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Archive for August, 2013

GRAV – OMHULDA ONDSKANS KRETSLOPP LP (Ancient Records / Afgrundsvisioner)

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

Grav - Omhulda Ondskans KretsloppUnless I’m getting (handsomely) paid, I’m not inclined to write much about anything; well, ‘Omhulda Ondskans Kretslopp’ certainly doesn’t inspire me to get battering on the old computer keyboard. According to a note on the back cover, this 47-minute long demo was written and recorded in a total of 24 hours. Assuming this is true (which requires quite a stretch of the imagination), it shows.

To cut to the chase, the music on here is, for the most part, banal, bland, low-key, uninspired / uninspiring and underwhelming.

Afraid that I might miss out on something, I tend to gobble up Ancient Records’ limited-edition, vinyl-only releases but, with the benefit of hindsight, this one was a pointless purchase. Listening to the tedious, (laboured) slow- to (pompous) mid-paced ploddings going on here is tough going and – while ‘Omhulda Ondskans Kretslopp’ isn’t necessarily terrible – it also isn’t particularly good. Nor is it Black Metal, as far as I’m concerned, which renders it even more redundant.

When I listen to this record (which won’t happen too many more times, I assure you – if at all), I feel like I’m going to slip into a coma. Then I remember how much money I spent on it and my offended senses return with a vengeance.

Evilometer: 111/666


Friday, August 30th, 2013

Sale Freux  Zépülkr - Les Fables Immorales et Fuites Improbables de Crapefreux en MorteratLes Fables Immorales Et Fuites Improbables De Crapefreux En Morterat’ is a fine example of the unexpected gems that the Black Metal underground can spew forth from time to time. Even though it’s not necessarily brilliant, this album is nevertheless intriguing, captivating and truly unique. What’s not to like?

Prior to purchase, I wasn’t familiar with Zépülkr. But I do appreciate their three contributions to this split, even if their sound does at times veer a little too close to the oftentimes risible Peste Noire for my own personal taste. Generally, though, they deliver some enjoyable Black Metal en français. Three cool tunes; raw-ish with plenty of melody.

Of course, Sale Freux is not an unknown quantity to me as Dunkel’s first two albums under this moniker, ‘Subterraneus’ and ‘La Mélancolie Des Pennes’, blew me away. (I haven’t yet got around to checking out 2012 effort ‘L’Exil’ as it has only been released in CD format thus far (does that make me a snob?)) Anyway, two typically insane offerings from the Brittany act (now a two-piece – plus a murder of crows, by the sound of it!) elevate the record from a solid one to a very, very good one.

The label has done a superb job that merits mention. Nice cover, lay-out etc., while a four-page, 12×12 inlay boasts all the lyrics and some insight into the concept behind the record (I assume). Alas, it’s in French, so I’m none the wiser! All in all, as well as being a serious mouthful, ‘Les Fables Immorales Et Fuites Improbables De Crapefreux En Morterat’ represents an entertaining glimpse into some rather strange goings-on in the French BM underground.

Evilometer: 555/666

SLIDHR – DELUGE LP (Debemur Morti Productions)

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Slidhr - DelugeDon’t think I’ve ever heard a debut album that sounds so accomplished. ‘Deluge’ is an absolute tour de force of Black Metal brilliance from start to finish. Although he’s a veritable veteran of the dark arts, it took J. Deegan a long time to get around to recording a full-length; well, his patience and meticulous attention to detail have paid off in spades.

An astonishing release that is, in all honesty, nigh on perfect, ‘Deluge’ possesses everything I would look for in a stellar Black Metal album. It’s harsh, dark and raw but there is also loads of devilish melody in the songs; the production and sound are top notch; the musicianship is superb; the vocals caustic and painful.

Words can’t really do justice to how good this album is, so I will refrain from diluting its quality with needless superlatives and prose. Suffice to say that, eight years from its conception, Slidhr has come up trumps.

