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Archive for September, 2013

HERETIC CULT REDEEMER – HERETIC CULT REDEEMER LP (Iron Bonehead Productions)

Friday, September 27th, 2013

Heretic Cult Redeemer - Heretic Cult RedeemerI took a leap of faith with this one and purchased the record without having exposed myself to any of the band’s music. Figured I could deduce with a reasonable degree of accuracy from the band’s name and nationality pretty much what I was going to get. Also, I have a lot of faith in the label.

Most times 2 + 2 = 4, no matter what the know-it-all motherfuckers who pop up everywhere try to tell you…

So, I was anticipating occult, mystical Black / Death Metal, mid-paced, with a generous dollop of melody; maybe with some samples and evil ambient parts. What I got was occult, mystical Black / Death Metal, mid-paced, with a generous dollop of melody; and no samples or evil ambient parts. Which is fair enough. Eschewing pomposity, the evilness is competently infused through the song-writing and delivery, both of which are top notch.

Great production, too, and the white vinyl LP comes in a deluxe gatefold cover with a – wait for it! – big bastard poster included. Lyrics on the inner fold of the jacket as well. All in all, an album that does exactly what it promises and, while admittedly lacking that indefinable something that would qualify it as a classic / mandatory purchase, ‘Heretic Cult Redeemer’ – which could be described as a less-esoteric and more-understated Acherontas – is nonetheless a commendable volume of solid Black Metal.

Evilometer: 555/666

ARCANUS TENEBRAE – ODIUM IN HOMINES LP (Drakkar Productions)

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

Arcanus Tenebrae - Odium In HominesWhen ‘Odium In Homines’ was originally released on CD format five years ago, I snapped it up and fell in love with it instantly. Arcanus Tenebrae’s debut full-length is a magnificent slab of occult, underground Black Metal art, so I was thrilled to read that it was getting a vinyl reworking (alongside follow-up ‘Summa Essentia Obscura’)

While this isn’t a new release per se (only wankers use the phrase per se), it is certainly worth checking out and – to my mind – showcases some of the finest grim, noisy blackness to emerge from the flourishing Lusitanian scene. It’s raw and fierce and harsh but there are some catchy bits in there, too. A nice inlay is included, but no lyrics.

Funnily, I’d expect a release like this to surface on Discipline (or Altare) rather than Drakkar. But there’s no denying the quality of the music on ‘Odium In Homines’ and I’m looking forward to seeing what this nightmarish fiend comes up with next.

Evilometer: 666/666

GORRCH – GORRCH (Schattenkult Produktionen)

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Gorrch - GorrchFeaturing Chimsicrin from Chelmno (a band I need to listen to properly), Gorrch is a new Dolomitic Black Metal duo worthy of you attention. This self-titled EP is only 21 minutes long but the five songs on ‘Gorrch’ are of a very, very high quality. And the cassette – which is limited to 200 units – will set you back a mere €3!

However, if you are seeking something professional and polished, look elsewhere. This delightful tape comprises ancient, underground Black Metal from the deepest, darkest trenches; eerie, haunting and with a genuine otherworldly vibe. It swirls, cascades and wraps itself around you like ravenous tendrils / branches, devilishly layered and textured, but very much analogue and authentic.

A lot going on and it reveals itself slowly, getting better with repeated listens. I have a great deal of time for the underground ethos of Schattenkult Produktionen and its ability to unearth exciting new sounds (like the astonishing Sale Freux); Gorrch is another fantastic discovery.

Evilometer: 555/666

THE RUINS OF BEVERAST – BLOOD VAULTS – THE BLAZING GOSPEL OF HEINRICH KRAMER 2LP (Ván Records)

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

The Ruins Of Beverast - Blood VaultsBlood Vaults – The Blazing Gospel of Heinrich Kramer’ isn’t so much a new album as a seismic event. I fear that I’m not a conscientious or wordy enough writer to do justice to Alexander von Meilenwald’s latest incredible opus –a sprawling, 78-minute concept album that beguiles and soothes from start to finish and is a worthy addition to one of the truly outstanding musical canons.

