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Archive for April, 2013

SHROUD OF THE HERETIC – BOILED TO DEATH MLP (Blood Harvest)

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

Sometime in January, Blood Harvest unleashed the 12” vinyl edition of this debut EP from American band Shroud Of The Heretic. What we have here is six tracks of guttural, chugging and at times doom-laden slow-to-mid-paced Death Metal which sounds a little like Incantation in slow motion.

The label namedrops five bands as reference points – Aethyrvorous, Cruciamentum, Encoffination, Vasaeleth and Undergang. Of these five, Encoffination is the only one I’m properly acquainted with and I do detect certain similarities, especially in spirit and tone and also the use of samples, particularly at the start of the excellent fifth track ‘Ageless Shadow’.

While I don’t think ‘Boiled To Death’ is as essential as anything the magnificent Encoffination has released to date, it is nonetheless a worthwhile record, with a generous running time (for an EP) of 35 minutes. The record is well packaged and presented, too, which is always an added bonus.

There’s no real gamble involved, either, as you can listen to the entire album / LP / MLP / EP or whatever you want to call it on the label’s Bandcamp page prior to investing. What more do you want?

Evilometer: 444/666

ALTAR OF PLAGUES – TEETHED GLORY AND INJURY (Profound Lore Records)

Saturday, April 27th, 2013

Even if it hardly represents a dramatic departure, I really do not like the direction Altar Of Plagues’ music has taken on their third full-length, ‘Teethed Glory And Injury’. Here is a band I’ve been championing for a long time – see my review of ‘Mammal’ – but one whose Black Metal quotient has always been dubious / debatable, to say the least.

On this album, my compatriots have remorselessly severed any tenuous link they may have previously had with Black Metal – for the sake of maturity, I imagine – and delivered something altogether different. Something that I can’t even be bothered to explain or describe because I couldn’t give a damn about the sort of pretentiousness found on ‘Teethed Glory And Injury’; Altar Of Plagues is now irrelevant to me and to this website

Evilometer: 000/666

WULKANAZ – PAURPURA FRAEOVIBOKOS LP (Seedstock Records)

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Paúrpura Fræovíbôkôs’ is Wulkanaz’s second full-length album and has been released in a limited vinyl edition, which I’m predicting will sell out very quickly and will prove extremely difficult to acquire – and much sought-after – in the future. I wouldn’t be surprised if this doesn’t resurface, either as a tape or a CD. That’s how the underground tends to operate and Wulkanaz is very much of the deepest, deepest underground.

The eponymous project of Tomhet’s driving force, this one-man vehicle from Sweden has been spewing out splits and EPs for a few years now, as well as the debut full-length (cassette) ‘HaglaNaudizEisaz’ last year. I hadn’t heard any of the material prior to now but my curiosity was aroused enough to tempt me to hunt ‘Paúrpura Fræovíbôkôs’ down. I’m delighted I did because this truly is a fabulous slab of occult Black Metal.

Not as psychedelic as I was expecting (thankfully), this is still trippy but essentially evil, erratic, indifferent, pacey and almost punk-y (at times), genuinely-esoteric Black Metal that’s so simple and uncomplicated that it’s bordering on genius. The record also looks absolutely incredible, housed in a sumptuous gatefold sleeve with 12-page booklet glued on.

A fresh and exciting new voice is always most welcome. Make room in your collection for ‘Paúrpura Fræovíbôkôs’ (if you can manage to get your grubby paws on a copy).

Evilometer: 666/666

TRISKÈLE – IV (Schattenkult Produktionen)

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

I recently purchased nine full-length albums from German label Schattenkult Productionen for a grand total of €32, including postage. That’s €3 per tape. As he’s practically giving his albums away, I’m not sure how the guy behind this operation keeps the show on the road but, anyway, there’s great value to be had from the buyer’s perspective.

I’m not a massive fan of the cassette format, if truth be told. In fact, it’s my least favourite of all, some distance behind records and CDs and even less appealing than the MP3 in many respects. But it is kinda cult, I guess, and the reality is that some underground releases are cassette-only – Triskèle’s fourth full-length being a case in point (thus far) – while from time to time it is simply more prudent to opt for the tape as it is cheap.

