Monday, April 24, 2017 03:34

Archive for October, 2016

INQUISITION – BLOODSHED ACROSS THE EMPYREAN ALTAR BEYOND THE CELESTIAL ZENITH 2LP (Season Of Mist)

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

inquisition-bloodshed-across-the-empyrean-altar-beyond-the-celestial-zenithInquisition strikes again with a seventh full-length and ‘Bloodshed Across The Empyrean Altar Beyond The Celestial Zenith’ is another solid release as well as a serious fucking mouthful. While there is definitely a law of diminishing returns evident in the band’s canon – and the charm of earlier releases (including those magnificent toad croaks) is conspicuously absent on the most-recent output – I still thoroughly enjoy listening to Inquisition.

Even though I prefer the first four albums to the more polished and sterilised material that has emerged since the duo (deservedly, I suppose) migrated onto bigger labels (seemingly more intent on wringing every last drop of cash out of listeners’ pockets with ultra-limited editions and exorbitant prices than allowing bands to display their true underground leanings), this is still well worth checking out.

This standard vinyl edition comprises two records in a gatefold jacket, with printed inner sleeves including cosmic-chaotic lyrics; almost an hour of music; something of a slow burner – the album really gathers a head of steam as it progresses. Big production and a mainstream sound that for me flies in the face of what Black Metal is all about.

Inquisition: not as awesome as they used to be but still better than most.

Evilometer: 666/666

CALEDONIAN DARKNESS PART II (The Classic Grand, Glasgow – October 21/22, 2016)

Monday, October 24th, 2016

pseudogodSo the greatest show on earth was brought to Scotland over the weekend and what an entertaining couple of days it turned out to be! Having Svartidauði and Dead Congregation pulled from the bill at the eleventh hour (almost literally) made for a dramatic but most unsatisfactory denouement (more about that later) but failed to take the gloss off a truly phenomenal experience.

I arrived in Glasgow on Friday seven hours before check-in time at my hotel so got some breakfast and then shit it back out again in a matter of seconds. What a stroke of luck when we were allowed to check in four hours before the allotted time… Alas, the good fortune would not last…

First up on the Friday evening were the hooded men of London, Qrixkuor, who delivered a stunning performance. Great stage presence and incredible tunes. I found myself wondering was the microphone switched on, so low were the vocals, but this mattered little to me either way.

Barshasketh took to the stage next and, even though I’m not a massive fan of their last album, they gave it everything and produced a commendable display. The bass player looked really pleased to be there.

It was my second time to see Slidhr inside six weeks or so and this was one of the bands I was most looking forward to. Backed by his friends from Sinmara, Jo outdid himself with an intense and commanding set – powerful vocals, masterful execution of songs that come into their own in the live environment, and even an unexpected ‘Thank you’ at the end. Immense stuff from a rare talent.

Sinmara themselves weren’t half bad either! These guys look astounding on stage and they had the audience in the palms of their hands with a hypnotic 45-minute set.

Pseudogod was the surprise of the weekend. A band I was completely unfamiliar with prior to the gig, they tore The Classic Grand a new arsehole.

I thought Urfaust were rubbish and left before Vemod came on stage because I was exhausted and my back was sore.

The following day promised to be the best of my life – five extraordinary bands playing back-to back! I couldn’t wait. Decided to give Ifrinn and Devouring Star a miss to conserve energy for the five-band salvo of a lifetime but things were running behind time again so I arrived in time for Devouring Star, who were good.

Then on to the real magic…

Darvaza was nothing short of phenomenal. Stalking the crowd like a man possessed, Wraath is the most demented frontman I’ve witnessed. I was half expecting him to either pull out a gun and open fire, kick somebody in the face or just stab himself on stage. Completely unhinged, he muttered repeatedly to himself off-mic and genuinely disturbed me. I decided not to go backstage and ask for an autograph.

Irkallian Oracle presented both a visual and aural feast and left me feeling like one of the most privileged individuals on the planet just to be there.

Playing in total darkness bar four candles, Sortilegia were also nothing short of magnificent. Three amazing acts in a row and two more to come. Or so I thought…

Svartidauði is the best live band I’ve seen so I couldn’t wait for them. I was standing at the front of the stage, filled with joy and anticipation, when the announcement came that both they and Dead Congregation had been pulled from the festival. Nifelheim would still play. Fuck Nifelheim. Svartidauði should have appeared as they were next in line.