Like all great artists, The Ruins Of Beverast has managed to hone its own distinct sound without becoming tedious; a sound that is instantly recognisable and always thoroughly enjoyable. I’m not sure how he does it, what the magical formula is (sheer genius, perhaps?), but I never think ‘oh, the same shit again – I’ve heard it all before’. Instead, I revel in each new full-length offering from a man who deserves all the kudos and respect he gets.

I listen to all of The Ruins Of Beverast’s albums over and over again (not many bands I can say that about!) and I honestly cannot imagine how anybody could fail to appreciate this amazing art form. Thus, though it does seem to peter out a little towards the end, this is probably one of the safest purchases you are ever likely to make.

As ever, the song-writing is top notch, the lyrics fascinating, the execution of the songs uncannily perfect and the value for money – ‘Blood Vaults’ is twice as long as most albums! – beyond question. The records are housed in a fabulous gatefold jacket with two lovely inlays included. Okay, there’s arguably more doom than black on here – and that would normally bother me greatly – but in the case of The Ruins of Beverast, when the music is so exceptional, there should be no quibbling.

Like its three pristine predecessors, ‘Blood Vaults – The Blazing Gospel of Heinrich Kramer’ is utterly monumental in every way. As they say in the drumlins and watering holes of Monaghan: “he’s some man for one man”.

Evilometer: 666/666

SVARTIÐAUDI – FLESH CATHEDRAL 2LP (Terratur Possessions / Daemon Worship Productions)

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Svartidauði - Flesh CathedralSvartidauði’s ‘Flesh Cathedral’ ranks as one of my most eagerly-awaited vinyl releases of all time. It seemed to take an eternity to arrive in the vinyl format, but finally the grand double-record edition is upon us. And the postsnail has delivered my copy at last… Needless to say, this is an essential release and I would unconditionally advise Black Metal fans to go out and acquire same at the earliest possible opportunity.

It’s been a full nine months since this spectacular debut album was unleashed on CD and I’m going to take a bold leap of faith here and assume that most of you already know all about the Icelandic magic contained herein.

In other words: here comes a(nother) very short review! For the uninitiated, suffice to say that ‘Flesh Cathedral’ – ferocious, menacing, eerie, infectious, supreme, unapologetically heavy – is a monumental, suffocating, claustrophobic journey, with four epic, underground Black / Death Metal anthems spread out across 56 captivating minutes that represent one of the most wholesome extreme music listening experiences you are likely to encounter. Ever.

This truly awesome album is tailor-made for the 2LP format as one track sits uncontaminated on each side and, all in all, this is one of the most magical buys you will make this year or any other. One gripe, though: the records come in a sublime gatefold sleeve but for some reason the band / labels haven’t bothered to include any lyrics, which – seeing as they are already out there – would surely be more welcome than the really, really dumb poster?

Evilometer: 666/666

MASTER – THE WITCHHUNT (F.D.A. Rekotz)

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Master - The WitchhuntThe Ego has noticed that when I appraise albums by what one might construe as bigger bands, my  blog receives more hits. More people want to read about your Watains, Burzums and Satyricons – acts that I should probably ignore – than your Necrostrigises, Wulkanazes and Antediluviums (or should that be Antediluvia?). The Ego – always making demands – dictated that I should check out the latest Master album – and slate it! – simply to attract more traffic to BlackMetalReviews. The Ego is a cunt. He is a different entity to (the) me, if some of what I read is to be believed.

Anyway, I effectively gave up on Master after they released their second album, ‘On The Seventh Day God Created … Master’, which I didn’t much like. Really enjoyed their eponymous debut, though – but that was released 23 years ago! I have since ignored Paul Speckmann and co. to such an extent that I didn’t even realise Master still existed as a going concern. I am astounded to discover that ‘The Witchhunt’ is in fact their twelfth full-length.

My rather simplistic take of Death Metal these days is that there are some fantastic new, fresh and vibrant bands breathing life into a scene stagnated by the presence of far too many over-the-hill, washed-up, stale has-beens. I was prepared to lump Master into the latter category … but then I listened to the album properly. ‘The Witchhunt’ – replete with great sick vocals – is surprisingly good; it is old school, of course, but the bottom line is that this – though far from mandatory – is a much better release than I’d been anticipating. So I can’t hammer it after all.

