Saturday, September 23, 2017 21:56

Archive for October, 2013

ILDJARN / HATE FOREST – THOSE ONCE MIGHTY FALLEN 2LP (Osmose Productions)

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Those Once Mighty FallenThis split album comes as a welcome surprise. Both these acts have ceased to be, so the excavation of lost material from the vaults is the Black Metal equivalent of the resurrection. Except it’s real, of course… For anyone who enjoys what could loosely be described as ‘raw, forest BM’, “Those Once Mighty Fallen’ is an essential purchase.

The lost recordings are surprisingly great (the best way to capture the spirit of a bygone era is to be literally of that era!) and have been re-mastered to ensure a better production than what I’d normally associate with Ildjarn in particular. The vinyl edition (heavy gatefold sleeve; 180g discs) is especially substantial as each artist has a dedicated record of their own; also bear in mind that this could be as close as we’ll ever get to sampling new material from either.

Nothing more to say: ‘Those Once Mighty Fallen’ is superb as well as poignant

Evilometer: 666/666

GORGUTS – COLORED SANDS 2LP (Season Of Mist)

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Gorguts - Colored SandsWow! Holy fuck! Christ on a cross! Shit on a stick! What an unexpected surprise this is. Somewhere in a previous review, I casually dismissed the new Gorguts album, having only half-listened to it in MP3 format. Subsequently, I decided to grant it a proper audience. So impressed I was upon taking a proper listen that I humbly plunged a wad of cash on the double-vinyl edition.

In a nutshell: the supremely-executed occult Death Metal showcased on these LPs has to be heard to be believed.

Compared to the halcyon days, mainman Luc Lemay has assembled a whole new band around him, to the extent where I’m wondering where does Gorguts end and something else begin. But I suppose Gorguts has always been his baby and on ‘Colored Sands’ he has crafted a full-length that sits easily beside the fantastic 1991-2001 back catalogue.

Steeped in Tibetan / Buddhist mysticism, this concept album truly is a thing of magnificence and, to complete the deal, the records come in a beautiful gatefold cover with lyrics and sleeve notes all included. This is everything I thought ‘Odori Sepulcrorum’ might be – and then some. Normally, I would be the first to champion something new, but in this instance I have to hold my hands up and declare: leave it to the masters.

Evilometer: 666/666

INCURSUS – ADAESTUO MLP (Forever Plagued Records)

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Incursus - AdaestuoAdaestuo’ is only 21 minutes long but it still manages to convey emphatically just how exceptional an entity Incursus is. I love debut full-length ‘Eternal Funeral Trance’ and have been longing for the follow-up ever since first clapping ears on the magnificence of that album a few years back (Note to label: vinyl edition long overdue!).

Still no sign of a sophomore LP but this EP will do just fine in the meantime. It would perhaps be unfair to refer to ‘Adaestuo’ as a stop-gap release because the material on here is of such a high quality. Sharing members with Nightbringer and Demoncy, Incursus sounds quite like the former, delivering some sublime occult Black Metal.

The unsettling, ambient, eight-minute ‘Adaestuo IV’, which sits alone on Side B, is especially enjoyable. Short but sweet is the order of the day then, both record-wise and review-wise. Which suits my lazy bones. Still need the next Incursus album to materialise sooner rather than later, though.

Evilometer: 555/666

NECROMASS – CALIX. UTERO. BABALON LP (Funeral Industries)

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Necromass - Calix. Utero. BabalonCalix. Utero. Babalon’ arrives a whopping 17 years after cult horde Necromass’ previous full-length, ‘Abyss Calls Life’ – but this is of little relevance or significance to me as I’d never heard of them before. I checked a couple of their songs out and was sufficiently impressed to justify purchasing the record. (In hindsight, I may have acted a little hastily…) The bottom line on this one is that it’s a decent LP but nothing exceptional.

Necromass perform an unspectacular strain of occult Black Metal, not unlike compatriots Mortuary Drape, I suppose. Unfortunately, the occult element is derived pretty much exclusively from the four (admittedly rather great) interludes and instrumentals scattered across the album, with little in the way of variation or true esoterica woven into the actual songs themselves.

And, without the adjoining pieces, the songs in question (literally) are generally run-of-the-mill and uninspiring. In fairness, though, viewed as a whole, this is a solid album. So, sitting on the fence for once, I wouldn’t necessarily advise you to buy this or not to buy it. Just depends on how much spare cash you have hanging around (which I would confidently guess is fuck all…).

Evilometer: 444/666

PROSANCTUS INFERI – NOCTAMBULOUS JAWS WITHIN SEMPITERNAL NIGHT LP (Nuclear War Now!)

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Prosanctus Inferni - Noctambulous Jaws Within Sempiternal NightI purchased ‘Noctambulous Jaws Within Sempiternal Night’ with a confidence bordering on arrogance. Having read some great things about Prosanctus Inferi online (how naïve of me!) and having fully digested the associated label blurb, I fully expected the album to blow me the fuck away. Alas, it doesn’t come close to achieving such an unlikely feat.

