills me with a feeling of triumph and good old headbangingness.

Whether this is technically Black Metal or Death Metal is an argument for another day. It’s great stuff and that’s all that matters, really. The album is wonderfully produced and this vinyl edition is handled superbly by WTC, who have gone the extra mile and included a heavy record, gatefold sleeve, lyrics on the inner sleeve and a poster. I never use posters but I suppose it’s better to have one than not to have it. [smiley fucking face inserted here]

Evilometer: 555/666

DOLORVOTRE – DOLORVOTRE LP (The Ajna Offensive / Crepúsculo Negro)

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

THIS REVIEW HAS BEEN REMOVED ON A POINT OF PRINCIPAL AS CREPUSCULO NEGRO SWINDLED ME OUT OF MONEY. I ORDERED ITEMS FROM THEIR WEBSTORE IN GOOD FAITH BUT THEY TOOK MY CASH, SENT ME NOTHING AND THEN IGNORED ALL MY EMAILS. MAKE YOUR OWN JUDGEMENT ON SUCH PATHETIC BEHAVIOUR. NEEDLESS TO SAY, I AM NOT GOING TO PROMOTE INDIVIDUALS WHO STEAL FROM ME.

BLUT AUS NORD – WHAT ONCE WAS … LIBER II EP (Debemur Morti Productions)

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Fuck me, these guys are in a rich vein of form. With the astonishing ‘777’ trilogy of full-length albums just completed, they’ve also found time to produce the second part of the parallel-running ‘What Once Was’ trilogy of EPs (a series of separate but related releases…). And, true to form, ‘Liber II’ is an unmitigated success.

An astonishing half-hour of musick that sits beautifully on two sides of a noble record, ‘What Once Was … Liber II’ is right up there as surely one of Blut Aus Nord’s most chaotic, gnarly, unhinged and downright schizophrenic recordings to date. At times, it seems to be all over the place, yet with repeated listens it fits together perfectly, like a hammer and a face.

As demented, eerie and utterly bizarre as this EP is, it is also completely essential. So insane that it borders on genius, the haunting, spectral ‘Liber II’ is a logical progression from its predecessor and also a fabulous piece of art in its own right. To clinch the deal, DMP have housed the record in a fantastic heavy duty gatefold cover, which is right up there with the most awesome collectibles you are going to own.

To sum up: an amazing record; an incredible package; and a mandatory work of art. By the way, ‘Liber I’ –which was pretty damn good first time around but has already sold out its initial print – has been reissued in a similar housing and both records look as wondrous as they sound. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: neither this band nor this label can do any wrong at the moment.

Evilometer: 666/666

DEATHSPELL OMEGA – DROUGHT MLP (Norma Evangelium Diaboli)

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

Generally speaking, I don’t place much stock in EPs or mini-albums due to the disappointing disparity between the paltry amount of music and the still-considerable price of admission. A typical MLP costs almost as much as a full-length but is perhaps half as long – poor value in any man’s language. On the other hand, we are kind of railroaded into purchasing these stopgap releases as, well, how else do we get to own the new tracks? And, in fairness, many EPs are really good…

In the case of Deathspell Omega, their latest MLP comprises six new songs (including the obligatory intro and outro) spread over the course of 21 magical minutes. When the fare is as fantastic as this, it’s difficult to be critical. The band could easily have slowed things down a bit and made this release a little longer but instead they go hell for leather, tearing through the songs at breakneck speed but still infusing plenty of trademark DsO technicality into the mix.

The record comes with a great cover and an inlay with the lyrics included and, for obvious reasons, represents a much better buy than the CD version. Including postage, it will set you back almost the same as an album proper, but this is definitely one instance where quality reigns over quantity (though, obviously, I crave more). Deathspell Omega are on fire on this mini album and I have no hesitation in declaring that ‘Drought’ is as intense, complete and well-rounded as most full-length albums.

Superb stuff. Try not to let the length (or lack of it) put you off – just listen to the record twice each time you take it out!