Evilometer: 333/666

NECROSTRIGIS – WILKOLAKI KSIEZYCOWEGO PENTAGRAMU LP (Discipline)

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Necrostrigis - Wilkołaki Księżycowego PentagramuWilkołaki Księżycowego Pentagramu’ translates as ‘Werewolves Of Moonlit Pentagram’ and is the debut full-length from Necrostrigis, a Polish underground Black Metal force fuelled by the vision of drummer / vocalist Wolfvamphyr, who enlists the services of Neimad Hellheimm on strings. Surely we have some keys in there, too, or do my ears deceive me badly? (Hint: they don’t.)

There are eight songs on the vinyl edition, with the Hellhammer cover from the original tape version omitted (which is probably no bad thing). The music is slightly more polished than what we got on the brilliant ‘Relics Of Blood Rites Sorcery’ record, but still very much of the raw and ugly variety. I find that this newest release isn’t quite possessed of the same charm as the aforementioned 12’’ EP but, having said that, it’s still a fine serving of harsh, mostly mid-paced, screeching, Carpathian (wolves and woodland vibe very evident) Black Metal in its own right.

All in all, this is a very, very good record with a stellar sound, painful-to-listen-to rasps and some lush melodic parts that do not seem in the least bit contrived or cheesy. Not quite essential, perhaps, but pretty damned close.

Evilometer: 555/666

NECROSTRIGIS – RELICS OF BLOOD RITES SORCERY LP (Discipline)

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Necrostrigis - Relics Of Blood Rites SorceryNecrostrigis cultivates a guitar sound almost like a chainsaw buzzing through flesh on ‘Relics Of Blood Rites Sorcery’, a raw and catchy-as-all-fuck volume of work, which is vastly superior to virtually every record churned out by the world’s bigger and better-known Black Metal acts. Here is proof positive that smaller labels will generally produce all the best Black Metal!

Originally an EP but boosted up to veritable full-length status with the inclusion of a few bonus tracks for the vinyl edition, this is about as humble and modest as BM records come. Although the music is very much of the deepest underground, there are plenty of cool, ancient, tribal passages and ambient touches which render this simple-but-effective record a joy to listen to.

The label has included all the lyrics from the original release inside the fold-over sleeve and additional lyrics are printed on a small white page thrown in for good measure. There is nothing at all sophisticated about what Wolfvamphyr brings to the table here, but – easily on a par with early (free-from-bullshit) Graveland – ‘Relics Of Blood Rites Sorcery’ is fantastic in every conceivable way.

Hark, the wolves they howl.

Evilometer: 666/666

DEATH KARMA – A LIFE NOT WORTH LIVING MLP (Iron Bonehead Productions)

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Death Karma - A Life Not Worth LivingA suitably short review follows for a short record. “A Life Not Worth Living’ is the debut venture from Czech duo Death Karma, both of whom are also members of Cult Of Fire and Maniac Butcher. It’s a mini-album comprising four songs on either side of a nice 45rpm 12” record and boasting a running time of almost 18 minutes.

The bad thing about a short record is that you don’t get as much bang for your buck as you’d no doubt ideally like (not just because shipping charges are the same as for a full-length); the up side – when the music is good – is that you can listen to it two or three times in one sitting (well, make that four or six sittings, I suppose, seeing as the record won’t flip itself over).

Showcasing some fantastic subterranean, evil, dirty Death Metal, ‘A Life Not Worth Living’ is a truly enjoyable listening experience and one that has certainly whet my appetite concerning Death Karma’s future exploits. But – Spoiler Alert! –  don’t play this (as I did) if your children or younger siblings (or parents or boss etc. etc. etc.) are in close proximity…

Evilometer: 555/666

SHINING – 8 ½ – FEBERDRÖMMAR I VAKET TILLSTÅND (Dark Essence Records)

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Shining - 8 ½ – Feberdrömmar I Vaket TillståndShining is one of the most-divisive Black Metal bands of all time, mostly due to the antics of frontman Niklas Kvarforth. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground when it comes to listeners’ perception of this particular crew – most people either love them or hate them.

Personally, I always judge a band 100% on their music and I believe that ‘IV – The Eerie Cold’ and ‘V – Halmstad’ are indisputable masterpieces in the depressive BM sub-subgenre (or any other, for that matter), although the band’s last three albums have been decidedly disappointing by comparison.

