Monday, November 20, 2017 09:40

Archive for March, 2013

GRIFTESKYMFNING – LIKPSALM 2LP (Mordgrimm)

Friday, March 29th, 2013

I was so impressed by Grifteskymfning’s ‘Demo 08’ record that I decided to complete my collection by acquiring their other two vinyl releases – ‘Djävulens Boning’ and ‘Likpsalm’, the former being the only one recognised officially as a full-length and the latter apparently another demo (ha!), presented here in sumptuous double LP format by UK label Mordgrimm.

At two minutes shy of an hour, ‘Likpsalm’ certainly represents value for money and I have to say this pair of records packs a real punch. It states inside the gatefold sleeve that the music was recorded on a tape recorder in the Northern woods of Sweden in 2010 … thankfully it’s not quite as random / messy as this promise / threat or fact / exaggeration might imply!

Everything that an advocate of occult underground Black Metal craves is contained in spades on this album: ‘Likpsalm’ sounds ancient and distant and it’s cloaked within an eerie, shimmering atmosphere; the (un)production is organic; there’s a grim rawness to proceedings (haunting, slow- to mid-paced), complemented and embellished by a devilish sense of ambience. In short, here’s one of the most authentic and essential exhibits of nocturnal, obscure Black Metal that you will find anywhere.

Fantastic stuff – probably one of the best albums in my possession, actually –  but limited to 300 copies. So ends my latest broadcast of Grifteskymfning propaganda. And, no, I am not in the band…

Evilometer: 666/666

NORDVREDE – MONUMENT VIKTORIA (Darker Than Black Records)

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

This is the first time I’ve checked in on Norwegian outfit Nordvrede so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Due to the elite tag, I was worried that perhaps their music would be too ‘epic’ and ‘soaring’ for my liking but, thankfully, this is not the case. ‘Monument Viktoria’ comprises six cuts of rather excellent raw-yet-melodic Black Metal that fly from the speakers in the blink of an eye (i.e. 34 minutes).

There’s more than enough variety (and quality) here to hold my attention for the duration and there’s also adequate grimness to satisfy the inner beast in me. Ultimately, it’s aggression that I’m seeking and I discovered a good fix of anger and menace in Nordvrede’s addictive work. I don’t normally single out individual songs for attention, but the seven-minute fourth track, ‘Slaves Of The Conqueror’, is one of the best I’ve heard in a long time.

Contained within a lovely digipack, this CD boasts a superb sound and would possibly have achieved full marks were it a little longer (and perhaps a touch less melodic). All in all, this is a tidy release, though, and one worth supporting.

Evilometer: 555/666

ARNAUT PAVLE – ARNAUT PAVLE (Vlad Tapes)

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Just what the world needs: another Black Metal band out of Finland. I’m not even being facetious here: I genuinely believe that the more Finnish filth we have at our disposal in this life the better. As for Arnaut Pavle, I know absolutely nothing about this entity except that the cassette has been issued by the cleverly-named Vlad Tapes and is limited to 53 copies. So, doing the maths, if all my regular readers purchase a copy each, there should be 50 left.

The sound on this self-titled release is really good a) for a demo and b) for a tape. A lot of MCs tend to sound like utter crap and I fucking hate when that happens. But ‘Arnaut Pavle’ is okay sound-wise (within reason). And music-wise. The seven songs offered (same dose repeated on both sides) pummel along mercilessly and without remorse, like a rampant underground Watain or Urgehal. Or any one of a thousand other bands who perform in a similar vein…

So, should I criticise the fact that there is nothing particularly remarkable about ‘Arnaut Pavle’ or celebrate the fact that there’s nothing unremarkable about it? I’ll plump for the latter. After all, the reason I’m doing this is because I love Black Metal and here’s another fine proponent of the dark arts from the Northern wastelands of Europe, demonstrating all the right moves.

Very short; very affordable; very impressive. On the strength of this cassette, Arnaut Pavle should have no problem securing a reputable label to assist with future endeavours.

Evilometer: 555/666

TOTENBURG / MENNESKERHAT – WAFFENBRÜDER LP (Nebelfee Klangwerke)

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

This is the vinyl version of a split album originally released in 2006. The record also includes a bonus 7” EP with two additional Totenburg songs. Regarding the worldview and mindset of the participants (which probably manifests itself in the lyrics but who knows?): politics don’t interest me; all politics are bad.

