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Archive for January, 2015

DEATHSPELL OMEGA – MANIFESTATIONS 2002 LP (End All Life Productions)

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Deathspell Omega - Manifestations 2002Recently, End All Life reissued all four of Deathspell Omega’s pre-Mikko LPs – full-lengths proper ‘Infernal Battles’ and ‘Inquisitors Of Satan’ along with the ‘Manifestations 2000-2001’ and ‘Manifestations 2002’ compilations (both of which were only actually released in 2008, some six years after the incumbent vocalist had replaced the disillusioned Shaxul).

As I had missed these albums first time around, here was a perfect opportunity to play catch-up. I swooped for all four, wallet open wider than a whore’s snatch. On these recordings, we of course are exposed to a completely different Deathspell Omega than the innovation, orthodox force that would materialise on the ground-breaking ‘Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice’, but the old, unrefined incarnation is not without its merits.

The downside is that the label cut some corners (using the same inner sleeve on all four records, for example; no lyrics included; original artwork omitted from ‘Infernal Battles’ and ‘Inquisitors Of Satan’); the upside is that, by doing things in such a no-frills, no-fuss fashion, they kept the price down and allowed collectors to grab these historic items for just €60. It’s a good deal and, for me, this record is the pick of the bunch.

Evilometer: 555/666

SHORES OF LADON – EINDRINGLING LP (Sol Records)

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

Shores Of Ladon - EindringlingIf you want to hear a new Black Metal band that will bore you to within a trip to the local hardware store of your life, then check out Shores Of Ladon. ‘Eindringling’ completely lacks identity and brings nothing worthwhile to the (turn)table. It is bland, derivative, uninspired, underwhelming and ultimately utterly pointless.

There’s more wishy-washy, melodic water-treading on here than I can bear to recount, so let’s just say this record doesn’t hit the spot. A massive disappointment.

Evilometer: 000/666

SKÁPHE – SKÁPHE (Fallen Empire Records)

Friday, January 16th, 2015

Skáphe - SkápheSkáphe’s eponymous debut full-length comprises four great compositions of ambient but raw and scorching Black Metal, clocking in at 35 minutes, spread across two sides of a pro cassette. While this is no doubt a fantastic collection of underground Black Metal, the tape format simply doesn’t do it justice.

When a vinyl edition appears, that will really be worth purchasing. I have no enthusiasm for talking about tapes any more.

Evilometer: 555/666

HETROERTZEN – AIN SOPH AUR 2LP (Lamech Records / Terratur Possessions)

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

Hetroertzen - Ain Soph AurThe double-vinyl edition of Hetroertzen’s expansive fifth full-length is massive in every way. Visually stunning, the records are contained within a sumptuous gatefold jacket that essentially doubles up as a hardback book. You see, a beautiful booklet is stapled inside with some great artwork, lyrics and insight from the band included.

Musically, ‘Ain Soph Aur’ is also huge. Big, brash and bold occult Black Metal, the album runs for over an hour and is blessed with magnificent musicianship and excellent compositions, all brought sharply into the foreground by a clean production job. Continuing on from the stellar collaboration that was ‘Capax Infiniti’, Kark from Dødsengel provides the voice on ‘Endless Light’.

The second record of the pair is particularly strong, especially the two eight-minute-plus hymns ‘The Luminous One’ and ‘Piercing The Veil’ that close Sides C and D, and overall it is impossible not to admire the dedication and discipline that has gone into creating an album (and product) of this scope.

And remember, this has been spawned from within the Black Metal underground. I wonder do mainstream artists or labels ever produce records or releases that look, feel and sound as impressive / professional as this one…

Considering what has been achieved here, it is arguably churlish of me to state that – from a personal perspective – a  large quota of overly-theatrical vocals mar what would otherwise be a near-perfect album. They’re not clean vocals, per se (I’m giving Hetroertzen the benefit of the doubt and sparing them the swinging axe…), but they are unreasonably operatic, outlandish and sung. And annoying.

Evilometer: 555/666

DODSFERD – A BREED OF PARASITES LP (Funeral Industries)

Monday, January 12th, 2015

Dodsferd - A Breed Of ParasitesA Breed Of Parasites’ is my favourites Dodsferd album, even though it is exceptionally fleeting for a full-length, clocking in at barely past the half-hour mark. As nine minutes of that are taken up by a (brilliant) cover of Judas Iscariot’s ‘Eternal Bliss… Eternal Death’, only 23 minutes of original material are offered (and a couple of minutes of this is just a glorified hum at the end!).