Evilometer: 666/666

VERDUNKELN – WEDER LICHT NOCH SCHATTEN 2LP (Ván Records)

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

As a long-time watcher of these Germans, I was pleasantly surprised to catch their second full-length try to slip by me, sneaking along under the radar. To say there was no fanfare accompanying this release would be an exercise in understatement. One day it was just there. On the Ván website. Double vinyl edition, too. What a pleasant surprise on an otherwise uneventful, wet weekday afternoon! Had to check it out…

My initial impression was one of disappointment. I think the 2xLP format is worthy of a gatefold jacket and there is none with this. Also, the running time of 49 minutes doesn’t quite justify a double vinyl – I was expecting at least an hour of music. This etching-on-Side-D nonsense really pisses me off, too. Who wants to own one side of a record with an etching on it? That’s like a TV screen made from tin foil. Pointless. Worthless.

On the plus side, there is a lyric sheet included and a poster … and the card that the record sleeve is constructed from is quite cool (digging the bottom of the barrel?). Also, the artwork looks fabulous in the 12”x12” scale. On to the music, then…

Well, Verdunkeln more or less deliver the goods, especially on the three epic tracks – ‘Am Ende Des Abgrunds’, ‘Die Letzte Legion’ and ‘Weder Licht Noch Schatten’. They play a slow-to-mid-paced doomy strain of Black Metal that’s unmistakably German – and one could argue not really Black Metal at all. More like black rock or black doom. Performed in the native tongue and conjuring up images of olden days, ancient faces, battles perhaps. I’ve noticed that a lot of the music I’ve been listening to lately has a nostalgic vibe going on and this record-and-a-half seems to fit into that category, though I really have no idea what they are talking about…

This isn’t raw in any way. And Verdunkeln aren’t BM in the traditional sense – if in any sense at all. Generally, the vocals aren’t snarled or screeched. They are more spoken / whispered but arguably no less effective for that. A strong sense of melody runs through the music, but to my ears it all becomes kind of boring. I thought both ‘Einblick In Den Qualenfall’ and the vinyl version of the self-titled demo were better – though it has been a while since I listened to either.

All in all, ‘Weder Licht Noch Schatten’ is a good enough (2?)LP but not a brilliant one and the not-worth-a-flying-fuck Side D mars the record big time.

Evilometer: 333/666

DEFUNTOS – RESTOS DE UMA VIDA ANTIGA (Cocainacopia)

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Surely one the most-underrated Black Metal bands of all time, Defuntos have been releasing all manner of magnificence for the past five years, including five superb full-length albums, a couple of neat 7” EPs, some splits and a few demos.  ‘Restos De Uma Vida Antiga’ is a demo cassette of the quality of a non-demo recording, which was unleashed last year; I have no idea what the limitation of this is but I’m pretty certain it’s going to be quite difficult to acquire. Had to jump through a hoop or two myself, but it was worth the effort.

Cocainacopia have done a fabulous job with this special edition cassette release. The blue chrome cassette is cased within a cool box with booklet and lyrics included, not to mention some typical fading-brown Defuntos artwork centred around themes of the past and, well, death. Ancient times and death – that’s what Defuntos is all about in a nutshell.

The truly astonishing thing about the music made by these Portuguese brothers is that they only use drums, bass and vocals (and organ only on the last tune here: ‘A Desgraçada Vindoura’) – from which is conjured a genuinely dark and disturbing mood. Quite a trick. The two tracks proper on this demo are bleak and downbeat; the instrumentals that bookend them sombre and sorrowful. I would thoroughly recommend tracking down every release these guys have put their name to but ‘Restos De Uma Vida Antiga’ would be as good a place to start as any seeing as it’s such a well-presented and fine-looking piece of poignancy.

Evilometer: 666/666

YHDARL – THE ESSENCE II (Schattenkult Produktionen)

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Here’s a style of Black Metal I haven’t experienced often. Belgian duo Yhdarl opt for a spontaneous-sounding, improvised brand of droning, chaotic blackness that’s at times extremely difficult to digest. ‘The Essence II’ – their sixth full-length – is genuinely headache-inducing madness which treads a dangerous thin line between being great and being unlistenable.