IV’ is limited to just 300 units and I’m confident these will disappear quickly (if they haven’t already) at the giveaway retail price listed. Remember, this isn’t three beans for a shitty-sounding piece of crap; you’re getting a proper album, with a running time of around 55 minutes (including two bonus tracks), decent sound quality and even some lyrics included on the fold-out inlay.

To the value quotient, add in the fact that the Canadians have delivered a very enjoyable – if perhaps tame enough at times – consignment of inoffensive, mid-paced, pagan Black Metal, mostly triumphant and epic in vibe but also more gloomy in parts. If you own a tape deck and like Black Metal and are on a tight budget, there’s no real reason not to buy this.

Evilometer: 555/666

PHLEGEIN – SILVER VEINS LP (Northern Heritage)

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Phlegein’s debut album comes in a tasty-looking gatefold sleeve with some delightful artwork. It sure looks the part and that’s half the battle won straight away. First impressions and all that… Aesthetically, this is a fine product to own but the positives stop right there.

Musically, I was expecting something more. As standard Black Metal goes – or ‘Finnish Black Metal without compromise’ – I can’t find any obvious fault with ‘Silver Veins’ as it does precisely what it says on the tin. However: a quarter of an hour of monotonous, unadventurous, emotionless, banal, authentic BM is all fine and well, but does it really have to be this run-of-the-mill?

Obviously, all Black Metal sounds kind of alike anyway so it’s almost redundant to criticise an album for sounding all-too-familiar but my gripe is not necessarily relating to the monotony; more that this is, erm, let me think … boring, for want of a better word. To my ears, Phlegein are just plodding along, going through the motions, never quite arriving anywhere; directionless and rudderless.

I was expecting so much more from this album that I can’t help but feel disappointed. Having said that, it’s not Phlegein’s fault that I had high expectations of them and, to be fair, ‘Silver Veins’ still provides some good (but hardly great) Black Metal, even if you have heard it all a thousand times before (and often done much better than this).

Solid enough but lacking that x factor that separates the true ghouls from the men. “Nothing much happening here, folks, move along…”

Evilometer: 333/666

BLUT AUS NORD – ULTIMA THULEE LP (Debemur Morti Productions)

Saturday, April 20th, 2013

Ultima Thulée’ is the debut full-length from Blut Aus Nord, dating back to 1995. At the time, this historic release barely caused a ripple of interest. Which is remarkable, considering how fantastic it is… I’d almost go so far as to say that I prefer this enchanting prototypical incarnation of BAN to the irresistible, innovative force that has emerged post-‘The Work Which Transforms God’. Trust me – that is some compliment!

Debemur Morti Productions has in recent years become a very natural home for Vindsval, not only releasing Blut Aus Nord’s last three albums (the ‘777’ trilogy, including this and this) and the ‘What Once Was…’ EPs but also reissuing the first three full-lengths on vinyl (including this), with the astounding, trailblazing ‘TWWTG’ in the pipeline, I’m led to believe.

Frankly, ‘Ultima Thulée’ is a remarkable 52+ minutes of stellar, icy, hypnotic, haunting, underground Black Metal with a keen sense of melody but also lashings of aggression and forlorn pathos. If you’re not already familiar with this majestic, cult classic – which sounds every bit as beguiling now as it did 18 years (fuck, really?) ago – then it would be a wise move to hunt it down.

Epic and priceless black art.

Evilometer: 666/666

BLUT AUS NORD – MoRT (Candlelight Records)

Saturday, April 20th, 2013

Here’s an old review I found. I wrote it many years ago for a webzine I used to write for and also posted it on Encyclopaedia Metallum in July, 2008. I haven’t bothered to change or edit it (apart from fixing a grammatical error where I ’d written abbreviation’ instead of acronym’), even though a lot of water has passed under the bridge in the meantime and I don’t particularly like this rip-off label at all…

The primary attraction of Blut Aus Nord’s music resides in their uncanny ability to continuously challenge the listener. The French philosophers never cease to amaze with their capacity to evolve and reinvent themselves. Imagine, therefore, my surprise to discover that Vindsval and his not-so-merry crew sound as familiar as an old friend on their fifth full-length, ‘MoRT’ (French for dead and also an acronym of Metamorphosis of Realistic Theories).