I approached this album with an open mind, aware than Shining are capable of producing both great moments and mundane anti-climaxes. However, when I mulled over the precise nature of ‘8 ½ – Feberdrömmar I Vaket Tillstånd’ – essentially a stopgap release featuring old recordings bumped up with new bass and guitar, and the incorporation of keyboards as well as vocal contributions from six different vocalists – I immediately thought one thing: gimmick!

I was prepared for the worst. Shining’s music has been in decline for years and this release smacked of opportunism…

However, having listened to ‘8 ½a number of times, I must report that it is thoroughly enjoyable. Aside from the novelty factor of having the likes of Maniac, Attila Csihar and Gaahl on board (which might appeal to fanboys, but I can take or leave this…), the album is coherent, consistent and superbly-executed from start to finish.

It sounds like a proper album, as opposed to a various-artists compilation and is possessed with a creepy, eerie and unsettling atmosphere throughout. This is easily the best stuff Shining have put their name to in the last six years.

Evilometer: 555/666

CELESTIAL BLOODSHED – Ω LP (Terratur Possessions)

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Celestial Bloodshed - ΩSteingrim Torson’s tragic, sudden death in 2009 came as a sobering jolt as I had been a big fan of pretty much everything he’d put his voice to, particularly the spectacular Kaosritual LP ‘Svøpt Morgenrød’, Selvhat’s little-known but monumental LP ‘Gjennom Mørket Famlende’ and the fantastic Celestial Bloodshed debut full-length record ‘Cursed, Scarred And Forever Possessed’. I was really looking forward to enjoying much more from this surprisingly-unheralded vocalist / musician (Selvhat is a one-man project) … but alas it simply wasn’t to be.

Posthumously, Terratur Possessions has unleashed what will be the final-ever Celestial Bloodshed release, featuring six new songs, which have been lovingly crafted and seamlessly put together against massive odds. For three of these, the vocal tracks were laid down by ST in 2009 with music added by the remainder of the band the following year; ‘Trosbekjennelse’ has been recovered from the vaults from a seven-year-old tape; while assorted friends helped out with vocal duties on the remaining two cuts, also recorded in 2010.

Unsurprisingly, the album – though difficult / expensive to acquire and understandably inconsistent – is brilliant and represents a fitting homage to Celestial Bloodshed’s departed frontman. The lyrics are printed on the inside of a sumptuous gatefold cover and a tasteful poster of the man himself is also included. Unfortunately, at just 34 minutes, the record is disappointingly short – although I note that CB’s debut was virtually the exact same length. Anyway, I suppose its abrupt nature is apt, poignant and fitting under the circumstances. Gone in a flash…

All in all, ‘Ω’ is a lethal parting shot and a worthy tribute to a criminally-underrated Black Metal personality.

Evilometer: 666/666

RAVENMOON SANCTUARY – WINTER DESOLATION OF DEATH LP (Altare Productions)

Monday, September 9th, 2013

Ravenmoon Sanctuary - Winter Desolation Of DeathGerman label Darker Than Black took care of the CD version of Ravenmoon Sanctuary’s debut full-length and the vinyl edition as featured here has subsequently been realised by Altare Productions in Portugal (and is limited to a mere 111 units for some bizarre reason). On ‘Winter Desolation Of Death’, the Poles perform eight tracks of melancholic, depressive, atmospheric Black Metal with soaring keys that threaten at times to hijack the entire album.

Needless to say, the prominent keyboards (courtesy of GrimSpirit from Evilfeast) add a hugely superfluous quotient of melody to the mix. This is an essential component of Ravenmoon Sanctuary’s sound, I can only assume, but, while it’s not necessarily terrible, I find the lashings of keys to be utterly unnecessary and wholly invasive. (For example, ‘Eternity In Ice’ reminds me of ‘Hide And Seek’-era Howard Jones!)

This is still a decent album, with lots of good ideas, interesting tempo changes, enjoyable vocals and a decidedly forlorn atmosphere, but I just wish they’d toned down the keys a lot or maybe even omitted them altogether (there’s a reason why I don’t care much for Evilfeast). Pity.