Evilometer: 666/666


Monday, August 26th, 2013

Wulkanaz - HaglaNaudizEisazWulkanaz’s debut album was originally released on cassette – limited to 147 units – last November and ‘HaglaNaudizEisaz’ now re-emerges on vinyl, this edition with a more generous limitation of 300. Altare is likely to have no difficulty shifting these for a number of reasons, not least of which is the quality of the music contained hereon. Short it may be – at just over 31 minutes – but ‘HaglaNaudizEisaz’ is still a fascinating volume of work with some splendid, adventurous, unpredictable analogue Black Metal magic on display.

To be overly-critical, I find that the eclecticism and eccentricity drops off towards the end of Side B as inspiration levels seem to wane (there is also a really shitty bad-sound episode in the middle of the second side) and, as a consequence, things almost threaten to become monotonous and / or tedious … but not quite!

By and large, disappointing finale notwithstanding, this is a thoroughly-commendable effort from one of the most obscure acts operating in the underground right now. Mid- to fast-paced, off-the-wall and refreshingly different, Wulcanaz is an individual deserving of attention.

He appears to be quite prolific, too, so I’m looking forward to hearing more from him soon! The record looks stunning, with a sumptuous gatefold card cover and a twelve-page booklet included. Although probably not as mandatory as its successor, ‘Paúrpura Fræovíbôkôs’, ‘HaglaNaudizEisaz’ is still a record that should be hunted down at all costs.

Evilometer: 666/666

ASH BORER – BLOODLANDS EP (Gilead Media / Psychic Violence)

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

Ash Borer - BloodlandsThe only downside of Ash Borer (and I’m splitting hairs here, as this is a logistical shortcoming that’s completely out of the band’s hands, I guess) is that their records have no European release which, for me, makes them both difficult and (more importantly) relatively expensive to acquire. It’s always worth the effort, though. Everything this band has put its name to so far has been amazing and ‘Bloodlands’ is no exception.

For a so-called EP, this is exceedingly generous length-wise. At almost 35 minutes, ‘Bloodlands’ is actually longer than many Black Metal albums being released these days and I would classify it as an MLP at least. A great record with one epic, stellar track on each side and a download code included for those who want to legally acquire a digital copy. Super stuff, as usual, from the  Californians.

Evilometer: 666/666

ASH BORER – COLD OF AGES 2LP (Pesanta Urfolk)

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

Ash Borer - Cold Of AgesI had a friend once who loved football but didn’t have a favourite team. At first, I thought this was unusual. How could you not support a particular team? Surely this would dilute your love for the game? The more I thought about it, the more I realised that he was right not to pledge his allegiance to anybody. When you nail your colours to one mast, then you become blinded by bias and are unable to appreciate fully the brilliance of players on other teams.

What has this got to do with Ash Borer? I hear you ask. Well, nothing, really. But I just realised this morning that I don’t have a favourite Black Metal band. If I was asked who my favourite artists are, I would struggle to name three or four off the top of my head. Not sure why that is. Suppose you have to keep your options open. If, however, I did happen to have a favourite band, then Ash Borer would be close – very, very close – to top of the pile.

Cold Of Ages” is an astonishing full-length that clocks in over the hour mark and really comes into its own in this double-LP format, with each of the four songs afforded its own platform. Musically, this album is pretty much perfect in terms of tone, balance, dynamic, composition and execution. What more can I say? – a truly incredible band and an essential release.

Evilometer: 666/666


Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Owl's Blood - Lunar EquilibriumFeaturing the driving forces behind Ostots and Sentimen Beltza, Owl’s Blood is another blazing, old-school, majestic Black Metal entity out of the Basque region and this is their 2011 demo tape (and only substantial release to date) reissued on vinyl, encased in a silk-screened jacket and limited to a mere 200 units.