While this is certainly not the worst album you’ll ever hear – far from it, in fact – and it comes in a classy gatefold cover with sumptuous artwork and lyrics included, it definitely falls foul of my unreasonably high expectations. Musically, I find ‘Noctambulous Jaws Within Sempiternal Night’ to be bland, derivative and utterly aimless. While the LP is unquestionably heavier than a rhino’s balls, I just fail to see the merit of it.

I know music doesn’t have to be new to be interesting, but this is neither. You know you are in trouble when a 34-minute album seems to last for closer to an-hour-and-a-half… The kind of pounding, pummelling racket that’s been belted out by thousands of bands before, with varying degrees of success, the main thing this album serves to accomplish is in highlighting just how unique and awesome labelmates Antediluvian are.

The line that separates greatness from mediocrity is often a thin one. Finer than a thread, perhaps. Not in this case, however.

Evilometer: 222/666

GRAVE MIASMA – ODORI SEPULCRORUM 2LP (Sepulchral Voice Records)

Saturday, October 12th, 2013

Grave Miasma - Odori SepulcrorumBrits Grave Miasma are part of the new wave of Death Metal that is allegedly breathing new life into a jaded genre. Debut album ‘Odori Sepulcrorum’ is receiving rave reviews everywhere one looks and the band is being liberally mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Portal, (label mates) Necros Christos, Mitochondrion and Vasaeleth. (Other great modern, occult Death Metal bands that I’d like to chuck into the conversation are Antediluvian and Ævangelist.)

Personally, I’m finding ‘Odori Sepulcrorum’ to be hard work. I was 100% convinced that I’d love the album but for some reason it just isn’t sucking me in the way I expected it to. Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly intriguing and out there; murky, dense and ambitious (but with most of the magic seemingly hidden beneath muddy waves of impenetrable tedium).

The packaging is superb – vast triple gatefold sleeve with a fine A5 booklet included – and the outlandish hype surrounding Grave Miasma is almost as impressive. Perhaps it is as a direct result of my expectations having been too high, but, no matter how many times I listen to this record-and-a-half (yes, you’ve guessed … no music on Side D), I just can’t get excited by it. I’m not sure whether I should be disappointed with myself or with the band. Either way, this album bores me (and I dislike the sound, too).

Evilometer: 222/666

WOLVSERPENT – PERIGAEA ANTAHKARANA 2LP (Relapse Records)

Friday, October 11th, 2013

Wolvserpent - Perigaea AntahkaranaI’ve discovered that the so-called biggest shop in the world stocks vinyl releases from Relapse. This is valuable information as postage from Amazon is free and – in addition to lots of rubbish – Relapse does actually still unleash some excellent music, ‘Perigaea Antahkarana’, the second full-length from Wolvserpent being a case in point.

Pity the records that arrived to my house are fucking pink, though. I can’t think of anybody I know who would prefer pink records to black ones and it really annoys me to own pink vinyl, but there you go…

Wolvserpent first registered on my radar when they supported Wolves In The Throne Room (and stole the show) in Dublin a few years back. Their live ceremony comprised two lengthy rituals that seemed to go on forever (about an hour) and was truly mesmerising. While not quite as potent a force on record as in the flesh, they are nonetheless a formidable entity.

There’s about 20 minutes of superb cathartic, transcendental death / doom / drone on each side of these records (actual music on Side D makes for a refreshing change…). Cleansing and ritualistic like Neurosis, but ‘Perigaea Antahkarana’ sounds nothing like Neurosis; Wolvserpent have their own unique style (all about dynamic) which I really like.

Evilometer: 555/666

CHRISTICIDE – UPHEAVAL OF THE SOUL LP (Of Crawling Shadows)

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Christicide - Upheaval Of The SoulHere is proof that initial impressions are not always correct / reliable. My first thought regarding Christicide was ‘what a dumb name … they have to be shit’. Then I saw the cover artwork for this, their second full-length, and I again thought ‘they have to be shit’. But, having ignored my gut instinct, I can confirm that Christicide are most certainly not shit and that, to the contrary, ‘Upheaval Of The Soul’ is a really, really good Black Metal record.

With neither fanfare nor hype (of any description), this album arrives from seemingly nowhere … and is likely to also remain in obscurity for all eternity. Christicide will never be regarded as one of the leading lights of Black Metal but the French duo have delivered a 44-minute statement (six songs) of defiance that at times reminds me of the mighty Dødsengel (though obviously not quite as brilliant).

A substantial and super-looking 12×12 booklet is included too but, due to a combination of the small, feint red print against a black background and my gathering years / diminishing eyesight, I cannot read the fucker.

