Wednesday, November 22, 2017 03:20

Archive for April, 2014

ENTHRONED – SOVEREIGNS LP (Agonia Records)

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Enthroned - SovereignsHaving undergone a dizzying amount of line-up changes and personal setbacks, Enthroned should probably no longer be relevant. That’s usually how it works…  In fairness, nobody could have faulted mainman Nornagest for throwing in the towel ages ago. Instead, some twenty (!) years down the line, Enthroned is back with yet another new cast and a tenth full-length album.

For my money, ‘Sovereigns’ also happens to be Enthroned’s best record to date bar none.

Now sharing a member with Nightbringer (not a bad way to keep things relevant), the Belgian blitzkrieg blasts through eight new outlandish offerings plus an intro in just over 40 minutes. Surprisingly, this album manages to top the amazing ‘Obsidium’ from two years ago and the vinyl version comes in a glorious gatefold jacket with 12×12 inlay.

Not many bands can manage to pull off that all-too-elusive, truly angry and evil sound as effectively and convincingly as Enthroned. Some nice dynamics and variation add to the enjoyment quotient on a stunning release.

Evilometer: 666/666

THRONE OF KATARSIS – VED GRAVEN LP (Blut & Eisen Productions)

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Throne Of Katarsis - Ved GravenThrone of Katarsis is one of the truly great Black Metal bands. Everything about their music is fantastic, from the unsettling cold atmosphere and chilling dynamics to the genuinely demonic ferocity, eerie imagery and accomplished execution. The Norwegians have consistently produced some of the most monumental raw, atmospheric Black Metal of the last seven years and everything they touch turns to black gold.

Ved Graven is as close to a perfect Black Metal record as you could wish to get. Skilfully balancing sheer aggression with glorious, uplifting majesty, Throne of Katarsis’ third full-length – originally released on CD by a cunt of a label three years ago and now committed to vinyl for the first time – is a soaring work of art that belongs in every collection.

Evilometer: 666/666

TWILIGHT – III: BENEATH TRIDENT’S TOMB LP (Century Media)

Friday, April 25th, 2014

Twilight III Beneath Trident's TombWhen Twilight released their eponymous debut album nine years ago, the line-up was about as close to a Black Metal enthusiast’s wet dream as you are likely to get: Malefic from Xasthur; Wrest of Leviathan; Draugar mastermind Hildof; Azentrius of Nachmystium infamy; and N Imperial from Krieg. Fucking unbelievable! Alas, while ‘Twilight’ was a reasonable record, the composite didn’t come near to equalling the sum of its individual parts. At the time, that was a massive disappointment (and still is).

Only two members of that original combo remain. On ‘III: Beneath Trident’s Tomb’, Wrest and Imperial are joined by two guys I know fuck all about – keyboardist Sanford Parker (Minsk, anyone?) and 55-year-old Thurston Moore from bloody Sonic Youth. What the fuck! Ironically, with such a bizarre line-up … one that clearly should never work … this for me is the stellar album that Twilight failed to produce in 2005.

I love everything about this record, particularly the least Black Metal track of the six, closer ‘Below Light’. I almost hate to admit it but III: Beneath Trident’s Tombis thoroughly superb stuff  – and on a bigger label. Well I’ll be damned and fuck me purple up the ass with a fallen tree trunk.

Evilometer: 666/666

KAMPFAR – DJEVELMAKT 2LP (Back On Black)

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Kampfar - DjevelmaktKampfar’s fourth full-length in eight years – and sixth in all – features eight songs which clock in at forty-seven-and-a-half minutes. Generally, I find Pagan Black Metal to be pretty lame, but ‘Djevelmakt’ is certainly the exception to that rule. While I’m not sure how it compares to Kampfar’s other output (I purchased ‘Fra Underverdenen’ many years ago but nothing else until now), this is surprisingly enjoyable stuff.

All in all, what we have here is a solid Black Metal album with a lot of melody, great performances and a massive production. Even though the songs are average in length, ‘Djevelmakt’ has an epic feel to it. And the double LP edition is spectacular; two 180g records contained within a glorious gatefold jacket with magical artwork (but no lyrics).

Evilometer: 555/666

GRAUSAMKEIT – CHRISTENSCHMÄHUNG LP (Darker Than Black / Final Agony Records)

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Grausamkeit  - ChristenschmähungOn so many levels, ‘Christenschmähung’ is one of the worst records I’ve ever bought. The music on this album is unbelievably sloppy. Amateurism seeps from every note. The playing is second rate at best; the vocals are terrible (it sounds like the singer is too close to the microphone – if indeed it is a microphone); the production is ropey; the constant hiss confirms that no money went to waste on that fateful day this was recorded 14 years ago.

It all sounds like it was thrown together in a couple of hours using the worst equipment and recording techniques (un)known to man, making for one of the most authentically underground Black Metal records you are likely to hear. In spite of their limitations – in fact, because of them – Grausamkeit come highly recommended.

Certainly not for everyone, ‘Christenschmähung’ (which is Grausamkeit’s only full-length) can be a challenging and frustrating listen as well as an invigorating one. Dreadful and brilliant at the same time, this LP possesses the true spirit of Black Metal the way it was supposed to be.

Evilometer: 666/666

CHAOS INVOCATION – BLACK MIRROR HOURS 2LP (World Terror Committee)

Sunday, April 20th, 2014

Chaos Invocation - Black Mirror HoursThere’s almost 68 minutes of Satanic Black Metal on ‘Black Mirror Hours’, so Chaos Invocation’s sophomore full-length is ideal for the double-vinyl format. Not sure, therefore, why the eleven songs are squeezed onto three sides of the record instead of using up the fourth. I guess it’s one of those inexplicable imponderables in life that are of little real consequence but bug the hell out of me for no rightful reason.