A harrowing and unrelenting black metal entity on their first three (landmark) albums, Blut Aus Nord carved a new sound on monumental 2003 opus ‘The Work Which Transforms God’ – surely one of the most innovative contributions ever to the BM canon. They travelled further along that same Godfleshian experimental avenue on the subsequent EP ‘Thematic Emanation Of Archetypal Multiplicity’, and the album we’re dealing with here continues to explore a growing fascination with horrific urban terror and horrible industrialisation. These eight chapters are nightmare soundscapes that tremble beneath the concrete jungle erected by modern man.

BAN have not made things easy for themselves; they have stubbornly crafted an album that answers their stone-cold muse. This is the stuff of real nightmare. Nothing to do with demons or trolls or Satan, Blut Aus Nord’s evil dwells closer to home: in the mind. Their output is the soundtrack to inner city strife, towering scaffolds, edifices weighed down by the filth of mankind, overdoses, traffic jams, hopelessness and crushed dreams. You can almost feel the decay setting in as the unsettling rhythms, subterranean chants, primeval gurgles and terrifying emissions take grip of your sanity.

MoRT‘ is a very uncomfortable ride and, while the creators do appear to be treading familiar ground at times, Blut Aus Nord’s art remains more compelling than 99% of what’s out there. While I was slightly disappointed that there are no curveballs contained herein (‘MoRT’ could be legitimately dubbed ‘TWWTG II‘), the potency of this trauma-inducing mindfuckery is extraordinary.

Black Metal in the David Lynch vein, ‘MoRT’ would be hailed an absolute classic if Blut Aus Nord hadn’t already outdone themselves on its predecessor. As psyche-shifting, ego-altering and edifying as music gets.

Evilometer: 555/666

 

VLAD TEPES – MORTE… LUNE LP (Drakkar Productions)

Saturday, April 20th, 2013

I really enjoyed ‘March To The Black Holocaust’ and ‘War Funeral March’ was reasonably good. But ‘Morte… Lune’ is a decided disappointment. Considering that this was Vlad Tepes’ penultimate recording, one would reasonably expect it to be fresher and better than the other two recent reissues mentioned above, but the opposite is the case.

The sound on here is ropey and unstable; the music is bland and amateur-ish; the playing is shoddy. It’s just lazy Black Metal that was thrown together with total disregard for the listener and very clearly captures a band that was in interminable decline. Just as well Vlad Tepes called it a day not long afterwards.

Even though it has its (oh so fleeting) moments, I can derive no joy from owning a recording as sloppy and careless as this and the fact that I bought in on the more-expensive vinyl format serves to amplify the insult. Nous sommes Satan, my arse.

Evilometer: 111/666

OUROBOROS – INVOKING THE PAST 2LP (Iron Bonehead Productions)

Friday, April 19th, 2013

This has been a very difficult review to write and the trouble I encountered along the way reminds me of why I’m so often tempted to give this up. Nigh on impossible to do anything – properly – with a two-year-old child hanging out of you… The eagle-eyed readers out there in anonymous cyberville will have noticed that, since first publishing the review, I have edited it, rewritten it, changed my mind, altered the  marks and practically ended up with a totally different outcome to my original views. This is really fucking bad journalism! I have broken all the rules. But, hey, fuck the rules … I got there in the end.

I’d never heard of Ouroboros before buying this double vinyl but I was drawn in by the fact that one member also plays in A.M.S.G., whose MLP made quite an impression on me. Probably not the most solid foundation upon which to lay out almost €20 of my hard-earned cash but there you go…

Invoking The Past’ is a compilation featuring four tracks from the previously-unreleased ‘The Hammer Speaks’ 10” (not sure how it can be construed as a 10” if it was never released…) on Sides A and B plus 2001 demo ‘Invoking The Worm’ (eight more songs) on Sides C and D … not to mention (but I just did) the pretty pointless addition of a demo version of ‘The Hammer Speaks’, which was already included as Track #1 on Side B (albeit sounding completely different, I suppose).

Generally, what we have is utterly unsophisticated, raw, uncompromising, in-your-face, old-school, garage Black Metal; perhaps what Archgoat or Demoncy might sound like if they recorded their albums in a shed instead of a studio and chucked in occasional samples. Upon repeated listening to an album that at first didn’t click with me, I’m getting the distinct impression that Ouroboros were ahead of their time. And, while I’m all for unpolished and raw, the music on this collection is oftentimes too rough and ready, unprofessional / unaccomplished and unengaging for even my liking.