Both bands who were axed from the show were present at the venue and ready to perform. Sturla Viðar from Svartidauði informed me downstairs inside the front door that he had been in Glasgow since Wednesday and was told in no uncertain terms that he couldn’t play. I said I was disgusted and he countered that he was far more annoyed than I was. This is understandable.

It’s such a pity this happened at the end of such a sensational celebration of occult Black and Death Metal. Seems poor ticket sales left the promoter out of pocket and the venue owner opted to pull the plug either because he wasn’t fully paid or because of some pig blood smeared on a white wall backstage or a combination of both of these things.

The exact reasons given since have been rather confusing (and the link between the backstage incident and lack of ticket sales / funds for all unclear – did the latter prompt the former?) but I think it’s safe to say that all of the bands would have played had the festival sold out. I’m amazed that less than 500 people are interested in attending a show with such a wonderful line-up. Say what you want about competition from other festivals and the lack of disposable income people have these days but, for me, this was a line-up that will be hard to top.

Makes me worry about the future of such events. Will we ever see anything like this again? A lot of people lost a lot of money. It’s a shame there isn’t more appreciation for this wonderful music and these wonderful bands and great people.

A sad end to a monumental two-day ritual.

DARVAZA – THE DOWNWARD DESCENT MLP (Terratur Possessions)

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

darvaza-the-downward-descentFeaturing the talents of Italian ace drummer Omega (Deathrow, Blut Aus Nord, Fides Inversa, Frostmoon Eclipse, Acherontas, Martröð) – here handling all instruments – and Norwegian voice of death Wraath (Behexen, Dark Sonority, Mare, Celestial Bloodshed, Kaosritual and One Tail, One Head), Darvaza’s is indeed an unholy alliance forged in decay.

This debut mini-album emerged on vinyl in April of this year and delivers four ghastly, profane rituals over the course of 31 minutes. ‘The Downward Descent’ has been spinning 45 times per minute fairly regularly on my deck of doom this week, as the band is scheduled to appear at Caledonian Darkness II on Saturday evening.

I have no idea why I didn’t review this previously as it’s truly a great record; dark and unhallowed as hell itself but with a lot of variety to be found in its inherent evilness, too.

Evilometer: 666/666

BARSHASKETH – OPHIDIAN HENOSIS LP (Blut & Eisen Productions / World Terror Committee)

Monday, October 17th, 2016

barshasketh-ophidian-henosisThere’s nothing particularly amazing about Barshasketh’s third full-length, ‘Ophidian Henosis’, alas, and I must admit to being somewhat disappointed by how unremarkable and ordinary the album is. Although it’s hardly a terrible record, I find it boring and never feel any desire to give it another spin.

I dug it out again this week, however, as I will be going to see them live on Friday, and it still refuses to click with me. With so much great Black Metal being unleashed these days, this one is something of an also-ran.

Evilometer: 222/666

QRIXKUOR – THREE DEVILS DANCE MLP (Invictus Productions)

Saturday, October 15th, 2016

qrixkuor-three-devils-danceI’ve decided in the week running up to Caledonian Darkness II to generally only listen to bands who are playing at the festival. As I really appreciate some 13 of the 15 hordes taking part, this leaves me with a lot of scope!

Yesterday, I reached for Qrixkuor’s rather astounding MLP, ‘Three Devils Dance’, first, electing to start at the beginning as they are opening proceedings at 4pm on the Friday evening.

I ended up spinning the record six or seven times before the cock rolled over and have already had it on rotation twice this morning. Not leaving me much time to shoot through the other records that constitute my cunning week-long plan but, fuck, this is terrific blackened Death Metal, dark and dangerous and murky but with hidden depths as well and more deft touches than a Barcelona match.

An easy one to file away because it’s the only vinyl I own from a band beginning with the letter ‘Q’ and, at 38 minutes, the three-track offering is longer than many full-lengths. Wonderful stuff. Roll on Friday and an early start in the Scottish capital! Looking forward to seeing these hooded demons again.