Despite the flagrant short-changing, I was nonetheless pleased when Funeral Industries announced with little fuss or fanfare that there would be a vinyl edition and duly handed over the cash.

The record is housed well in a nice gatefold jacket and the music on board is superb. There’s lots of variation; an abundance of anguish but also some nice melodies and soaring uplifting parts. Mostly slow- to mid-paced.

All in all, this is a fantastic acquisition; just a pity the Greek grouches’ muse sold them short when they were composing / preparing a so-called full-length that is in actual fact shorter than some MLPs. I mean, a few of their previous albums were approximately twice as long as this one. ‘A Breed Of Parasites’ is still wonderful, though.

Evilometer: 555/666

VORDE – VORDE LP (Fallen Empire Records / Psychic Violence)

Friday, January 9th, 2015

Vorde - VordeVorde is an interesting new proposition from Brooklyn, emitting a fairly unique-sounding strain of cosmic Black Metal that is hard to pin down. At a push, I would perhaps describe the debut album, ‘Vorde’, as a convergence of classic-era Mayhem and the more modern-sounding Negative Plane.

It’s very difficult (for me, at least) to depict or portray this album with any degree of accuracy and equally difficult to reach a definite verdict on it. I’ve listened to it tons of times and have yet to decide whether it’s great, good or average. At least I’m getting value for money. But I have to reach some sort of verdict and move along…

Ultimately, I really dig some parts and I’m not so keen on other passages – but, all in all, this is well above average and worthy of support. Solid Black Metal record; not-so solid review.

Evilometer: 444/666

VOLAHN – AQ’AB’AL 2LP (Iron Bonehead Productions)

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

Volahn - Aq'ab'alVolahn’s second full-length, ‘Aq’ab’al’, is a truly mesmerising work from start to finish, an intensely personal statement from one Eduardo Ramírez, the sole visionary and mastermind behind this unique act and also the leading figure in the legendary Black Twilight Circle cult.

Full of cultural and historical significance to the creator, the music on here pays tribute to the ancient dynasties of Volahn’s ancestry with almost an hour of incredible, genuinely esoteric, original and occult Black Metal. Soaring and majestic at times, then crazed and entranced, this LP is utterly remarkable on so many levels.

The focussed vision of Volahn is evident in every detail of this glorious vinyl package, from the magnificent music itself through to the amazing artwork adorning the gatefold jacket as well as the choice of vinyl colour (there will be no black vinyl edition of ‘Aq’ab’al’, at Eduardo’s request, I have been reliably informed).

A poster and booklet with additional drawings and lyrics (written in Spanish; English translations thrown in as a bonus) is also included to complement and complete one of the great releases of our time.

In many ways, this review is pointless as the vast majority of people who know of Volahn will already have made their minds up to purchase the album. Not really the kind of music you buy in error; not one you could regret owning either.

Evilometer: 666/666

SORTILEGIA – ARCANE DEATH RITUAL 2LP (Ván Records)

Monday, January 5th, 2015

Sortilegia - Arcane Death RitualBereft of all sense of spirit and soul, the modern consumer wants ten million songs crammed onto a nanostick the size of an ant’s cock. The double-vinyl edition of Sortilegia’s debut full-length represents the very antithesis of such mass consumption and rampant, meaningless consumerism.

Here, we have two huge slabs of black wax; a heavy-as-fuck gatefold jacket; a pair of weighty inner sleeves; and a poster that measures four foot square. Damn, there’s even a spare Side D with nothing on it…

Where would a modern fuckface store such a monstrosity? The fact that ‘Arcane Death Ritual’ also happens to contain some 50 minutes or so of mesmerising, analogue, underground Black Metal art (long and mystical obscure odes) seals the deal.

A stunner.

Evilometer: 666/666

ENCOFFINATION – III: HEAR ME, O’ DEATH (SING THOU WRETCHED CHOIRS) 2LP (Selfmadegod Records)

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

Encoffination - III - Hear Me, O’ DeathThe third full-length from Encoffination is – as one would expect – crushing, oppressive, desolate and harrowing beyond almost all tolerance. In the paradoxical world of extreme entertainment, these are of course values to be welcomed.

A veritable litany of positive-negative virtues align to make this a truly unsettling listening experience. Traumatic, tortuous Death Metal played at Funeral Doom pace, ‘III: Hear Me, O’ Death (Sing Thou Wretched Choirs)’ is a superb acquisition (especially in this spectacular double-vinyl format), even if it isn’t Encoffination’s best work.

Evilometer: 555/666