The second record is much better than the first one, leaning more towards the aforementioned A.M.S.G., and single-handedly dragging me in and encouraging me to give Sides A and B repeated spins. The more I hear it, the more I get it… I didn’t like the first record at all to begin with; now I recognise how essentially underground and cult and unique it is.

A cool double record comes with gatefold sleeve and 16-page booklet, sealing the deal. ‘Invoking The Past captures perfectly the mood and spirit of a particular moment in time and, while it’s a bit of an analogue mess and at times sounds more like school kids fucking around than anything truly nasty or evil, I have to admit it is quite the charmer. And great drumming!

Memo to self: give the music a chance before you start spouting.

Evilometer: 555/666

ARS MACABRA – III (Odium Records)

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Excellent opener ‘Cursed Paradigm’ sets the tone for a monstrous third full-length from Ars Macabra, who demonstrate rather emphatically that Black Metal doesn’t always have to descend into farce once melodic elements are incorporated into the equation. On ‘III’ the Italians churn out ten tracks of mid- to fast-paced, catchy occult blackness with hooks aplenty but also no shortage of venom.

The production is perfect and the expertly-composed and –executed songs stand out like a black eye on a priest, conspicuous is both their malevolence and their twisted beauty. A fine balance between aggression and harmony allows Ars Macabra to remain both intense and captivating at the same time, while the album rarely becomes tedious even though it lasts for over 50 minutes.

From the line-up that recorded the last full-length six years ago, only guitarist Sathor remains. So in essence, this is practically a new band masquerading under the old name. (In fact, it’s the same personnel who recorded this split, but with the addition of drummer Atum, who sits in the Setherial stool on live missions.) And they have certainly hit the ground running here…

This is an album worth checking out and I believe Ars Macabra could become a force in the Black Metal underground if they can keep this line-up together.

Evilometer: 555/666

ARSONIST LODGE – IANKAIKKINEN, PYSYVA, MUUTTUMATON PIMEYS (Hammer of Hate)

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

As I enjoy a lot of the output released by Hammer of Hate, I thought ‘Iänkaikkinen, Pysyvä, Muuttumaton Pimeys’ would represent a safe enough gamble. I was wrong. When I listen to this (mercifully-short) album, I’m torn between laughing hysterically and throwing up. I’ll cut to the chase: this is total rubbish.

Arsonist Lodge are one of those ‘Black Metal’ (haha) bands that insist on including horrid spoken-word parts, harmonious interchanges, clean vocals and all that sort of nonsense. So melodious and sweet that it is offensive.

There is possibly some genuine Black Metal to be found among the debris (hard to tell, my senses are reeling) but the camp, Eurovision-esque nature of the above-mentioned panderings to feminine (or homosexual?) sensibilities render this album a veritable shitefest. Suffice to say, Arsonist Lodge are not on fire – perhaps someone should rectify this.

Evilometer: 000/666

VLAD TEPES – WAR FUNERAL MARCH LP (Drakkar Productions)

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

War Funeral March’ was first released as a demo tape in 1994. It’s only 20 minutes long but there is some truly fantastic Black Metal to be found on this ‘til-now hidden gem. As far as I’m aware, this is the first time it’s been made available on vinyl and I suppose that makes it a historic release is some ways (maybe).

Drakkar has endeavoured to produce a decent-value record with the four cuts from the ‘Rehearsal Winter ‘93’ demo thrown in as a bonus on Side B, bumping the whole thing up into something approaching proper full-length territory. A nice eight-page A5 booklet is also included so, all in all, there’s plenty to get you chops into.

While adding in the bonus tracks was a good idea theoretically, unfortunately ‘Rehearsal Winter ‘93’ isn’t really much use and it serves only to detract from the overall quality of the album. But ‘War Funeral March’ is monumental stuff altogether – great atmosphere, superb vibe, classic feel to it – and certainly worth the price of admission alone.

To summarise: one amazing demo and one worthless one on either side of a landmark(ish) record.

