Monday, September 25, 2017 20:38

Archive for February, 2014

DROWNING THE LIGHT – DIABOLICAL WINTER SPELLS 10″ EP (Obscure Abhorrence Productions)

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Drowning The Light - Diabolical Winter SpellsAnother 10” from Drowning The Light and another really great listen. Recorded over four winters, ‘Diabolical Winter Spells’ contains five songs and clocks in at around 22 minutes (including the time it takes to flip the record over…). Obviously, being just a demo or an EP or whatever you want to call it, this record isn’t going to change your life. But it’s still worth having.

Anybody who enjoys high-quality raw, atmospheric Black Metal should enjoy this (i.e. everybody reading this??? If you don’t, seriously, fuck off!). If not sure whether or not you should part with a few quid, check out the songs on YouTube or something.

I can’t think of a single reason why I should utter any more on the matter (apart, perhaps, from the observation that the last song, ‘Now With Hearts Of Frost We Chant, To Ignite The Flame Of The Old’ is right up there with DTL’s best).

Evilometer: 555/666

LLUVIA – PREMONICION DE GUERRA LP (Fallen Empire Records)

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Lluvia - Premonicion De GuerraEpitomising the pioneering new breed of analogue-friendly, raw Black Metal that’s bringing the sub-subgenre in an exciting new direction, one-man band Lluvia crafts long and complex psalms with an abundance of mood and tempo changes. It’s a winning formula when done correctly and the Mexican comes up trumps on his debut full-length, ‘Premonicion De Guerra’.

Very much in the vein of Fell Voices or Ash Borer – but stamping his own unique twist on things –  sole member Lord Vast is an undisputed master of his chosen art form. One epic, swirling, sprawling anti-song is delivered on each side of the record (though strangely listed as eight individual tracks, they all flow into one another; 46 minutes in total). For me, Side I is one song and Side II is another…

Although there’s plenty of variety, the aggressive and more subtle passages join together seamlessly, resulting in a beautifully-flowing album. Even during the calmer parts, the harrowing sense of dread never dissipates, resulting in an offering that is both uplifting and disturbing at the same time. With a large gatefold cover, a small insert and a heavy slab of (marble-coloured) vinyl, this record looks and feels as fabulous as it sounds.

Verdict: a compelling consignment of raw, atmospheric Black Metal; definitely worthy of support.

Evilometer: 666/666

CIRRHUS – CIRRHUS LP (CW Productions)

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Cirrhus - CirrhusOn their self-titled debut full-length record, Cirrhus delivers 34 minutes of oppressive, tortured, raw Black Metal with distinct punk leanings. The music on this album is full of conviction, swirling and buzzing with tremendous intent, mostly at breakneck pace. Kind of like the bastard child of Bone Awl and Fell Voices, this is the latest fascinating BM band to come at us out of the good old USA.

Beneath the chaotic maelstrom, there’s a generous dollop of sinister melodies to be found, although ‘Cirrhus’ is a potent headfuck first and foremost. The record comes with two small inserts containing lyrics and band pics. All in all, this is an excellent, unconventional listen and a very good product to boot.

Evilometer: 666/666

XOTHIST – XOTHIST LP (Fallen Empire Records)

Friday, February 21st, 2014

Xothist - XothistXothist’s excellent (‘A Binding’) contribution to the fantastic Svn Okklt double cassette more than whet my appetite for this thoroughly unorthodox Colorado one-man entity. When the label behind that treat, Fallen Empire, announced plans to reissue this self-titled debut demo on vinyl format, I was always going to check it out. It was just a matter really of where and when I was going to source the record…

To cut a very long story short, I now have possession of four LPs from this impressive, fledgling US label and ‘Xothist’ was the first one to take its place on my deck of doom. Originally released on painfully-limited cassette in 2011, the two lengthy tracks (clocking precisely 20:48 apiece) have been remastered especially for this black wax edition. But don’t be expecting some shiny, polished production. Oh no, this is still very much of the underground.

Analogue to the core, ‘Xothist’ comprises some of the most interesting music to have crossed my ears in quite a long time. In an era of so much same-sounding drivel, these songs truly stand out from the pack, boasting a strong identity of their own.