Musically, there’s some great Black Metal to be found on ‘Waffenbrüder’, which clocks in at over one hour thanks to the additional EP.

Menneskerhat has imploded since this was unleashed and this is a pity because their contributions to ‘Waffenbrüder’ are more than adequate. Quality-wise, Totenburg’s material  is (perhaps) slightly more enjoyable … but this isn’t a contest.

I don’t really feel like saying much more about this one. Chances are that – due to the unpalatable nature of the bands involved – you’ll already have made your mind up whether to investigate further or not.

 

Evilometer: 555/666

MUSTA SURMA / BLOODHAMMER / ANNIHILATUS – CHRISTIAN GENOCIDE LP (Northern Heritage)

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

This split brings together three fantastic hordes from the Finnish underground. Apparently, it took the best part of a decade to finally bring it to fruition, which is bizarre seeing as there’s only 37 minutes of music on offer. But ‘Christian Genocide’ is one of those events where I can excuse the unfortunate brevity of proceedings …  a rare triumph for quality over quantity.

I’d certainly like to have heard more of Musta Surma than an intro and one song – the fact that they only contribute seven minutes is a real disappointment (as this band only raises its head sporadically and is an entity I would love to hear a lot more of). Their all-too-brief but superb contribution is taken from their ‘Crushing The Holy Trinity’ session (I think). Also on Side A, we get three uncomplicated tunes from Bloodhammer, the best of which is closer, ‘Night After Night’.

Side B belongs to Annihilatus, a band which hates you and doesn’t want to be your friend. Intolerant of everybody equally, they wage war on jews, christians, hindus, blacks and whites with great enthusiasm. The final excursion on the album is a collaboration between all three bands, who perform the title track in an almost medley fashion. I’m pretty confident from the composition / lyrical make-up of this song that it too was written by Annihilatus.

They want to put you – and me – in an oven.

Evilometer: 555/666

ANTINOMIAN – NIHILUM INFANDUM LP (N:C:U)

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

From the ashes of Subvertio Deus arises a fascinating new entity: Antinomian. Judging by the band’s moniker and the heavily religion-and-theology-themed lyrical content, ‘Nihilum Infandum’ can probably be categorised as orthodox Black Metal (if I may be so cheeky as to apply a pigeon hole). Indeed, Antinomian does remind me a lot of Deathspell Omega – although not quite as mathematical.

There are three lengthy songs and one instrumental on this impressive debut full-length, comprising over 41 minutes in total of blazing, reasonably complex, intelligent, chaotic-yet-controlled and thoroughly enjoyable fare.

Attractive artwork and anti-colours adorn the cover and the inner sleeve as well as the tidy card containing lyrics. ‘Nihilum Infandum’ is certainly a cool-looking record and, more importantly, the music is also of stellar quality, easily setting Antinomian apart as one of the UK’s premier Black Metal forces.

You couldn’t possibly regret buying this underground gem.

Evilometer: 555/666

VINTERRIKET – ENTLEGEN (Heimatfolk)

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Musically, Vinterriket’s association with Black Metal is tenuous at best. Non-existent, in reality. I would rather die the most painful death in the history of mankind than (try to) listen to ‘Entlegen’ again. This album is a fucking abomination. For the first time in a long time, I am lost for words.

Evilometer: 000/666

BAPTISM – AS THE DARKNESS ENTERS LP (Northern Heritage)

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Baptism’s fourth full-length leaves me with mixed / indifferent emotions: I do enjoy parts of it but there are also passages that I definitely don’t like and, alas, it bores me more and more each time I listen to it. Shame, really, because this is a great label, decent band (one that I should probably be supporting…) and the record is professionally presented.

Lord Sargofagian historically straddles a fine and treacherous line between rawness and melody (and I enjoyed his previous efforts) but, on this album, I fear he has ventured too far in the latter direction. There’s too much melody on ‘As The Darkness Enters’ and, even though it’s not a complete dud (far from it), this release is marred by the sickening niceness of songs like ‘The Prayer’ and – to a lesser extent – ‘Esoteric Spheres’, the former of which contains a couple of verses of truly cringe-worthy clean vocals.

All in all, to my ears, ‘As The Darkness Enters’ sounds more like Dimmu Borgir or Kampfar than I’m comfortable with. Even though the album is essentially reasonably good, I prefer Black Metal to be angry, crude, aggressive and more patently of the underground. Too much harmony on this one; it may be more subtle to some ears than what I’m detecting (I’m very sensitive to these things and possibly being overly-critical here), but it’s nonetheless very disappointing.

