Tuesday, May 30, 2017 09:14

Archive for May, 2013

BLOODLINE – WEREWOLF TRAINING LP (Blut & Eisen Productions)

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Bloodline - Werewolf TrainingWhen this album came out on CD ten years ago, I thought it was amazing. I was thrilled when I heard that it was getting a vinyl revamp and guess what? I still fucking love it. Featuring members of Aborym, Diabolium and Carpathian Forest, ‘Werewolf Training’ is the creation of a veritable Black Metal supergroup and it still sounds as essential and relevant today as it did a decade hitherto.

This album boasts a fantastic atmosphere, wonderful lyrics, a great sound, devilish melody and plenty of animosity. Mostly mid-paced and catchy as all fuck, it’s certainly more accessible than most of the Black Metal I champion on here but, hell, ‘Werewolf Training’ is just a classic in every way. I was surprised that it slipped under the radar first time around and it’ll undoubtedly do the same this time. But who cares?

You could do much, much worse than checking this out. The vinyl version includes a bonus cover of a Ministry song, which represents the icing on the cake (or the blood on the knife?) of a truly fine album. Whereas some LPs are challenging, arcane, esoteric or whatever, this one is just a superb listen from start to finish. Like catching up with an old friend (who doesn’t turn out to be an asshole (which is quite rare (time fucks people up))).

How’s that for grammatical use of the comma?

Evilometer: 666/666

UNBEING – TRANSCENDENCE (Terratur Possessions)

Friday, May 24th, 2013

There’s so much to recommend about Unbeing’s third demo cassette that it’s difficult to know where to start. This is one of those releases that I quite simply had to buy because of its place in Norwegian Black Metal history. I’m glad I bought it but actually don’t think I’ll be revisiting it too often, to be honest.

The product of a genuine underground entity from Norway, ‘Transcendence’ comes as a pro-tape and will set you back just €6. It contains only one song, which clocks in at somewhere in excess of 20 minutes (I didn’t time it) and that same tune is featured on both sides. So, if you have a trendy tape recorder, you can listen to it twice in one sitting!

Unbeing once featured the talent of one Steingrim Torson (R.I.P.), but Sarath stood in to assist the eponymous mainman (i.e. Unbeing) on this third and final chapter in the band’s short but intriguing history. The song itself is droning and sludgey blackness rather than Black Metal and I suppose it is kind of transcendental and mystical in a way. But – as well as being inexpensive and poignant –  ultimately, ‘Transcendence’ is also boring.

Evilometer: 333/666

HORNA – ASKEL LAHEMPANA SAATANAA LP (World Terror Committee)

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Thank Satan for Horna. The Finns are one of those bands you can always depend upon to consistently deliver solid albums and eighth full-length ‘Askel Lähempänä Saatanaa’ is yet another worthy effort from Shatraug and his unblessed partners in grime. The integration of new vocalist Spellgoth into the camp is a possible talking point but let it be known that there is no radical departure from the tried-and-trusted Horna formula (well, not as far as I can detect, anyway).

Horna have kept the bar remarkably high for the last decade-and-a-half, releasing one quality LP after another. My own personal favourites have been ‘Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne’ and ‘Ääniä Yössä’ but I can honestly say I’ve never stuck on a Horna record or CD and thought ‘this blows’ (although, to be fair, ‘Sotahuuto’ was far from a classic).

Five years on from the monstrous clearing of the decks that was ‘Sanojesi Äärelle’, the Finns have returned with a typically brilliant slab of grim Black Metal that sears through the speakers like Lucifer’s cum and takes no prisoners along the way. Creepy intro ‘Alku’ sets the tone and some 48 minutes and nine subsequent tracks later we know we are truly in the presence of evil.

An excellent production lets every note blaze through from the netherworld and a tasty inlay on the vinyl edition supplements an already-fantastic release.

Evilometer: 555/666

ARCKANUM – FENRIS KINDIR (Season Of Mist)

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Must admit to being blown away by the scorching guitar sound conjured by Shamaatae on Arckanum’s eighth full-length proper, ‘Fenris Kindir’. The strings are like weapons; they sound like they could tear through flesh. They lend the album a truly searing, blistering quality which immediately elevates it into the upper echelons of recent releases.