Of course, a healthy dose of Black Metal has been injected into the hybrid, but this is supplemented by a smorgasbord of ambient and electronic sounds, which adds a delightful dose of dynamic to proceedings. The Black Metal quotient can be very chaotic, harsh and wobbly at times (placing great stress on my speakers, truth to tell) and the more restrained moments act as the perfect counterpoint to this monstrous maelstrom.

But somehow the music flows seamlessly throughout and is always menacing, threatening, foreboding and full of dread. Exceptional stuff; and not just because it is so unusual, so unique and so refreshing.

Evilometer: 666/666

BEHEMOTH – THE SATANIST (Nuclear Blast Records)

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Behemoth - The SatanistDecided to check this out as the general consensus (whatever that is) appears to be that ‘The Satanist’ represents a return to form or something. Personally, I’ve found that everything Behemoth have recorded since the magnificent ‘Satanica’ (15 years ago!) has been superfluous and I have to say the over-hyped Poles’ tenth full-length is equally irrelevant.

Not sure what everybody is fawning about. Here we have nine thoroughly boring, throwaway tracks of middle-of-the-road, uninspired, run-of-the-mill, painfully-melodic, polished-to-all-fuck, major-label Death Metal that is completely benign and pointless. Stupidly, I had got my hopes up but this is really, really terrible stuff. Sugary, syrupy metal with no punch, no menace, no edge; but plenty of horrendous solos.

Generally, people are so easily pleased and so fucking dumb. I mean, what kind of idiots enjoy this? Embarrassing.

Evilometer: 000/666

SATANIZE – BLACK ROTTEN WITCHCRAFT LP (Altare Productions)

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Satanize - Black Rotten WitchcraftSatanize from Portugal is all about unrefined, raw, bestial Black Metal  … very much in the tradition of Nuclear War Now! bands, perhaps. This is their third full-length and it has been released on clear vinyl, limited to 200 units. If you are at all familiar with the group, then you already know exactly what you are going to get here…

By no means a departure from ‘Demonic Conquest In Jerusalem’ or ‘Holy Destruction Ritual’ (perhaps more restrained in the most subtle of manners), ‘Black Rotten Witchcraft’ is essentially more of the same from the Satanic ones – pummelling, pounding, irreverent, chaotic Black Metal in honour of all things dark and evil and nasty and corrupt and all that stuff. Depraved and sordid, this is about as unsophisticated an album as you could possibly hope to hear.

Not brilliant, by any means, but if you want to stick on a record while you thrash the place, then this would be ideal. Great for when you are in a bad mood; perfect for those times when you just want to show two fingers to the world (i.e. every day?). And to yourself. Looks really good, as well, and all the lyrics are included on a printed inlay.

Evilometer: 444/666

PAYMON – REGNO OCCULTO (Schattenkult Produktionen)

Monday, February 17th, 2014

Paymon - Regno OccultoI realise it is human nature to take every review with a pinch of salt (brilliantamazing…  awesomeesotericoccultblah blah blah)  but fuck me I have to say ‘Regno Occulto’ truly is a fantastic piece of work. The product of sole creator Lord Skarn, who hails from the historic Piedmont region of Italy, this 48-minute opus is without doubt one of the most impressive tapes to have graced my ears in recent years.

The composer / executor’s understanding of dynamism is all too apparent and his uncanny ability to convey these ideas stands out, with numerous devilish instrumentals providing a perfect supplement to some superb underground Black Metal.

While the BM quotient on its own might have come across as being fairly run-of-the-mill(-ish) had Lord Skarm not gone the extra mile along the left hand path, it is Paymon’s knack for ushering an otherworldly ambience and an almost cosmic atmosphere to the altar that stands out first and foremost.

Generally, I always expect a certain level of consistency and quality from Schattenkult anyway – but nothing could have prepared me for how good this cassette is. I almost feel ashamed of myself for just paying €3. The magnificent eleven-minute closer ‘Woe To You’ is worth double that on its own!