Evilometer: 333/666

NORDWIND – WALK TO THE WOODS / NORDWIND LP (Obscure Abhorrence Productions)

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

Nordwind - Walk To The Woods NordwindI wasn’t at all familiar with Nordwind until Obscure Abhorrence decided to give them a 2013 airing by releasing this compilation LP on (remastered) vinyl format (limited to less than 300 units). As so often happens with something utterly unknown, curiosity got the better of me and I decided to give it a try. Not a bad course of action as, all in all, this is a reasonably good release but by no means an essential one.

On opposite sides of the record we get the ‘Walk To The Woods’ demo from 1996 and the self-titled 1998 demo. Thirteen songs – including two intros and one outro – comprise just shy of 40 minutes of very melodic, inoffensive and pleasant Black Metal, with soaring keys flitting between the background and foreground, a great sound and an enchanting vibe.

I can see exactly why the label saw fit to resurrect this material as it is way too good to be consigned to history and lost forever. In summing up, I would conclude that ‘Walk To The Woods / Nordwind’ is possibly worth tracking down. This is arguably a hidden gem but, at the same time, the music shows its age a little (not necessarily a bad thing but nevertheless leaving me with the impression that perhaps you had to be there first time around to feel / appreciate the full impact of Nordwind’s mastery).

Evilometer: 444/666

BLUT AUS NORD – THE WORK WHICH TRANSFORMS GOD 2LP (Debemur Morti Productions)

Friday, September 6th, 2013

Blut Aus Nord - The Work Which Transforms GodIt’s been a decade since Blut Aus Nord’s fourth full-length redefined what Black Metal is and can be. When it arrived from slightly left of nowhere, ‘The Work Which Transforms God’ represented an innovative, refreshing and invigorating voice within a scene that was starting to stagnate alarmingly. Ten years on – and now available on sacred vinyl for the first time – these songs still sound absolutely monumental.

To my ears, this stunning album is undoubtedly Vindsval’s finest (and defining) hour, the crowning glory thus far in one of the most inspirational recording careers in Black Metal history (and unlikely to be matched). ‘TWWTG’ is an epiphany for BAN, a modern portrait of urban decay and human decadence, a recording which sent the irresistible French force off on a twisted new tangent that has been reaping rich dividends ever since. The template.

For this sumptuous double-vinyl edition, DMP has pulled out all the stops to deliver a beautiful set of records that adequately does justice to a peerless album that’s every bit as enjoyable as it was ambitious (nothing else sounded anything like this in 2003!). A rare feat that, as in most cases ambition is synonymous with bullshit.

Boasting new artwork, this anniversary edition looks and feels as awesome as it sounds and a great bonus track is thrown in for good measure. Damn, there’s even some sort of drawing inside(!) the fucking gatefold sleeves – where the records sleep. For digital fans, this reissue is also available on limited-edition CD. So everybody should be happy. Supreme!

Evilometer: 666/666

VOID MEDITATION CULT – SULFUROUS PRAYERS OF BLIGHT AND DARKNESS LP (Hells Headbangers Records)

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

Void Meditation Cult - Sulfurous Prayers Of Blight And DarknessTechnically, ‘Sulfurous Prayers Of Blight And Darkness’ is a split LP; effectively – as it features contributions by what are essentially two incarnations of the same (one-man) band – it isn’t.

Side A of the record contains the four songs from Void Meditation Cult’s 2011 demo ‘Sulfurous Prayers’, while Side B is graced with the much-rawer four-track 2009 ‘Blight And Darkness’ demo, which was released under the rather-embarrassing, almost-illiterate handle of Sperm Of Antichrist (the erstwhile moniker Desolate Defiler operated under briefly prior to opting for a well-advised name change that same year). Confused? Me fucking too.

Normally, I wouldn’t condone a change of name mid-stride but, seriously, who wants to be known as Sperm Of Antichrist for any longer than a few minutes? Anyway, the befuddled history lesson has kind of thrown me off the scent, so let us move on to the news…

In terms of the actual music on here, suffice to say that ‘Sulfurous Prayers Of Blight And Darkness’ contains some nice, evil, deathly Black Metal, kind of like a less-immediate Demoncy or Grand Belial’s Key or Encoffination even (with some ambient Darkspace-ish moments included, too). Formulaic it may be – with many songs boasting creepy intros / outros, for example – but it is a winning formula in most respects and, by and large, this is a truly superb record that was well worth the investment.

Evilometer: 555/666