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Archive for February, 2013

MONS VENERIS – VICIT SATHANAS PATER… EUM SEQUAMUR (Antihumanism)

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Even though Portuguese one-man act Mons Veneris [formed: 2005] has almost 30 offerings to its name, ‘Vicit Sathanas Pater… Eum Sequamur’ remains the only full-length to date. Originally intended for a vinyl release, this was unleashed on cassette format only in 2008 but was extremely difficult to acquire. Alas, I missed / overlooked it.

Mercifully, Antihumanism saw fit to reissue the album on CD in December (this time with the original mix, limited to 250) and I’ve purchased my copy from Forever Plagued. At last, I get to pour this coveted work of underground Black Metal through my yearning ears…

So we have six songs comprising almost 42 minutes of music. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the sound is good. It isn’t. Everything remains extremely analogue. For want of a better word, it’s a shitty sound throughout. Muddy and horrible. The singing comes across like a goat or a boar (or a goose – or a combination of all three – but not a human). Being tortured. Only a spastic could listen to let along actually enjoy this album.

Guess that makes me a spastic of sorts.

Evilometer: 555/666

SATANIZE / ETERNA PENUMBRA – ANTI-INTRUDERS / OLVIDO LP (Discipline)

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

There are a lot of good things about this split LP, which pairs two fine bands from the Iberian underground. First and foremost amongst these is the absolute reality that all six songs represent fine examples of what Black Metal is all about. Secondly, the record arrives courtesy of one of my favourite labels, so you just know it’s going to be finished professionally, with fitting artwork and imagery, including lyrics and Discipline’s by-now-customary fold-over pseudo-gatefold cover. Very underground!

Another plus point is the fact that ‘Anti-Intruders / Olvido’ won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Originally self-released a couple of years ago on cassette format, this joint effort looks, feels and sounds the part on vinyl. Both bands deliver very raw, cavernous, grating Black Metal. Not very subtle, but there is a hidden depth and warmth to Eterna Penumbra’s tracks in particular. A strong sense of melody lurks in the murk.

This is actually my first exposure to the no-frills evil of Satanize and I am pleasantly surprised by their sound and style (maybe it’s the name, I half-expected them to be rubbish); Eterna Penumbra is not a new phenomenon to me – I reviewed their outstanding debut album ‘Nuestra Vacía Existencia’ almost two years ago.

The main downside to the deal is that there is only 25 minutes of music on here, which places the record somewhere between EP and MLP territory. This is disappointing; I’d prefer a bit more meat on the bones. Still, all in all, we get some very enjoyable music that’s well worth digging out… which leads me to the second negative: this fine record is limited to just 150 copies.

Evilometer: 555/666

V/A – SVN OKKLT 2xCS (Fallen Empire Records)

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Seriously, it doesn’t get much more underground than this partnership between the Svn Okklt blog and Fallen Empire Records – a double cassette showcasing eleven superb bands, most of which I assume are on the label’s roster. The tapes are housed within a DVD-style case with a 24-page booklet featuring lyrics, imagery, manifestos and notes. You’ll get this collection for about €10 and it’s a real bargain.

Notwithstanding the fact that I never heard of any of them before(!), I’m not going to list off the bands involved (see the Tags below) or start comparing them to one another – partly because I’m too lazy but also because it’s rather pointless. All the music on these tapes is wonderful. Suffice to say, if you want to expose yourself to some excellent underground Black Metal from relatively-unknown artists from around the world, then this is a great place to start.

The music spreads out over three sides of the two cassettes, divided into distinct sub-sections: Rites of Vehemence, Rites of Pestilence and Rites of Departure. Conceptually, the enlisted artists share a common philosophy, centred not-so-loosely around the inherent worthlessness of man, the scum.

The full album is available to download in MP3 format for free from the Svn Okklt website – as are other blog-approved cassette releases – but I would advise strongly that you purchase the tapes from FER as well. They are worth owning and the label deserves our support if it is going to keep conjuring stellar releases like this one in years to come.

Evilometer: 666/666

IRAE – TO THOSE WHO STAND… EVIL PREVAILS (Infinite Darkness Productions)

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Black Metal is a simple business, really. No need to over-complicate things. Some artists are able to churn out release after release of authentic BM without seeming to break stride. They sound like they can almost do this in their sleep. Irae is just such an act.

To Those Who Stand… Evil Prevails’ combines the five tracks from 2011 demo cassette ‘In The Veins Of Satan’ with those from last year’s ‘Seven Hatred Manifestos’ demo tape; the CD in turn comprises 46 minutes of simple but fantastic, fizzing  underground Black Metal.