If you fancy some melancholic, sedate, laid-back, inoffensive, mid-paced Black Metal laced / loaded with nice melodies, look no further. But I won’t be delving any deeper into this one.

Evilometer: 222/666

VORUM – POISONED VOID LP (Woodcut Records)

Saturday, March 16th, 2013

Some underground Death Metal here from Finland. Vorum opts for a no-frills, old school sort of approach mostly and they certainly couldn’t be accused of martyring themselves for the sake of their art as there’s only 35 minutes of music on this debut album, which contains eight fairly straightforward songs.

The record comes in a gatefold jacket, with not one but two posters included in my copy for some reason. I’ll never understand or appreciate this posters-accompanying-records lark but anyway… No lyrics printed anywhere, which is a slight disappointment…

As you can gather, I’m not overly-excited by this record. Yet … there’s something about it. I keep going back for more. Again and again. I’m listening to this every day. So, while it’s harmless and far from spectacular, my conclusion is that ‘Poisoned Void’ is a seriously competent and thoroughly enjoyable piece of work. There may not be much of it, or an awful lot to it, but what’s here is damn impressive.

A good fix of catchy Death Metal which I’m enjoying much more than I can justify. This one takes me back. To a better place than here.

Evilometer: 555/666

GRAND BELIAL’S KEY – MOCKING THE PHILANTHROPIST 2LP (Drakkar Productions)

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

Last year, Drakkar reissued all three Grand Belial’s Key full-lengths on CD, cassette and vinyl formats. A cash grab? I don’t think so. The vinyl editions – which are probably almost sold out by now – are particularly expensive but they are of a very high quality. The time, effort and passion that went into making these fantastic albums available again on black wax cannot be measured in monetary terms.

Including postage, all three albums – five records in total (as both this one and ‘Kosherat’ are doubles) – set me back a whopping €90. Obviously this isn’t for everybody as prices like this are borderline bankruptcy in the current economic climate. However, if you are one of the lucky ones who has a few extra quid in your possession, then these reissues are definitely worth owning.

I’m reviewing ‘Mocking the Philanthropist’ as it’s my favourite Grand Belial’s Key release. This first saw the light of day in 1997 and it arrived as a noxious dose of foul fumes – arguably the first landmark American Black Metal album. It’s over an hour long, is devilishly disrespectful and represents a real fist in the face of Christianity. ‘MTP’ may seem tame in the modern world (and also compared to its even-more-obscene successor, ‘Judeobeast Assassination’) but back in the day, this was fucking shocking stuff.

I love the artwork on all Grand Belial’s Key albums, which comes into its own on 12×12 gatefold covers, and I applaud Drakkar for the fantastic job they have done in resurrecting these historic albums in such glory. I’ll admit that the music does show its age just a little bit at times, but this is an observation more than a criticism. All in all, this is a stunning album, presented here in its ultimate guise. The only drawback is the price of admission but I genuinely feel this is down to the high cost of producing such a quality product rather than any sort of profiteering.

Evilometer: 666/666

VLAP TEPES / BELKETRE – MARCH TO THE BLACK HOLOCAUST 2LP (Drakkar Productions)

Monday, March 11th, 2013

It’s been quite some time since I looked forward to acquiring an album as much as this one. Featuring two of the leading lights from Les Légions Noires, ‘March To The Black Holocaust’ was originally released in 1995 but has just been reissued by Drakkar on both CD and double vinyl. The records caught my attention straight away…

I hadn’t heard this split before, so it’s been quite an experience getting acquainted with it. Both duos are part of French Black Metal folklore and it quickly becomes apparent exactly why they are so infamous: this is sheer, murderous underground pestilence of the most insane variety imaginable. It’s far from easy listening from both parties and at times I am almost in pain as I let the music wash over me (or tear through me).

The eight crimes of Vlad Tepes are contained on the first record, ripping through the speakers like some ancient curse. Belkètre also serves up eight evil, evil contributions, which hiss and spit and reek of hatred and disgust. I can assure you that none of the offerings on this reissue have been remastered! Yet, somehow, the true spirit of Black Metal seems to pervade this hour-long odyssey.