Even though I found this tape to be hard going (not often I say that), I’m prepared to give Yhdarl the benefit of the doubt and conclude that ‘The Essence II’ is more than mere lunacy. Like an extreme, blackened version of Khanate, this music is extreme in every sense, getting right under your skin, unnerving you. It’s like the soundtrack to your worst nightmare. In fact, I could imagine this being used by interrogators to detract information from even the most seemingly-unbreakable of witnesses. Ten hours solid of this and even Satan himself would spill the beans and run home crying to mammy with his tail tucked between his legs.

Not much more to say about this: four songs, with a total time of close to an hour, of demented, feverish black drone that could conceivably rip the skin from you face. As ever, the cassette is available for a mere pittance so the price of admission is so low that purchasing ‘The Essence II’ could barely be construed as a gamble. Give it a go if you want to hear something truly crazy. But, be warned, this is not for everybody – far from it, in fact!

Evilometer: 444/666

INSANE VESPER – ABOMINATION OF DEATH LP (Obscure Abhorrence Productions)

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

So Insane Vesper’s debut full-length gets the vinyl treatment from Obscure Abhorrence and it’s immediately apparent that label head honcho Andreas has done a superb job with this wax edition, more than doing justice to the wonderful songs contained withon. Good solid, sturdy cover (seems to be made of different cardboard than usual?); poster; lyric sheet; and a noble (as they say in the industry) record. Ten out of ten for the professionalism of the presentation.

As for the actual music – which, of course, is of primary importance – well, I am certainly a fan of this French four-piece, who have been plying their trade for a decade already, making sure they had honed their craft before delivering an album on the discerning populace at large. The result is suitably impressive – a collection of tunes that stands toe-to-toe and shoulder-to-shoulder with the best the genre has to offer.

Instrumental opener ‘Suscipiat Daemone …’ sets the tone in suitably-evil and –eerie Omen-esque fashion and the three subsequent killer ‘songs proper’ on Side A remain interesting for their full duration(s). Ditto Side B. Mid-paced, menacing Black Metal that just bounces along confidently and organically, ‘Abomination Of Death’ commands your full attention and rewards in abundance. Thoroughly enjoyable stuff.

Okay, this is clearly not the most-ambitious or ground-breaking music you’re going to encounter this side of the apocalypse (how many times have we said that?) but it is nonetheless reassuringly solid Black Metal performed with conviction, integrity and no-little-skill. With some nice touches of variation scattered sparsely throughout the mix, Insane Vesper’s debut is a thrilling dark voyage and an all-out winner on all fronts.

Evilometer: 555/666

RAHU – THE QUEST FOR THE VAJRA OF SHADOWS (Ahdistuksen Aihio Productions)

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Here’s a record that’s thoroughly-deserving of your attention. One of the first things to strike me about Rahu’s debut full-length, ‘The Quest For The Vajra Of Shadows’ is that, aesthetically, it is an atypical Black Metal release. No clichéd black-and-white colours here; we have a sea-blue-ish cover with some beautiful oceanic artwork contained within a framework of essentially bright, vibrant colouring. Nice packaging and inlay, too.

So we know it’s not raw Black Metal. At least not in the conventional sense…

Instead, we get rather ambient, atmospheric fare that somehow manages to maintain a grim overcoat. The songs are mystical and charismatic, wet and murky, awash with emotion, harking back to the glory days of Scandinavian BM but also introducing an added 5% of their own to render the whole thing slightly unique and unusual. Enough to silence the critics who are always so quick to say of Black Metal: “I’ve heard it all before”. Now they will have to change their tune to “I’ve heard 95% of that before”.

Equal parts an antidote to depressive Black Metal and a natural successor to, let’s say, Odium, ‘The Quest For The Vajra Of Shadows’ is an album that you need to experience to fully appreciate. It is, therefore, almost futile for me to be rabbiting on about it. Mostly mid-paced and catchy as hell, it veers towards the melodic side of the spectrum a little more than I’d ideally like, but that’s just a small quibble about an otherwise intriguing record produced by these veterans of the Finnish underground.

Evilometer: 555/666