I had pretty much given up on Arckanum after he parted company with Debemur Morti Productions (surely a mistake…) and landed the abysmally inadequate ‘Sviga Læ’ album, but ‘Fenris Kindir’ represents a definite return to form and can stand toe-to-toe with the likes of ‘Kostogher’ and ‘Antikosmos’ in one of Black Metal’s great canons.

All in all, this is a surprisingly-good album with plenty of variety, superb musicianship and undoubted quality throughout. No need to say any more, really.

Evilometer: 555/666

ÀRSAIDH – ROOTS (Darker Than Black)

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

For some totally illogical reason – I have no idea why – I harboured very high expectations for this album, even though it comes from a totally unknown entity. Just had a gut feeling it was going to be great… Unfortunately, ‘Roots’ doesn’t manage to give me what I was hoping for.

Àrsaidh is a one-man act from Scotland performing atmospheric Black Metal which pays homage to the mysterious history and heritage of the creator’s native Highlands. Three lengthy songs plus one short instrumental add up to a total running time of 50 minutes.

A. boldly incorporates violin, keys, bagpipes (of course) and acoustic guitars into the mix but, alas, his ambition backfires as the folk influences become way too pronounced for my liking and, to my displeased ears, the songs come across as long rather than epic.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal taste and I find ‘Roots’ to be too melodic and lush. I’m sure lots of people will get off on this but I don’t particularly like pagan metal.

Evilometer: 222/666

AKITSA / ASH POOL – SPLIT LP (Tour De Garde / Hospital Productions)

Monday, May 13th, 2013

What an intriguing collaboration we have on our hands here! Two great underground Black Metal acts coming together for what can only be termed a cult split, released on vinyl and bled forth from the corrupted womb by labels in which the bands in question have a clear vested interest. The result is quite mind-blowing…

This split is actually called ‘Arraché à la mort, forcé à vivre et mourir à nouveau’ or ‘Ripped From Death, Forced To Live, And Die Again’ depending on which side you’re referring to. But why nit-pick? ‘Split LP’ will do just fine. Fits better above.

I’m a sucker for Akitsa and can’t get enough of their third and fourth full-lengths, which were re-released on vinyl by World Terror Committee recently, namely ‘La Grande Infamie’ and ‘Au Crépuscule De l’espérance’. If you have yet to hear the epic, 21-minute closing track on the former album, ‘Foret Disparue’, then I can only recommend that you check it out asap.

Anyway, returning to the matter at hand, Akitsa’s side of this split comprises three superb examples of stellar Black Metal art, completely and utterly of the underground – as in beneath a north North American forest – complemented by two instrumentals. Cool-as-fuck stuff.

Ash Pool’s side is noticeably louder, both sound-wise and in terms of the message it conveys. I keep forgetting to adjust the volume after flipping the black wax over. And they are just crazy, too, these guys. Demented and weird lyrics provide the befuddling backdrop to their four offerings of strange and raw but addictive Black Metal magic, completing a really obscure collection of tunes that all fans of the subgenre should at least consider investigating.

Evilometer: 555/666

SENTIMEN BELTZA – ILTZEAK LP (Titan Woods / Spitako Studios)

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

Iltzeak’ is the sixth Sentimen Beltza release I’ve reviewed here so I’m pretty sure Oindurth SaVinitta now holds the dubious honour of Most Reviewed Artist on Black Metal Reviews. This was actually the Basque warrior’s debut full-length, spat out on tape by Gorpubelatze Productions four-and-a-half years ago and resurrected in the vinyl format sometime last year.

In a way, what you are reading is probably a pointless review as this edition of the album is limited to one hundred units and may be somewhat difficult to acquire at this stage. However, listening to it again recently, I was quite taken by the underground ethic at work (Xeroxed pictures glued on to each side of the all-black cover), which reminded me that those who are truly passionate about Black Metal can overcome lack of funds with creativity and determination. I wanted to give the labels concerned a thumbs-up, even if it is unlikely to boost their sales…

There’s nothing cheap about this release, however. A historic record from one of my personal favourite bands, ‘Iltzeak’ is definitely not Sentimen Beltza’s best album – but is is  still a whole lot better than the produce of most other Black Metal bands.