It’s because of music like this that I fell in love with Black Metal in the first place. There’s a wonderfully eerie, chilling atmosphere evident throughout ‘To Those Who Stand… Evil Prevails’ and you just know from listening to the songs that creator Vulturius doesn’t give a flying fuck. About anything. On the same day that I nearly swallowed my own tongue listening to the putrid vomit that is the new Darkthrone album, it was utterly refreshing (and reassuring) to give this splendid CD another spin.

Complete with customary puerile band member photos and bleak imagery, this underground gem really does tick all the boxes. And the review therefore practically writes itself, which is always a welcome bonus.

Evilometer: 666/666

SVIKT / KIRKEBRANN – BETRAYAL & BLASPHEMY LP (Blut & Eisen Productions)

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Two relatively-unknown Norwegian hordes – who share a member in the form of Hrafn – join forces on this vinyl-only split, which is limited to a tidy 500 units. Before I go any further, I want to make it clear that this record will not set the world on fire or become known as one of the greatest Black Metal LPs ever released. However, for a mere €13, it is well worth at least considering.

Regular readers will already have seen my review of Svikt’s excellent debut full-length, ‘I Elendighetens Selskap’ (which, incidentally, has also just been granted a vinyl release by Blut & Eisen), and should therefore know that I enjoy their music.

Svikt’s side of this record is called ‘Betrayal’ and boasts two instrumentals (a short intro and a lengthy outro) bookending a couple of impressive mid-paced work-outs … one in Norwegian (I think), the other in English. As I stated at the outset, nothing spectacular really but nonetheless enjoyable stuff.

I wasn’t familiar with Kirkebrann prior to purchasing this record but I like two of their three contributions on ‘Blasphemy’, even if the third and final one isn’t quite my thing (mainly due to the naff lyrics).

All in all, two interesting underground BM bands playing together on a record that comes with lovely artwork (a front cover on either side!) and an insert with all lyrics and credits, recording details etc. included. I believe this is a commendable though hardly mandatory release and I would definitely recommend it.

Evilometer: 444/666

ENDEZZMA – EROTIK NEKROSIS LP (Agonia Records)

Friday, February 15th, 2013

I believe this was the last album that the late Trondr Nefas (Urgehal, Beastcraft, Angst Skvadron) performed on. If so, it’s a historic release. The Norwegian band Endezzma delivers fairly atypical Black Metal with an almost cosmic feel intruding at times. There are occasions along the way when I’m almost reminded of Sigh except ‘Erotik Nekrosis’ is much more old school and, well, authentic.

There’s a strong sense of melody running through the seven songs (plus intro), with prominent lead guitars very much to the forefront. Drums are unobtrusive but adequate; the bass sometimes fleetingly reveals itself; vocals / rasps are solid and unspectacular. In fact, that’s a pretty good description of the album as a whole: solid but unspectacular.

There are some cool and unusual moments on  ‘Erotik Nekrosis’ and the musicianship is certainly impressive. The record is professionally finished with inlay including lyrics etc. and the mid-paced Black Metal on offer is far from run-of-the-mill, thanks largely to the sprinkling here and there of keyboards. At times it soars close to greatness. But this isn’t a brilliant album by any stretch of the imagination.

Evilometer: 444/666

TAAKEFERD – NÅR SIRKELEN BRYTES LP (Obscure Abhorrence Productions)

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Når Sirkelen Brytes’ is the debut full-length from northern Norwegian quintet Taakeferd, who may or may not have borrowed their name from an iconic piece of Darkthrone merchandise. Probably not, though. Anyway, the name translates as ‘a journey through fog’ or something along those lines and this is probably an apt description for the no-holds-barred, blazing Black Metal offered forth on this record.

Both melodic and raw, the songs on this 53-minute album rip through the speakers with devilish intent, never compromising, delivering nine straight-to-the-point work-outs of shrill and shrieky Black Metal with little or no let-up. The music blasts along fiercely and ferociously and there is barely time to breathe. It’s somehow claustrophobic and suffocating as it pounds along and at times all too familiar but, for all it lacks in originality, ‘Når Sirkelen Brytes’ deserves respect for the manner in which it sticks to the core principles of what made Black Metal great in the first place.

This isn’t an album that you’ll regard as a milestone in the history of BM, nor is it one you’ll want to play over and over again. But there’s no denying that it does what it does bloody damned well and for that reason alone Taakeferd should not be dismissed. Good, solid, face-ripping Black Metal that salutes the scene’s brethren well and – ironically – will probably draw criticism for being too Black Metal! An album for those who appreciate Black Metal the olden way.

Evilometer: 444/666

INCANTATION – VANQUISH IN VENGEANCE LP (Listenable Records)

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Astonishingly, it has been 21 years since Incantation inflicted their debut album, ‘Onward To Golgotha’, upon the unsuspecting masses. With so much blood and guts having passed under the proverbial bridge, one would perhaps now expect John McEntee and his not-so-merry men to be a spent force; a tired, burnt-out parody of their former, glorious selves.