Evilometer: 555/666

TEMPLE NIGHTSIDE – CONDEMNATION LP (Nuclear Winter Records / Dark Descent Records)

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Temple Nightside - CondemnationConsidering that Temple Nightside mastermind IV is the self-same entity behind such stellar BlackMetalReviews-endorsed forces as Ill Omen and Perdition Oracle, it was no surprise to me whatsoever to discover immediately upon receipt that ‘Condemnation’ is a fucking killer debut full-length of twisted, distorted harrowing Antipodean Black / Death Metal laced with more than a hint of dark dread / ambience.

With a little help from their colleagues in Vassafor and Grave Upheaval, IV and his Temple Nightside acolyte Basilysk (drums) have crafted eight cavernous, underground offerings that straddle the lesser-travelled ground between lo-fi black death, occult doom and infernal hell itself. The truly ritualistic music is driven by an undeniably evil energy and this is one of those records that holds up brilliantly to repeated listens. In fact, it seems to magically improve each time I give it a spin.

To seal the deal, the final is enclosed within a gatefold sleeve with an inlay sheet, all graced with some nice, minimal black and red artwork. My only complaint (and there’s invariably one, I know…) is that there’s no hint given as to which side of the record is which (unless I haven’t spotted the clues). No need for riddles; a simple ‘A’ printed on Side A would suffice.

Regardless, ‘Condemnation’ is a monstrous conjuration that should appeal to fans of any of the above-mentioned bands or of quality Black Metal in general. Not quite like anything else you will have heard, yet imbued with a comforting familiarity, the album is reassuringly cold and nihilistic, almost like a drugged, slowed-down version of Portal meets Blut Aus Nord. Barbaric; transcendental; tribal; different. Treat yourself to this mystical vision of spectral squalor.

Evilometer: 666/666

ACHERONTAS – AMENTI 2LP (World Terror Committee)

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

Acherontas - AmentiPresented in a luxurious gatefold jacket and boasting a fuck-off booklet that’s almost the equivalent of a novel (astonishing attention to detail; think Nile), the double-vinyl edition of Acherontas’ fourth full-length album is a joy to behold. Certainly, ‘Amenti – Ψαλμοί Αίματος και Αστρικά Οράματα’ (to give it its full title) is getting an unreserved ten out of ten for looks!

Musically, Acherontas is an intriguing entity. Unmistakably eastern European in general hue, they deliver a very mystical and esoteric strain of Black Metal that is admittedly bland and inoffensive enough in parts but at the same time is elevated above the norm / mundane by some sublime atmospheric, ambient and ritualistic passages.

With these very clever touches, music that would otherwise be quite boring and tedious becomes exceptionally beautiful and captivating. A good trick!

Make no mistake, ‘Amenti – Ψαλμοί Αίματος και Αστρικά Οράματα’ is a damned fine album even if it does fall victim to the dreaded blank-Side-D syndrome which is plaguing 2LPs of late (and pissing me off no end – take a bow both Grave Upheaval and Grave Miasma).

Evilometer: 555/666

BEHEXEN – RITUALE SATANUM (Debemur Morti Productions)

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Behexen - Rituale SatanumDMP re-released ‘Rituale Satanum’ in digipak format a good few months back and, even though I really love Behexen’s work, the debut full-length was sadly conspicuous by its absence from my collection. Recorded as far back as 1999, this is easily as good as anything the band has put its name to during the intervening 14 years (which is saying something…) and is rightfully regarded as something of a Black Metal classic.

With a truly sinister sound, generous helpings of trademark Finnish malevolence, a suitably dark ambience, nightmarish vocals, buzzing strings and, true to form, granted a beautiful packaging makeover by the quality-driven French label (including tasteful booklet, printed lyrics etc.), this CD is a total no-brainer. Ideally, I’d have preferred a vinyl version but this will do just fine for now.

Evilometer: 555/666

GRAVE UPHEAVAL – UNTITLED 2LP (Nuclear War Now!)

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Grave Upheaval - UntitledGrave Upheaval play just the kind of Death Metal I love – primitive, cavernous, lo-fi, frightening – like a slower Portal or a spaced-out Antediluvian. However, it’s a real shame that the label saw fit to leave Side D of the standard edition of this album blank while rewarding those who purchased the Die Hard version with a ‘bonus track’. I find this practice mystifying.

I forked out €23 for this – plus an additional €9 for postage. A total investment of €32, yet I end up with an inferior product to those who are prepared to spend even more. No matter what way you look at it, punishing those who merely buy the regular edition of an album by giving them less music is wrong on every level. Ultimately, what I have is an inferior product, which cost me a lot of money.

I know how Die Hard releases work (and happen to think they are dumb anyway). But, whatever about bumping them up with flags, wooden boxes and stickers and t-shirts and booklets etc., the day that there is more actual music on the more-expensive version is a sad day indeed. For €32, I have a record-and-a-half of the double LP.

The music itself is exceptional but, alas, I can’t get past the grossly unfair ‘bonus track’ issue. What exactly does standard mean anyway – yardstick, average or just a kick in the teeth?

Evilometer:€£$/666