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Archive for December, 2012

NIGHTBRINGER / ACHERONTAS – THE RUINS OF EDOM LP (Agonia Records)

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

I bought this split LP mainly for the Nightbringer side, as I’m not especially a huge fan of Acherontas (despite the rave reviews appearing elsewhere). However, I am pleased to report that the two offerings vomited forth by the Greek combo in this instance are devilishly impressive. Throw in the by-now-guaranteed solid contribution from Nightbringer and ‘The Ruins Of Edom’ is a definite winner.

Previous exposure to Acherontas led me to believe they were overly melodic and almost pompous in a puke-y Summoning sort of way, but I detect little of this on the ambitious eight-minute harsh Black Metal work-out ‘Layil’. The ensuing ‘Reverence For The Scarlet Goddess’ is atmospheric and keyboard-driven, something akin to what I had believed Acherontas was all about before entry, but in fairness it’s more an ambient masterpiece than an exercise in pomposity. Perhaps I will have to revise my opinion of this particular band…

Nightbringer delivers two typically-convoluted tracks of intelligent, wordy, philosophical Black Metal, bookended by a couple of clever instrumentals / ambient passages, proving once more that they are one of the United States’ premier proponents of the occult. Truly brilliant stuff that gets better with each listen. I would recommend purchasing this record for the Nightbringer presentations alone (as I did), but the Acherontas tunes arrived as a pleasant surprise.

Even though the whole thing signs off in little over 30 minutes, ‘The Ruins Of Edom’ is probably as fine a split release as you’re likely to acquire these days, imbued with a menacing atmosphere and cased within a lovely cover with lyrics and additional artwork printed on the inner sleeve. A lovely record, all told.

Evilometer: 555/666

UNKNOWN ARTIST – UNTITLED LP (Ancient Records)

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

Not sure what to say about this one. Is it a gimmick or a work of pure genius? Perhaps I’m too dumb to know the difference. No information is given on the artist(s), though I’m of the uneducated understanding that there is some form of connection with Reverorum ib Malacht. There are no song titles, no album title, nothing. Zilch. Nada. Fuck all. Just a black record in a black sleeve with the catalogue number printed on the back (AR013). So all we can focus on is the music

I don’t even know which is Side A and which is Side B. So I just lob it on and hope for the best. A racket ensues. Chaotic drumming roars through the speakers. The drums are so prominent in the mix that I’m wondering is this just a drum rehearsal. Way in the background, there are occasional howls and screams, the vaguely-discernible sound of what might be guitars. A barrage of noise. Carnage. My head throbs.

It’s just pummel, pummel, pummel, pummel all the way. The drummer is in a bad mood. As I said at the beginning, I have no idea what to make of this record. Have I paid €18 for a pile of shit? Am I myself a pile of shit? What has this got to do with Black Metal? What have I got to do with Black Metal? Where does madness end and sanity begin? WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS? And where do I file it in my library?

Evilometer: ???/666

LVXCÆLIS – MYSTERIA MYSTICA MAXIMA XXIII (Lamech Records / Barghest)

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

Regardless of what the future may – or may not – hold for this website, it would be remiss of me to let 2012 pass without bearing witness to one of the finest releases of the year. Chilean trio LvxCælis conjured an incredible debut full-length, comprising ten magnificent songs, clocking in at 50 minutes and given a sumptuous eight-panel digipak treatment by two of the most exciting labels in existence right now.

Aesthetically and stylistically, LvxCælis remind me quite a bit of the excellent Dødsengel, though they do have a sound of their own (sort of). The stunning songs are broken up by some stellar ambient interludes and the overall atmosphere of this album is menacing, eerie, majestic and horrific. Any time there’s a slight worry that proceedings might become tiresome or monotonous, along comes another magical atmospheric interjection from an inspired band at the very peak of its power.

Anybody with even the slightest appreciation of Black Metal will surely enjoy ‘Mysteria Mystica Maxima XXIII’. In fact, anyone with a pulse should revel in the glories to be found herein. This is a superb recording in every way and is without doubt one of those rare CDs truly worthy of overused adjectives like ethereal, esoteric and eclectic. Inspirational stuff.

Evilometer: 666/666

BLACK METAL REVIEWS: THE END IS NOW

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Due to a debilitating lack of time, I have reluctantly decided to bring Black Metal Reviews to an immediate end. This site – which started as fun – has unfortunately become a chore and my reviews are increasingly rushed and less interesting. It is pointless continuing in such a half-hearted, incompetent manner. The plug is therefore pulled.

KVALM – DEMO 2012 (Atavism Records)

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

For a demo, this cassette is quite impressive. Over the course of 30 minutes, French duo Kvalm dish out five tracks of searing, under-produced Black Metal plus the almost obligatory intro and outro. Kvalm is the Norwegian word for nauseous and I suppose that fact alone could spark all kinds of debates as to whether they sound more French or Norwegian. Me, I don’t give a fuck either way – I’ve never really been able to detect such subtle differences. Black Metal is universal-ish to my poor ears.