Evilometer: 555/666

THE EYE – SUPREMACY LP (Debemur Morti Productions)

Monday, May 6th, 2013

The very mention of the name Vindsval should be enough to pique your interest here. The Blut Aus Nord mainman conceived The Eye in the mid-90s and debut full-length ‘Supremacy’ was released in ‘97 (interestingly, the year after BAN’s second opus, ‘Memoria Vetusta I: Fathers Of The Icy Age’ and a full six years before the epiphanic ‘The Work Which Transforms God’).

I was going to say that, apart from the involvement of Vindsval, The Eye doesn’t really have anything to do with Blut Aus Nord … before realising that this would be a dumb statement. So I won’t say it. But I will stress that, musically, there are few comparisons between the two projects. ‘Supremacy’ delivers 40 minutes of almost-epic pagan Black Metal, very melodious and harmonic and bordering on exotic at times.

I found it fascinating to listen along to this alternate visage and I must admit the fact that the composer / executor was only 18 years old when he threw this together is mightily impressive. As ever, the album has been lovingly resurrected by DMP, with a sumptuous gatefold jacket and a fucking fucker of a poster, hehe. The vinyl edition does tremendous justice to the stunning artwork and reverently complements what constitutes a true musical curio as well as a slice of history.

Debemur Morti should have offered a money back guarantee with this record because it is extremely unlikely that anybody will purchase it and regret doing so. (Having said that, there are a lot of mongs in the world.) Worth acquiring; and I believe a follow-up album from The Eye is also imminent.

Evilometer: 555/666

VLAP TEPES – ANTHOLOGIE NOIRE (Drakkar Productions)

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

Anthologie Noire’ is a double CD compilation gathering well over two hours’ worth of material from five hard-to-get demos plus a rehearsal. ‘The Return Of The Unweeping’, ‘Celtic Poetry’, ‘Into Frosty Madness’ and ‘Dans Notre Chute…’ were also each released on 12” LP around the same time (last month) and – even though these records cost only €12 each – they were still prohibitively expensive to acquire as a collective in the vinyl format once the cost of shipment was factored into the equation.

Why not put them all on one double LP for €18? After all, we are in the midst of a global fucking recession! The elite nature of Black Metal was never meant to be due to the fact that people can’t afford it. Fuck me ragged.

Anyway, rant over. I decided to wait and go for the budget option and, as the 2CD also includes ‘The Black Legions’ and ‘Rehearsal’ as bonuses (Is bonus the right word? I mean, if somebody punches you four times and then kicks you twice, are the kicks bonuses?), this was really a no-brainer. Trust me, I’m not dumb enough to put vinyl ahead of compact disc if it’s going to cost me almost €50 extra (including postage – and with less songs) to do so!

Must say, I’d be sickened if I’d bought the records because some of the music on here is total garbage. Quality-wise, ‘Anthologie Noire’ captures (a bit of) the best and (a lot of) the worst of Vlad Tepes, so it’s a fair enough representation of their history. Fluctuating from some utter dross to rare moments of inspiration, this is a triumph for quantity over quality (if for anything – maybe I should say a defeat for quality at the hands of quantity…).

For those who love Vlad Tepes unconditionally (what an unfortunate affliction that would be), it’s a great way to catch up with a bucketload of rare material in one go. For the rest of us, we are at least getting lots of material for the relatively-modest (compared to the vinyl) price of admission (even if much of what we’re getting is – for want of a better word – shit).

Evilometer: 222/666

KRYPTS – UNENDING DEGRADATION LP (Me Saco Un Ojo Records / Detest Records)

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

The debut full-length from Helsinki-based Krypts comprises almost 40 minutes of great mid-paced, semi-guttural Death Metal with a dark and evil atmosphere. This album is an exercise in simplicity itself, sticking to tried and trusted formulae to spawn a truly fantastic, catchy-as-Leprosy work that sounds spontaneous, organic and downright awesome.

In a way, it’s almost like the last 20 years didn’t happen at all. Certainly no harm in that… There’s no need to overcomplicated Death Metal (or Black Metal, for that matter) and it’s refreshing to listen to some genuine music untainted by post-this and / or avant-that. (Isn’t post-metal the most abominable development ever?)

This is perfectly-produced, excellently-executed DM and – admirably – it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to unravel the lyrical themes. The record includes a neat A5 booklet with lyrics etc. and looks as impressive as it sounds. If you like good, honest Death Metal then you are sure to appreciate what Krypts are doing on ‘Unending Degradation’.

Evilometer: 555/666