With just five songs included, it’s all over in a fuzzy flash but I think this one was well worth the investment of around €18 including postage (Denmark – Ireland) to purchase directly from the label. The lyrics are simply typeset onto a bland white A4 sheet (better to get them than not!) but the cover and the record itself ooze underground appeal while the music – a bit like either Oindurth’s or IA’s main projects covering Darkthrone classics in their own inimitable styles, perhaps – is quite special.

Definitely not the most amazing record you’re ever going to hear – but ‘Lunar Equilibrium’ is still a worthwhile acquisition for any follower of quality underground BM. And, compared to recent efforts from the likes of the aforementioned Darkthrone or fellow letter-day shitemongers Watain, Enslaved or Burzum, this is simply amazing! (Not sure exactly why owls(!) seem to be assuming a more pronounced presence in Black Metal ideology, though.)

Evilometer: 555/666


Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Fuil Na Seanchoille - HungerI get a bit pissed off with tapes sometimes and find myself thinking that perhaps I’ll stop buying them. Of the various avenues open to mankind of listening to music, cassette is definitely the least convenient. Generally, also the shittiest-sounding, least versatile and ugliest-looking, too. A good experience like ‘Hunger’ can quickly remove all doubts and misgivings, however.

In stark contrast to many other tapes, which are often mere demos and can include only a handful of songs, ‘Hunger’ is a proper full-length in every respect and the quality of music on display here is absolutely top-notch. I’ve actually had this album in my collection for quite some time but have only got around to listening to it properly (pissed off with tapes…) these past couple of weeks. I have to say, this is an immense volume of work.

Raw, grim underground Black Metal with an immense, overwhelming sense of darkness and some majestic ambient passages is the order of the day. The sound is truly fantastic for an analogue release and, all in all, Fuil Na Seanchoille proves here that the self-titled vinyl demo collection was no fluke. This is even better. Limited to 200 units, however, and not exactly new, so you might have to dig around a little to bag a copy.

Resist the urge to pay some cunt over the odds, though (even if it is worth it) – a reissue is bound to follow at some stage. Or maybe a CD or vinyl edition. This album is simply too good to disappear into complete obscurity.

Evilometer: 666/666


Saturday, August 17th, 2013

Black Cilice - Summoning The NightBlack Cilice’s debut full-length ‘A Corpse, A Temple’ was really fantastic, so I bought the follow-up with total confidence. An almost-identical front cover re-assured me that I was in for more of the same – which is precisely what I was looking for! (This clearly isn’t a band that’s suddenly going to change its approach and go all mature / mainstream…)

Once more, we have six songs – comprising a running time of 35 minutes. From start to finish, it’s fuzzing, violent, distorted underground Black Metal … with melody essentially conspicuous by its absence. The inclusion of a lyric sheet serves to highlight just how unorthodox and out there the howls and bellows are. Impossible to follow, but it’s interesting to have a read through the lyrics in any case as they provide an insight into the mindset and conceptual content involved.

Everything I wrote in my review of ‘A Corpse, A Temple’ applies again here (how’s that for a short cut?). Released on a sister label of the ever-dependable Discipline / Bubonic, ‘Summoning The Night’ is a worthy follow-up to Black Cilice’s magnificent debut and yet another example of supreme Portuguese decadence.

Evilometer: 555/666


Friday, August 16th, 2013

Welter In Thy Blood - TodestriebKnow the way a knee in the balls or a smack in the jaw can be refreshing? How it can reinvigorate your senses and awake you from your stupor? That’s how I feel about Welter In Thy Blood’s third full-length, ‘Todestrieb’ … an ugly, relentless, merciless, tortuous and unapologetically weighty journey that will crush your hopes, demoralise you, and leave you feeling alive.

This not-to-be-pigeonholed three-piece hails from sunny Los Angeles but do not let that influence your perception: they possess a most un-sunny (dis)position. Ploughing their own furrow, charting their own path, irrespective of trends and the natural gravitation of sheep / lemmings, WITB merge Black Metal, drone, noise, field recordings and experimental sounds into a horrific, tortured and deeply personal brew of hatred and despondency.