To the contrary, however, the years have been kind to Incantation and they appear to have blossomed with the passing of time … certainly if ninth full-length ‘Vanquish In Vengeance’ is to be used as a barometer.

This is absolutely magnificent, compelling Death Metal majesty from start to finish, a stellar record with perhaps the most thrilling denouement in extreme music history in the shape of the utterly beguiling eleven-minute epic ‘Legion Of Dis’.

A lot of newer (I suppose most bands in the world are younger than Incantation!) Death Metal bands are – quite rightly – attracting unprecedented levels of hype these days. There is some amazing DM surfacing and also a lot of superb welding of Death and Black taking place globally. But very few of these newcomers can hold a candle to the original innovators. Incantation prove on this record that they truly are an irresistible force of nature.

The vinyl is 180g, looks sumptuous and contains an inlay with lyrics. This is a classic release that nobody should overlook and I make no apologies for featuring Incantation on what is ostensibly a Black Metal blog. My mission is to let you know about great music – Death and Black – and I would assume that most readers will appreciate both subgenres, which are pretty much joined at the hip anyhow.

Evilometer: 666/666

BRIARGH / XERION / SENTIMEN BELTZA / DOOM OF VALYRIA – PAGAN SPIRIT (Azermedoth Records)

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Obviously, I purchased this four-way split CD due to the involvement of the excellent Sentimen Beltza, who contribute three examples of their superb, ancient, atmospheric Black Metal. Rarely does this Basque one-man army disappoint!

There are also three songs from each of the other bands and here comes the rub: one of them is simply not worthy of its place in such esteemed company.

Briargh are decent and I enjoyed their tunes; Xerión’s three tracks are also commendable; but Doom of Valyria is like a bad joke and their lame, female-fronted folk music is so bad that it made me want to break the CD in half. Amazing how one rubbish band can drag the others down.

Some enjoyable music on here (the first nine songs are very good) but, alas, the involvement of one dud wrecks the whole album. It’s hard not to take offence. I wish I never bought this.

Evilometer: 222/666

REVERORUM IB MALACHT – DEMO 09 LP (Ancient Records)

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

As you will gather from the warbling to follow, I have mixed emotions about this one, which seems to be both brilliant and rubbish at the same time. Is it possible for a record to be too cult? I appreciate a lot of what Ancient Records is doing but this one isn’t particularly hitting the spot for me.

Might have been better to leave ‘Demo 09’ alone as a cassette-only release. Records are bloody expensive things to buy and this one – intriguing and all as it is – doesn’t quite justify the expenditure.

I should probably qualify my review by pointing out that the music of Reverorum Ib Malacht on here is not Black Metal in any way, shape or form. Rather, some sort of creepy, chamber darkness with spoken chants and a horrible production resulting in a muddy sound that’s extremely frustrating. I have to turn the volume dial way UP on my stereo to hear this but still an overwhelming dullness permeates.

Having said that, I’m not one for crystal clear productions either so I do appreciate what’s going on here … to an extent … just feel that perhaps it goes a bit too far. It’s so dull that at times I feel like I’m listening to the record underwater – or with a dose of flu gripping my very essence – and it’s hard not to feel weary and dreary under these circumstances.

Also – call me petty! – there’s no track-listing included, which is somehow annoying and confusing as it appears to differ at least slightly from the running order of the original version. Is this not a basic requirement? ‘How different is it from the original?’ I wonder. ‘Where is the 29-minute song?’ ‘Was there ever one?’ I have no idea. All part of the mystery. And therein lies part of the charm of Reverorum Ib Malacht – mysterious, eerie, transcendental, non-conformist and utterly obscure.

Despite all my reservations and undoubted pettiness, I find it difficult not to admire the band and (almost) love the record. I realise this is just a demo and I understand and accept that it would have been ludicrous to alter the sound quality in any way. Preserved on vinyl, we have the exact sound reproduced in its original glory. Commendable. I applaud the integrity. (And I really hope that doesn’t sound condescending.)

I can see this record possibly growing on me as time goes by. For the time being, however, the duller-than-dishwater, way-too-analogue-for-its-own-good sound leaves me feeling indifferent.

Evilometer: 444/666

HAT – VORTEX OF DEATH (Abyss Records)

Monday, February 4th, 2013

One thing that’s clearly working against Norwegian Black Metal duo Hat is the name. It may mean hate in their native tongue but here in the English-speaking world hat will always and forever be the yoke you use to keep your head warm. Or to be a cool fuck. Either way, Hat isn’t a great name for a Black Metal band. Or any band, for that matter. Pity about the unfortunate handle as I really enjoy their music.