Evilometer: 666/666

DROWNING THE LIGHT – LOST KINGDOMS OF A DARK AGE 10″ EP (Obscure Abhorrence Productions)

Saturday, February 15th, 2014

Drowning The Light - Lost Kingdoms Of A Dark AgeThis 10” EP surfaced a couple of months back and contains four tracks (three songs plus an instrumental intro) with a total running time of 21 minutes. I think it only set me back €9, so no complaints on that front. ‘Lost Kingdoms Of A Dark Age’ captures Drowning The Light at their brilliant best and will certainly entertain you and leave you yearning for more.

I find that all of DTL’s releases are of a consistently high standard and can’t remember – off the top of my head – having been disappointed by any of their previous work. Even though EPs are more appetisers than main courses and are therefore hardly essential, I would still recommend this record to anybody who likes the band or who appreciates quality Black Metal in general.

There you have it: short and sweet.

Evilometer: 555/666

BLUT AUS NORD – WHAT ONCE WAS … LIBER III EP (Debemur Morti Productions)

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Blut Aus Nord - What Once Was​.​.​. Liber IIII wasn’t going to bother my buttocks writing a review of this 45rpm MLP as the inherent quality of Blut Aus Nord’s releases goes without saying at this stage. A given. I mean, I doubt if there is anyone reading this who has yet to discover the irresistible force of this ground-breaking French act.

However, upon calm reflection and having given ‘What Once Was​.​.​. Liber III’ more than its fair share of spins on the deck of doom, I decided I should at least acknowledge its existence with a brief observation.

As ever with Debemur Morti, the artwork, presentation and attention to detail are second to none and the heavy duty gatefold cover is a joy to (be)hold. The music itself is prime Blut Aus Nord; twisting and swirling, semi-industrial-ish, concrete-scraping, urban Black Metal terror with an ominous, eerie vibe and just the right mix of melody and menace. Like Godflesh on LSD…

As the disconcerting closing strains of the portentous sixth and final track, ‘VI’, wash over your ears, you will no doubt concur that here resides yet another essential emission from the DMP / BAN partnership in grime.

Evilometer: 666/666

CULTES DES GHOULES – HÄXAN 2LP (Of Crawling Shadows)

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Cultes Des Ghoules - HäxanI’m doing this a lot lately – buying vinyl reissues of older albums that I already own on CD. Taake, Leviathan, Vasaeleth, this… I think it might prove either that I am slightly mad or that I am complete fucking insane. Either way, ‘Häxan’ is Cultes Des Ghoules’ debut full-length from 2008 and is, in my opinion, superior to their 2013 follow-up ‘Henbane’.

This older offering is more understated and less melodramatic than ‘Henbane’ and the five songs (55 minutes…) deliver a near-perfect strain of occult Black Metal with arcane witchcraft-ian themes and vibes. I thought the Poles slightly lost the run of themselves on the sophomore, to be honest, and that their music was more enjoyable when they restricted the cheese factor to zero.

Comes with a lovely eight-page A5 booklet including lyrics and appropriate artwork – but only one song on the second record and nothing at all on Side D (the bane of my life (I know: I am like a broken record)).

Evilometer: 555/666

ARIZMENDA – WITHOUT CIRCUMFERENCE NOR CENTER (Crepúsculo Negro)

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Arizmenda - Without Circumference Nor CenterOne would be forgiven for suspecting that I have a vendetta against this label – but I would contend to the contrary that they have a vendetta against me. And you. I purchased a third press of ‘Without Circumference Nor Center’ on tape about 18 months ago (I’m guessing here, lost track of that whole excruciating saga…) and the order took about six months to arrive (minimum). I posted a piece at the time strongly criticising Crepúsculo Negro’s customer service, but deleted that once the package arrived.

Disgusted by the ordeal, I never really listened to the tapes properly until now. Well, as it transpires, I will never listen to these tapes properly as the sound quality is an utter abomination. An insult. Essentially, what I have here is a fucked-up tape with a truly shitty sound so, despite being out of pocket, I still don’t actually know whether Arizmenda are any good or not. Really disappointing. Crepúsculo Negro could take a leaf out of Schattenkult Produktionen’s book.