The lesson I learned from listening to this five-track CD – and from corresponding with the band – is that when you are alone in a crowd then you are every bit as isolated from humanity as, say, a hermit living in the darkest, most secluded crevices of civilisation. A mental outpost presents at least the same solitude as physically dwelling within the harsh, cold terrain of Northern Europe.

Though hardly executed at breakneck pace, ‘Todestrieb’ is a challenging listen, an album that is clearly not intended for society’s lowest-common-denominator denizens. Innovative, uncompromising, traumatic and mesmerising in equal doses, this 45-minute aural nightmare (think a more-fucked-up, dragged-out and deranged Blut Aus Nord and you might be somewhere close) constitutes a welcome antidote to … everything. Extreme music by extreme people for extreme people.

Evilometer: 666/666


Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Sargeist - The Rebirth Of A Cursed ExistenceAs we wait patiently for a new Sargeist album, this stop-gap release is more than adequate to keep hunger at bay. ‘The Rebirth Of A Cursed Existence’ features 14 songs that were previously only available either on splits, 7”s or compilations … or as bonus tracks on vinyl LPs. They have all been remastered for this fantastic 72-minute long CD which constitutes an ideal way of catching up on some of the band’s lesser-known gems.

Not that any of their music is well-known…

You can’t go wrong with this album, which in many (if not all) respects is every bit as enjoyable and worthwhile as a full-length proper. I’ve decided to pen a very quick review for two reasons: firstly, you deserve to hear that this exists; secondly, I don’t want those Watain wankers hogging the limelight at the top of my homepage.

Evilometer: 555/666

WATAIN – THE WILD HUNT (Century Media)

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Watain - The Wild HuntThe title track on Watain’s fifth full-length sounds – at best – like a hybrid of Europe and Pink Floyd. In other words, it is complete and utter garbage. The sixth offering, ‘They Rode On’, is even worse: probably the greatest abomination I have ever heard under the flag of Black Metal. Imagine a mixture of Poison and ‘Dead Or Alive’-era Bon Jovi only with crappy Eurovision-style vocals, if you can.

Sounds bad, eh? Well, believe me, it is even worse than that. Fucking shameful, shameful, shameful shit. It doesn’t matter what the rest of the album sounds like (bland as a salad sandwich, by the way), Watain have shat all over their legacy and they no longer deserve support. I don’t give a flying damn how many glossy limited editions of this album exist or whether the double vinyl will be on red or black wax or about stupid box sets with bonus seven inches and fucking altar cloths.

There were signs of decline on ‘Lawless Darkness’ but nothing prepared me for this. ‘The Wild Hunt’ is so terrible, ill-advised and pompous that I will never be able to listen to my old Watain records again. It’s no surprise that Century Media is associated with such an awful album but the pathetic nature of this outrage is 100% Watain’s own fault. This is so bad it hurts.

They Rode, indeed. Fuck off, Watain.

Evilometer: 000/666


Monday, August 12th, 2013

Ancient Records - Demo Compilation Part OneA couple of minutes into my first listen to this record, I was starting to suspect that it represented a serious misjudgement in the quality control department at Ancient Records. ‘Demo Compilation Part 1’ collates material that would otherwise never have been released (in other words, rejects that have been scooped up off the cutting-room floor!) and sticks it onto a 12” record for the entertainment of the small handful of people who might give a fuck. Smell a rat?

I didn’t know any of this when I parted with my considerable quantity of cash (it’s printed on the record sleeve). There was no information anywhere regarding what exactly this release comprised. Had I known it was merely glorified out-takes, I might have given it a wide berth. But, lacking inside information, my curiosity got the better of me and I travelled bravely via Paypal seeking a possible gem…

Sir N. of Acerbitas, Grifteskymfning, Grav (review of ‘Omhulda Ondskans Kretslopp’ LP coming soon), Hädanfärd and Svartrit performs the music (I use the word very loosely) here but the material obviously doesn’t fit within the concept of any of those bands as none of them are credited with it. There are basically two long compositions, one on each side (doh!), which are neither music nor songs. Nor Black Metal, for that matter. More like a mindset … expressions of hate and dismay, angst and horror. The soundtrack to a nightmare. Resident Evil with a pocketful of Rohypnol.