Debut ‘The Demise Of Mankind’ surfaced in 2009 and is highly impressive; this second full-length followed in 2011 and is also pretty damn fine. ‘Vortex Of Death’ delivers circa 45 minutes of well-thought-out, modern-sounding, sinister BM with a truly stellar sound and an organic feel. Right now, I’m struggling for superlatives (a combination of writer’s block and retardedness) so I’ll simply tell you that I’ve listened to this album countless times since purchasing it and, truth to tell, ‘Vortex Of Death’ never bores me.

Arguably one of Norway’s best-kept secrets, Hat may have a shite name but if you can get past that admittedly-significant stumbling block (first impressions, cognitive imagery and all that…) there’s a treasure trove of quality music to be found on both their albums. And last time I checked Abyss were practically giving this sumptuous digi CD away!

Evilometer: 555/666

MIRKHALL – LIKE WOLVES – LIKE HEATHENS (Dark Adversary Productions)

Monday, February 4th, 2013

For a relatively-unknown entity, Mirkhall is quite the phenomenon! The brainchild of one Gand (AKA Shatraug of Horna, Sargeist and Behexen infamy), with the services of Blackheart (Drowning The Light, Atra) enlisted on keyboard as well as Nox (some other bands) on drums, the now-defunct Mirkhall doled out some fantastic pagan / heathen Black Metal that clearly merited a larger audience than they managed to attract. Isn’t it always the way?

On ‘Like Wolves – Like Heathens’, Mirkhall pays fitting tribute to Poland’s seminal Temple of Fullmoon movement. Seven songs, almost 38 minutes’ worth of melodic underground multi-national Black Metal that surely won’t disappoint you. This was released in the middle of 2012 and is limited to 500 copies. Many of those will be gone by now but there should be plenty left seeing as Mirkhall’s first and only full-length didn’t even threaten to register on the radar.

All in all, a solid mid-paced, unspectacular, decidedly-inoffensive but nonetheless enjoyable album. With cool connections.

Evilometer: 444/666

SAPIENTIA – THROUGH THE FIRST SPHERE OF SATURNUS (Lamech Records)

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

Sapientia from Sweden is a brand-new band that specialises in a hybrid of Death Metal and Black Metal that to my ears is more death (or even doom at times) than black. For example, vocal delivery reminds me more of Evoken or Glen Benton moonlighting in Vital Remains than it does of any BM band that springs to mind. Maybe they are Black Metal in spirit?

According to their Encyclopaedia Metallum page, Sapientia’s lyrics deal with Luciferian Gnosis and The Black Lodge, which is fine with me seeing as I don’t actually know what either of those two things are. Nor do I care. Suffice to say, we have on this tape five tracks of really cool underground black-infused Death Metal that’s at times in a similar vein to Necros Christos but as a whole different to any other artist I can think of off the top of my lazy head right now.

It’s a pro-tape, with proper printing on the cassette, professional insert and all lyrics included. ‘Through The First Sphere Of Saturnus’ is by no means the most essential album I’ve ever heard but it’s far from the worst and is well worth purchasing at this cheap price. Especially check out the stunning, epic closing song ‘Ad Infinitum’. Hurry, though – limited to 100 units.

(Apologies for the fucked-up-by-the-flash photo.)

Evilometer: 444/666

AURA SATURNAL – TO HIS KINGDOM LP (Versets Noirs)

Friday, February 1st, 2013

From the same mind that conceives Cosmic Church comes Aura Saturnal, one of the rawest and most thoroughly underground Finnish Black Metal acts you are likely to hear this side of the grave. The driving force behind these bands – one Luxixul Sumering Auter – draws a very distinct line between the two personae and Aura Saturnal as represented here on its debut LP is clearly the freak child that grew up in the basement. An ugly bastard that was hidden from the outside world for obvious reasons. Imagine the disgust and revulsion that would be caused if any of the neighbours saw him…

To His Kingdom’ is barely-decipherable, coarse, muddy, dull, murky but strangely melodic and addictive. I’ve tried reading along with the lyric sheet in hand on quite a few occasions but I keep losing track because words seem to just vanish into the ether, or don’t exist in the first place. The sound is wholly inadequate, fluctuating and swirling … but in a way that works superbly. Well, at least I enjoy it.

Obviously, this album isn’t going to be for everyone. It’s a challenging listen and it’s rougher around the edges than a tramp’s underpants. But it is also intriguing, unusual and highly rewarding once you invest a bit of time into it. A tad short at 36-and-a-half minutes but, all in all, a highly satisfying mid-paced obscure Black Metal record.

Evilometer: 666/666