Everything about this release is packed full of hate and the invective contained (or barely contained…) within the substantial liner notes leaves us in no doubt as to the nasty wishes and ill intent of the creators. Eighteen years may have passed since these bands were fully relevant, but they still sound great (strictly in the most analogue and underground of fashions) and, therefore, their legacy lives on.

Evilometer: 555/666

DROWNING THE LIGHT – OCEANS OF ETERNITY (Dark Adversary Productions)

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

Generally speaking, Drowning The Light do not release bad albums. So it’s no surprise that their twelfth full-length – which was unleashed in 2011 – was something of a cracker. It’s taken me a while to get around to reviewing this; that’s because (I am a lazy bastard and) I was waiting for the vinyl edition, which hasn’t yet surfaced … so I’ve purchased the CD (which is really neat).

The music on ‘Oceans Of Eternity’ seems denser and more oppressive than a lot of DTL’s latter releases but I don’t have any problem with that. The vocals at times are difficult to discern as they’re almost buried in the mix, but the murkiness works well and lends a real underground vibe to proceedings, which is always welcome.

There’s not as much melody here as I was expecting, but the (keyboard) instrumental ‘Drifting Away In A Sea of Sorrow (Part II)’ provides some scant respite. Mostly, the offerings are chaotic, ferocious and feverish, with some lovely dark poetry bringing true pathos to the journey and helping the listener cope with the impenetrable (and often overwhelming) doom.

A challenging and inaccessible album – but all the better for it.

Evilometer: 555/666

VASSAFOR – OBSIDIAN CODEX 2LP (Parasitic Records)

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

This isn’t your standard 2LP in that it’s not one album spread across two records. It’s actually a double album, comprising over 94 minutes of ritualistic Death Metal with some doomy / sludge moments and a pervading Black Metal spirit. I don’t hear an awful lot of BM in the actual music, but there’s no denying that the analogue tone, cavernous feel and underground ethos of the album(s) are black to the core.

Apparently, these records are 180g each; they seem much more substantial. Each disc is a chunky slab of slate-like black, something you could use to decapitate your neighbour. Or your partner. The highlight of the journey for me is Side C (or, taking into account the misprint on the label, my second Side A!) which is wholly dedicated to the sublime, hypnotic, slow-paced ‘Nemesis’ – a stunning 24-minute offering.

Indeed, most of the songs are slow- to mid-paced and there’s a genuinely unnerving feel to the entire album(s), which reveals itself a little more with each listen. The gatefold cover is fantastic, with classy artwork and appropriate fonts used. My only small gripe is that there are no inserts and no lyrics included. But, fuck it, you can’t have everything…

For obvious reasons, this will cost more than your regular vinyl LP and postage and packaging could, nay will, be a bit steeper than usual. But it’s worth every penny. A mandatory purchase for anyone who fancies trying some non-conventional, swirling / churning underground Antipodean Death Metal (with the merest trace of Black).

Evilometer: 666/666

DARKEST GROVE – COMING OF 2012 (Forever Plagued Records)

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

I bought this because it was cheap and also because it has been released by a reputable label, whose quality I trust in. In fact, I’m pretty sure that Devoid Being – the soul behind this esoteric entity – is also the guy who runs Forever Plagued, but that’s not really relevant to this review. What matters is the quality of the music and, well, it’s a bit of a cracker…

A copy of DG’s debut album ‘Pain And Suffering Shall Be Known’ nestles in my collection but I haven’t listened to it in years (and cannot remember what it sounds like, doh) so I went into this sophomore release blindly. I didn’t know what to expect and, truthfully, nothing could have braced me for the madness to come.

To say that Darkest Grove delivers atypical Black Metal is an exercise in understatement. This digi CD is unlike any other BM artists I’ve heard and at times I feel more like I’m listening to Death Metal (or Grind) than Black Metal. The harsh vocals – original and organic – transcend both subgenres and are truly natural in their fierceness, never trying to be either one thing or the other.

The music is like a complex tapestry of aggression, complementing a philosophical journey into dementia with loads of melody, no end of intrigue and seemingly endless mysteries contained within. Most of the intensity is loaded towards the first half of the album, which means there is a measure of calm after the storm. But you will remain on edge throughout the 62 minutes; ‘Coming Of 2012’ is never easy-going or soothing (though the seventh track, the 25-minute ‘Return Of The Moonchildren’, is epic, beautiful and uplifting).

To summarise: this is a really, really good and original (Black) Metal album with few or no peers.

Evilometer: 666/666