It’s truly sinister work; spontaneous, freeform and unrehearsed. A wall of crazy noise with some equally-disturbing calmer sections that some will feel should never have been released – while others might find in it something unique and special.

Personally, having got over the total shit-ness of the opening moments (both in terms of sound and composition), I’m very much in the latter camp. Definitely not for everybody, though and these curios are far from cheap, so approach with caution.

Evilometer: 444/666

TERATISM – LA BAS MLP (Negativity Records)

Saturday, August 10th, 2013

Teratism - La BasSometimes a label pulls out all the stops, presentation-wise, and elevates a release head and shoulders above the competition. (Debemur Morti Productions, for example, does this on a regular basis.) Negativity Records – which was previously unknown to me – appears to be another fledgling label that places a major emphasis on quality; they’ve certainly executed a stand-out job with ‘La Bas’, a wonderful four-track mini-album from demonic US quintet Teratism.

Normally, with just four songs on offer, one would expect to get fuck-all bang for their buck. But that’s not the case with ‘La Bas’, which is a vinyl-only release, limited to 500 units. First of all (and most importantly(?)), the music is fantastic. Bestial, diabolical incantations ejaculated forth from Satan’s loin (where they’ve been festering for a few years, I believe), the songs are imbued with a genuinely unsettling, perverse and corrupt identity, leaving the listener in no doubt as to the validity of the artists’ convictions.

Secondly (and perhaps the real clincher), there’s the aesthetics of the record: white and black splatter housed within a strong casing, including poster (yahoo!) and twelve-page booklet. Lots of cool artwork, a band photo and lyrics to all four cuts (including the Black Widow cover – my father-in-law used to listen to them…) are to be found herein.

In this cold, digital, quick-fix, cheap-thrills era, an investment of time and imagination such as this potentially makes all the difference. A good record can become a great one. The customer is purchasing an actual product; something truly unique and fetching that could never be downloaded. Do judge a book by its cover! If it walks like a dog, barks like a dog, shits like a dog … well, chances are it’s a dog.

I’d lost track of Teratism in the five years since ‘Pure Unadulterated Hate’ but will now be watching out, breath bated, for their imminent fifth full-length. The only downside of ‘La Bas’ is that it’s all over too quickly, but a whole LP’s worth of material in this style – and of this calibre – would be truly immense.

Evilometer: 666/666


Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Adversarial AntediluvianShortly after ‘Through The Cervix Of Hawaah’, Antediluvian conspired with their compatriots Adversarial to deliver the exceptional split album that is ‘Initiated In Impiety As Mysteries’. The record contains only three songs from each band and boasts a running time of less than 28 minutes, yet it’s still one of the best split albums you’re ever likely to purchase.

The offerings from Antediluvian are every bit as amazing as we’ve come to expect from this awesome anti-music entity. Indeed, it might not be a stretch to suggest that ‘Force Of Suns Of Adversary’, ‘Dissolution Spires’ and ‘Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh (I Am That I Am)’ rank right up there with the very best material they’ve ever recorded (and, believe me, that’s saying something!)

I’m not otherwise familiar with Adversarial and I’m not sure what they normally sound like but here they give Antediluvian a real run for their money with a similar brand of guttural, lo-fi, inaccessible Death Metal disharmony. In many ways, this is almost like an Antediluvian MLP, so similar is the vibe and attitude on both sides.

Released last summer, ‘Initiated In Impiety As Mysteries’ is by no means a new LP but is still readily available and is well worth checking out.

Evilometer: 666/666