(Also bought ‘Within The Vacuum Of Infinity…’ third press and, of course, the sound of it is shit too.)

Evilometer: 000/666

VASAELETH – CRYPT BORN & TETHERED TO RUIN LP (20 Buck Spin)

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Vasaeleth - Crypt Born & Tethered To RuinVasaeleth’s debut full-length was originally released on CD by Profound Lore in 2010, with Blood Harvest handling the initial vinyl edition. Late last year, 20 Buck Spin re-issued the album on black wax and I decided three years belatedly that this record was too good to pass up on. I’d bought it already on CD, you see, but had reservations about the practically of spending an additional €16 on the analogue version of an album that’s only 30 minutes long…

At the end of the day, this comes down to a quality versus quantity issue, with the quality winning out hands down. Vasaeleth churns out amazing organic, lo-fi, murky, underground Death Metal that’s sort of indecipherable, intangible and tailor-made for fans of Antediluvian, Grave Upheaval and the likes. To be fair, ‘Crypt Born & Tethered To Ruin’ is a fantastic masterpiece of extremity and is therefore priceless.

One of those albums where the lyrics are included but it’s almost impossible to read along because the vocals are so deep and subterranean… My advice? Buy this and ignore the new 18-minute, 12” EP ‘All Uproarious Darkness’, which retails (here in Europe at least) at the same price as a full-length LP. That’s a rip-off in any language, no matter how great Vasaeleth are…

Evilometer: 666/666

HERMÓÐR – VINTER (Schattenkult Produktionen)

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Hermóðr - VinterSchattenkult Produktionen has few – if any – peers when it comes to consistently releasing quality Black Metal tapes. This label keeps churning out amazing analogue music that can be bought for a mere pittance and Hermóðr joins the growing legion of underground acts brought to my attention by Michael and his impressive imprint.

The vision and execution of one tortured soul, ‘Vinter’ provides us with six cuts of melancholic Black Metal spread out over 49 sanity-shredding minutes. Harrowing, bleak, despondent and thoroughly abject, this is clearly not for the faint-hearted. At times (particularly during ‘Månen & Skogen’ – the first tune on Side B), I found that the forlorn sense of misery was almost too much to bear and that the dejection was possible being laid on too thickly … but then I realised that was just my life.

By and large, this is a very commendable cassette. Comes as a pro-tape and the sound quality is very good indeed. Considering that Hermóðr’s dreary debut full-length will set you back just €3, it is ridiculously easy to recommend.

Evilometer: 666/666

ÆVANGELIST – OMEN EX SIMULACRA 2LP (Debemur Morti Productions)

Saturday, February 8th, 2014

Ævangelist – Omen Ex SimulacraOn ‘Omen Ex Simulacra’, Ævangelist delivers a tsunami of nightmarish, otherworldly Death Metal that has to be experienced to be believed. Sinister, malevolent and downright deviant, this is one of the most twisted full-lengths to take up residency in my collection – a venomous torrent of sonic rage that will appeal to anyone who appreciates bands like Portal, Vasaeleth, Antediluvian, Welter In Thy Blood or Blut Aus Nord.

This offering seethes incessantly for approximately 80 minutes, with the untitled bonus track on the vinyl edition lending it true double-album status. The inclusion of lots of nasty noise elements ensures that Ævangelist’s second album is about as unsettling and uncomfortably a journey as you could wish for. All in all, this is a monumental piece of dark art.

Evilometer: 666/666

BARAD DÛR – DUNKELHEIT LP (Darker Than Black)

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Barad Dûr - DunkelheitI never got the whole Tolkien thing and never will. I think it’s bullshit. Furthermore, I think music inspired by him is even more bullshit. Before buying this, I hadn’t realised that Barad Dûr is the name of a tower in Lord Of The Rings and that, therefore, this is probably Tolkien-inspired Black Metal. Had I known, I wouldn’t have invested.

As it turns out, ‘Dunkelheit’ is not a Summoning-like pukefest but a reasonably enjoyable – if very short – seven-track album of ambient Black Metal that bears a lot of similarities to this. Decent enough considering…

Evilometer: 444/666