Evilometer: 444/666

FELL VOICES – REGNUM SATURNI 2LP (Vendetta Records)

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

This is something of a landmark release for Fell Voices as it’s the first one they’ve bothered to christen with an actual title. Their previous two full-lengths were self-titled and ‘Untitled’, while their 2008 ‘Demo’ and subsequent split with Ash Borer also carried no actual handle, as such.

Regnum Saturni’ showcases Fell Voices’ first new recordings in three years and is their first release to boast more than two songs. The three tracks on this album add up to almost 61 minutes so it would clearly be churlish of me to point out that there is nothing but a worthless etching on Side D. Except I just did. One of my pet hates, that, even if it is sometimes unavoidable.

I’ve been championing these guys for so long that I almost forgot how essentially underground they are. When I first started to listen to opening gambit ‘Flesh From Bone’, I was utterly taken aback by the dull, dense sound and the fact that the music was refusing to reveal itself fully to me. It’s not as instantly-catchy as the band’s previous work and I needed more time than usual to digest the album.

Eventually, the true brilliance of what Fell Voices does revealed itself to me yet again in blinding revelatory streaks of light or something and I realised that the Americans had conjured yet another awesome work of majestic, ambient, Cascadian Black Metal. Glad they have resisted the urge to sell out

While I don’t consider ‘Regnum Saturni’ to be Fell Voices’ best work, it is nonetheless well worthy of its place in one of modern-day Black Metal’s most impressive discographies.

Evilometer: 555/666

ANKOU AWAITS – WYLLT (Black Plague Records)

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

I’m not sure it’s possible to be any further removed from the mainstream than Ankou Awaits. Operating on the very periphery of the Black Metal underground – about a million miles and as many aeons from actual civilization – Ankou Awaits is a unique entity, a musical maverick, a law unto itself, a one-man operation that epitomises the most positive facets of the DIY etiquette synonymous with our beloved sub-subgenre.

On his third full-length in as many years, the irrepressible Thomas Eversole has forged together six more slabs of discordant, disjointed, asymmetrical, chaotic Black / Death that takes on a life all of its own. In recent years, I’ve encountered very few artists who’ve managed to conceive a style / sound all of their own, but Ankou Awaits is one such force.

He ploughs a lone furrow, following his muse and remaining blissfully unaware of / immune to all trends and expectations of what Black Metal should be. There’s more variety on ‘Wyllt’ than there was to be found on either ‘Lebor Gabala Erenn’ or ‘Crog Buidhe’, which means that things can become even more disjointed, muddled, random, murky and generally all-over-the place than on the predecessors.

If you like your Black Metal ‘by-the-numbers’, then don’t approach this. It’s complete fucking madness from start to finish, boasting some of the most incongruous song structures known to man or beast. This is one strange journey and it can become a difficult one at times but I think it’s refreshing to find something so genuinely odd in today’s dot-to-dot musical landscape. Love it or hate it, Ankou Awaits will certainly make an impression on you. And that’s what we need; to be moved.

Evilometer: 555/666

A.M.S.G. – THE PRINCIPLE OF EVIL BECOMES THE IDEAL OF THE PROMETHEAN MLP (Antitheist Disseminations / Iron Bonehead Productions)

Monday, April 8th, 2013

The Principle Of Evil Becomes The Ideal Of The Promethean’ may be only 21 minutes long but it packs quite the punch. Quite how A.M.S.G. manages to cram so much variety and homely familiarity into such a brief mini-album is beyond me, but suffice to say this is well worth the mere €12 it would set you back.

Canadian duo A.M.S.G. (which stands for Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam) originally released this work some two-and-a-half years hitherto but it has only just got the vinyl treatment, which provided me with an ideal excuse to grab a copy (MCDs just don’t cut it and I missed the cassette version).

Over the course of three excellent statements of evil, nasty, horror-film-like, raw Black Metal – with samples aplenty (think Black Metal version of Encoffination’s debut full-length) – we are treated to a truly horrific experience; creepy, varied, mid-paced music providing an ominous, deathly backdrop to some of the most foul vocals this side of good old Satan himself. The music on this EP simply reeks to the high heavens and is a fucking joy to behold.

A prime example of how to inject lashings of melody / atmosphere into your music and still sound EVIL. Watch out too for the debut full-length coming soon courtesy of Profound Lore Records.

Evilometer: 666/666