Evilometer: 666/666

SHATAAN – WEIGH OF THE WOLF LP (Iron Bonehead Productions)

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

shataan-weigh-of-the-wolfIt would be fair to say that Shataan channel a unique and distinct sound all of their own. As soon as I started listening to their rather outrageous debut LP, ‘Weigh Of The Wolf’, the music sounded familiar to me straight away.

Probably because I’d previously encountered a few of their songs on the excellent ‘Desert Dances And Serpent Sermons’ compilation album and another one on the equally-sensational ‘Tlilitic Tlapoyauak’ 3LP.

To be fair, it’s the exact same formula again. It’s a winning formula, however, so I’m not complaining. Featuring the duo behind more-infamous Black Twilight Circle hordes Volahn and Arizmenda, this sounds nothing like Black Metal, really.

It’s more trippy, shamanic, occult, ritualistic cleansing. With flute included. And spaghetti western whistling. And a closing track that is uncannily like Social Distortion. Bad, bad Mexican medicine.

Evilometer: 666/666

BEKËTH NEXËHMÜ – DE GLÖMDAS URSJÄLAR LP (Nordisk Kultur)

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

beketh-nexehmu-de-glomdas-ursjalarThe latest Bekëth Nexëhmü record (seems I review one of these every couple of years) is a bit of a strange fish in that the LP version of the single track offered, ‘En Förglömd Ursjäl’, runs for 23-and-a-half minutes while the CD version passes the 40-minute mark. There’s nothing on the second side of the record! My first reaction to that hammer blow was one of disgust. Surely I deserve to hear the entire thing?

Once I’d got over the disappointment, however, I came to realise that ‘De Glömdas Ursjälar’ is a truly phenomenal LP even as it is. Okay, some of it is missing … but the music that is presented here possibly represents BN’s finest offering to date

It’s an extraordinary spacey, ambient Black Metal track, which seems to last forever anyhow and – instead of flipping the record over to hear the pretty redundant ambient outro section that has been culled – I can play the meat and bones part of Swartadauþuz’s vision over and over again. I’ve spun this record a hell of a lot and it seems to get better each time.

Despite the lost 17 minutes, I cannot deduce any marks.

Evilometer: 666/666

BROKEN SPIRIT – VIVID DREAMING LP (Altare Productions)

Friday, October 7th, 2016

broken-spirit-vivid-dreamingNocturnal transmissions from the deepest depths of the underground. Perth, Australia. One being. Possessed. ‘Vivid Dreaming’. Raw Black Metal. Eerie emanations with ambient brushes. Unsettling, glorious, barely decipherable. DIY. Painfully limited to just 119 copies. Unmissable black wax. Seek it out. Fuck off. Die.

Evilometer: 666/666

AUM – OM AH HUM VAJRA GURU PADMA SIDDHI HUM LP (Iron Bonehead Productions)

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

aum-om-ah-hum-vajra-guru-padma-siddhi-humI’d never heard tell of AUM until a few weeks ago but checked out a few songs on the IBP Bandcamp page as soon as the record appeared in their webstore as real live inventory and quickly deduced that ‘Om Ah Hum Vajra Guru Padma Siddhi Hum’ was a mandatory purchase.

Kind of like a mutated offspring of Necros Christos and Altarage, this exceptional album delivers 41 minutes of stellar, atmospheric Death Metal, performed with militaristic precision and imbued with an ominous, dark spirit that’s embellished greatly by the seamless gear changes and mood transitions, including some fleeting exotic ambient moments.

All in all, this is utterly superb and the presentation is as professional and appealing as we’ve come to expect from IBP.

Evilometer: 666/666

MYSTIK – DUNKLA KLANGOR… (KAPITEL I) LP (Nordisk Kultur)

Saturday, October 1st, 2016

mystik-dunkla-klangorMystik ‎is a mysterious and previously-unknown (to me, at least) entity from the Ancient Records stable, which has just simultaneously unleashed two opening shots. Although both records are listed as compilations for some reason, ‘Dunkla Klangor… (Kapitel I)’ is ostensibly the debut full-length and – like its companion piece,  ‘Af Herrens Mystik… (Kapitel II)’ – it rather surprisingly sold out within minutes of arriving in select distros.

This is ultra-high-quality Black Metal for sure, perhaps too melodic for my liking, running for about 42 minutes, delivered by S., who may or may not be Swartadauþuz, not that it matters. Not that anything matters.

Evilometer: 555/666