Anyway, the music on here is rough and ready, harsh, discordant and aggressive. It sounds like it was recorded live in a garage or shed. Wait, it probably was. Clearly, ‘Demo 2012’ isn’t going to change the world or send shockwaves through the underground. But it’s still an interesting excursion that hints at greater things to come. Some of the musicianship is noticeably ambitious (in a refreshing way) and I’ll definitely be interested in seeing what Kvalm conjures next.

Evilometer: 333/666

BLODFEST – ILD VIST ULMER LP (Ancient Darkness Productions)

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

The fifth full-length from these balaclava-clad Danes emerged on cassette last year courtesy of Phlegm Productions  and is now available on vinyl thanks to Ancient Darkness Productions. Including the bonus track – a Nuclear Death cover – we get eleven songs in total with a running time of around 40 minutes.

Blodfest unapologetically blast out harsh, thrashing, uncompromising Black Metal with all the subtlety of a boot in the testicles or a hammer to the jaw. It’s full-speed-ahead, chaotic, swirling, pummelling fare – dark, dirty, ugly and caked in bestial excrement. ‘Ild Vist Ulmer’ is a nasty aural assault for diehards only. It’s difficult to digest and remorselessly pounds your poor eardrums into submission. On that level, it achieves what it sets out to achieve…

On one hand, I’m somewhat indifferent to owning this. It’s not doing a great deal for me in terms of entertainment and I can’t imagine on too many occasions in the future thinking ‘oh, I must give that fucked-up Blodfest album another spin’. But, having said that, you have to admire the honest endeavour and naked balls-to-the-wall integrity of Black Metal performed with such uncontrolled contempt, brash fearlessness and utter gratification.

Evilometer: 444/666

PERDITION ORACLE – LITANIES OF THE SERPENT (Total Holocaust Records)

Monday, December 10th, 2012

I’ll cut straight to the chase: ‘Litanies Of The Serpent’ is a stunning accomplishment. Perdition Oracle is another one-man effort from the extremely talented IV – the same individual who delivered the exceptional ‘Divinity Through Un-creation’ LP under one of his other handles, Ill Omen, last year. He’s also the guitarist with Naxzul and is involved with a host of other bands (which I’ll definitely be checking out).

Everything about ‘Litanies Of The Serpent’ is superb. This is fantastic underground, harsh/ambient Black Metal with just the right mixture of eeriness, disdain, malevolence and melody. The songs remind me a lot of the aforementioned Ill Omen as well as bands like Ash Borer to an extent, but Perdition Oracle’s music has a unique identity all of its own and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

It’s not often that I listen to the same album four or five times back-to-back, but I’ve been spinning this one non-stop all weekend. A superb collection of songs from an intriguing artist on a really cool label – what more could any of us ask for? The Australian scene is very interesting at the moment and this is yet another example of why we should all be in awe of some of the wonderful exports emanating from Down Under.

Evilometer: 666/666

THE TRUE WERWOLF – DEATH MUSIC (Werewolf Records)

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

Now we’re talking! This might not be a proper full-length (Technically, The True Werwolf has yet to release a debut album), but it serves a similar purpose, offering forth a grand total of ten songs from the band’s various vinyl EPs, clocking in at a very impressive 60 minutes. ‘Death Music’ isn’t consistently brilliant the whole way through, but it’s still a fantastic journey that for the most part showcases superb chamber Black Metal of the very highest calibre.

I absolutely love the two insane tunes on the ‘Weeping Lord of the Majestic Plagues’ 7” and – for all the giving out I do about the digital age – I must say it was cool to get these on CD, finishing off this particular collection in considerable style. The tracks are dished out in reverse chronological order, starting with the as-yet-unreleased ‘Vampyric Magick’ EP, then the relatively-new ‘Battlemoon’ EP and, penultimately, TTW’s contribution to the ‘A Shadow Of All Evil’ split – plus a bonus track.

Some lyrics are included, along with cool pics and an impressive underground layout. All in all, this is fucking awesome in every way.

Evilometer: 666/666

CHARNEL WINDS – DER TEUFELSBUND (Werewolf Records)

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Der Teufelsbund’ was released in 2011 and I made a mental note to myself at the time to check it out. Then – true to form – I completely forgot about it. A month back, I spotted the Charnel Winds debut full-length for sale in an online distro (is there any other kind?) for just €7, so I decided to include it as part of my order. Well-connected Finns, Werewolf Records … smugly, I thought I couldn’t go wrong. Turns out, however, that I did go wrong…

As it transpires, ‘Der Teufelsbund’ is mediocre at best. I feel indifferent to most of it but there are some really sickening parts of this album – searing leads and melodies, clean vocals – that simply nauseate me. Two songs are particularly offensive – ‘Chained Kûmara’ and ‘Die Extase’. Abominations and a total insult to anyone who purchases an album expecting to hear Black Metal as opposed to Eurovision Song Contest outtakes. Total shit.

Evilometer: 000/666