In Bloodline With The Snake’ was an excellent debut – was that really five years ago? – and the follow-up is also an impressive piece of work. While I don’t believe this is quite as great as Chaos Invocation’s previous album (it’s definitely marred rather than enhanced by the presence of clean vocals and melodic parts), ‘Black Mirror Hours’ is nonetheless a commendable offering of underground Black Metal that should appeal to fans of Dødsengel, for example.

This 2LP edition features two 180g records and comes in a gatefold sleeve complete with a lovely 28-page A5 booklet. Fabulous presentation; better-than-average album.

Evilometer: 444/666

ABYSSAL – NOVIT ENIM DOMINUS QUI SUNT EIUS 2LP (Iron Bonehead Productions)

Saturday, April 19th, 2014

Abyssal - Novit Enim Dominus Qui Sunt EiusIn the same vein as modern-day greats Antediluvian and Portal, Abyssal from the UK is another band that thoroughly deserves your attention. ‘Novit Enim Dominus Qui Sunt Eius’ from 2013 is their second full-length and it has just recently been granted a long-overdue vinyl incarnation by the ever-dependable Iron Bonehead.

The album comprises an hour’s worth of disturbing, twisted and sinister dark doomy death with a hint of black. Controlled chaos within a menacing maelstrom is a thing of sheer beauty and it’s even better when engraved onto a magnificent double vinyl feast replete with heavy duty gatefold sleeve (and cardboard inlay featuring lyrics).

Aurally and visually, ‘Novit Enim Dominus Qui Sunt Eius’ is a truly astonishing offering that I cannot recommend strongly or often enough. Just make sure you afford yourself plenty of free time to listen to it over and over and over again. Free time, now wouldn’t that be something?…

Evilometer: 666/666

DØDSENGEL / HETROERTZEN – CAPAX INFINITI LP (Lamech Records / Barghest)

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Dødsengel Hetroertzen - Capax InfinitiIt’s not just the music on this split LP that’s phenomenal. Aesthetically, the vinyl edition of ‘Capax Infinity’ is truly spectacular. The sublime front cover artwork looks amazing in the 12”x12” dimensions that grace all full-length records, while the lyrics of all four songs are contained alongside some sumptuous and intriguing drawings on the delightful inner sleeve.

See all those superlatives (or grown-up adjectives) I’ve just used? Phenomenal, spectacular, sublime, amazing, sumptuous and delightful? Those also apply to the musical contributions of Dødsengel and Hetroertzen – the finest Norwegian and Chilean (s)wines – to this essential release.

For undeniably majestic, magnificent, monumental obscure and eclectic underground Black Metal, look no further.

Acquire or expire.

Evilometer: 666/666

CAULDRON BLACK RAM – STALAGMIRE (20 Buck Spin)

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Cauldron Black Ram – StalagmireEven though ‘Stalagmire’ isn’t necessarily bad all the way through, there is more than enough terribleness included to render the album something of an aural nightmare. Those twiddly Iron Maiden-y guitar parts in the opening gambit ‘Fork Through Pitch’, for example, make me want to get sick. I cannot understand why a co-called Black / Death Metal unit would want to (re)create retro passages like that.

At the end of the day (and I know this seems like a major contradiction), I cannot tolerate pure Heavy Metal or Thrash Metal (!), so when there is even the slightest leaning or nod towards these obsolete shitfests, I avert my ears.

While there is no doubt that Cauldron Black Ram have the capacity to conjure a proper, relevant, punch-packing album without the cheddar factor, for now, the Aussies are choosing not to do so for one reason or another. All things considered, this release sounds fairly ridiculous.

Evilometer: 000/666

DOMAINS – SINISTER CEREMONIES (The Sinister Flame)

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Domains - Sinister CeremoniesSpanish band Domains conjures hereon ten tracks of cavernous old school Death Metal that should appeal greatly to fans of celebrated European acts like Pestilence and Asphyx in particular. As well as being uncompromisingly true to the genre it celebrates with gusto, ‘Sinister Ceremonies’ is also very melodic and easy on the palette. To my ears, this is perhaps what Behemoth might sound like if Behemoth weren’t a total fucking joke these days.

I’d prefer if the attention-seeking solos weren’t included but, hey, maybe my thinking isn’t in line with the true spirit of ancient Death Metal performed the way it was originally intended to be? Either way, this is a very accomplished and impressive debut full-length from a collective that has no doubt already amassed something of a cult following. Solos apart, it is hard to have any real issues with the artists or the art…

The CD includes an eight-page booklet replete with lyrics and, all things considered, this is a really cool underground Death Metal offering (even if it is excessively melodic). (I know, I am one moaning motherfucker.)

Evilometer: 444/666

PACT – THE INFERNAL HIERARCHIES, PENETRATING THE THRESHOLD OF NIGHT (Moribund Records)

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Pact - The Infernal Hierarchies, Penetrating the Threshold of NightPact’s second full-length, ‘The Infernal Hierarchies, Penetrating The Threshold Of Night’, is a concisely executed slab of Black Metal in the vein of Scandinavian juggernauts like Gorgoroth or Behexen. It’s superbly crafted, immaculately performed and boasts a crystal clear production that allows all the music to rip through the speakers.

On one hand, this is a flawless offering of powerful high-speed Black Metal. But, on the other hand, it’s really, really boring. By-the-numbers, uninspiring pseudo-malevolence that – for all of its apparent qualities – is rendered utterly impotent by the fact that ultimately the album serves up nothing remotely interesting.

Alas, a real snoozefest from start to finish.

Evilometer: 111/666