Monday, April 24, 2017 22:55

Archive for March, 2017

CLANDESTINE BLAZE – CITY OF SLAUGHTER LP (Northern Heritage)

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

Clandestine Blaze - City Of SlaughterClandestine Blaze is one of the most enduring, essential and downright awesome entities in Black Metal and has consistently delivered music of the very highest calibre. Even though the back catalogue is immense and every album is laudable, Mikko’s one-man sledgehammer does appear to be gathering momentum with each release.

Ninth full-length, ‘City Of Slaughter’ is everything I hoped it would be – and then some. A historic release in that it’s the 100th to appear under the Northern Heritage banner, this monumental record is nigh on perfect from start to finish. The savage, gigantic nine-minute ‘Return Into The City Of Slaughter’ provides a suitably epic centrepiece to a dark, moody, atmospheric, angry and hate-filled album from an inspired artist who has perfected his crafty craft, honed his hateful hate and learned how to perfectly channel his disgusting disgust.

I always enjoy reading Clandestine Blaze’s lyrics and this record (most notably the aforementioned opus) certainly doesn’t disappoint in that regard, either. Wonderful.

Evilometer: 666/666

TEITANBLOOD – ACCURSED SKIN MLP (Norma Evangelium Diaboli / The Ajna Offensive)

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

Teitanblood - Accursed Skin MLPAccursed Skin’ is a 26-minute-long, 45rpm MLP featuring one new song – the title track – paired with ‘Sanctified Dysecdysis’, which served as foil to previously-vinyl-only-track, ‘Purging Tongues’, on the 2012 ‘Woven Black Arteries’ CD EP (and was never before available on vinyl). Confused? Me too.

Even though the cost of entry is the same as it would have been for a full-length and this release could be viewed by cynical minds as something of a cash grab, I sincerely do not believe this to be the case. All Teitanblood material is worth having and it was a customer-friendly move from both label and band to make this dual offering available on black wax.

A superb record to get your ears around while awaiting the third album from these superb Spanish chaos invokers.

Evilometer: 666/666

DIABOLI – WIKING DIVISION LP (Northern Heritage)

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

Diaboli - Wiking DivisionThis record is about a year old already but I’ve only just recently added it to my collection. I’d been on the look-out for a convenient opportunity to snag a copy but distribution was limited compared to other Northern Heritage releases.

Under the Diaboli banner, Petri Ilvespakka peddles a straightforward, no-frills brand of medium-paced, rocking Black Metal that’s impossible to dislike and – vaguely reminiscent of the mighty Clandestine Blaze – ‘Wiking Division’ is a really great listen.

Like, really great.

Evilometer: 666/666

UŠKUMGALLU – ROTTEN LIMBS IN DREAMS OF BLOOD LP (Vrasubatlat)

Friday, March 24th, 2017

Uškumgallu - Rotten Limbs In Dreams Of BloodUškumgallu’s debut full-length, ‘Rotten Limbs In Dreams Of Blood’, is a twisted, depraved slab of sinister, primitive Black / Death Metal for which all the usual negative-positive superlatives apply. From start to finish, it’s an unsettling, unnerving experience but one you will want to live through over and over again. Shedding your skin.

Nightmarish, psychotic and claustrophobic but with just enough subtle nuances, interludes and noise to keep things bearable, this album is a real breath of fresh air and a true lesson to others in how to deliver music that’s genuinely obscure and crushing yet nourishing. It will shatter your soul and replenish your spirit.

Just awesome. In fact, this is probably one of the best records in my collection.

Evilometer: 666/666

BLOOD TYRANT – NIGHT OF BLOOD MOON LP (Skjold)

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

Blood Tyrant - Night Of Blood MoonThis is Blood Tyrant’s eight-song 2016 demo reissued on vinyl (plus one bonus track). As is often the case with underground emissions, do not be deceived by the term ‘demo’. ‘Night Of Blood Moon’ sounds a little low (Easy fix: turn the volume up) but, generally, has a sound quality befitting an album proper within this subgenre.

It’s also excellent. And generous at over 30 minutes…

Not quite as stellar as ‘Aristocracy Of Twilight’, in my humble opinion, but nevertheless a pretty sensational presentation of prime, raw, organic Black Metal with that oft-elusive distant, ancient, eerie chill factor. Really nails down that authentic mood that so many others strive for but miss entirely.

Skjold out for now but guaranteed to be reissued sooner rather than later. Get it, then, if you haven’t already.

Evilometer: 666/666

BLACK CILICE – BANISHED FROM TIME LP (Iron Bonehead Productions)

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

Black Cilice - Banished From TimeEvery new Black Cilice record represents a truly seismic event in my living room and ‘Banished From Time’ is no different to its predecessors in this regard. Even though the previous three full-lengths were mandatory purchases and pretty much perfect in execution and tone, the Portuguese cellar-dweller does – rather remarkably – appear to be getting better with each passing emission.

It’s like he’s honing his craft, mastering the technique of hammering home his unique strain of depraved raw Black Metal pestilence and depravity in the most concise, potent and engaging manner possible. On ‘Banished From Time’, I hear an artist at the absolute peak of his creative power. While the music remains incredibly bleak, strained, nasty and deathly, the delivery is somehow more measured, more calculated, just better composed, constructed and (dare I say?) premeditated.

It still sounds essentially like a spontaneous outburst of violence and madness; and it remains patently of the underground, but the walls of the dank dungeon have been insulated a little better – perhaps with the bones of a thousand fools – and the unsettling chaos seeps through in a clearer and more accurate manner than ever before. A harrowing, repetitive, hypnotic mantra of death and surrender to the darkness, this album will take your pointless breath away.

Right now, Black Cilice is utterly lethal, more addictive than heroin, and catchier than the most contagious contagion.

Evilometer: 666/666

DEATHSPELL OMEGA – THE SYNARCHY OF MOLTEN BONES LP (Norma Evangelium Diaboli)

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

Deathspell Omega - The Synarchy Of Molten BonesI’m not sure exactly what criteria Deathspell Omega deploy to determine which of their releases qualify as full-lengths and which are mini albums (nor indeed is it any of my business) but the first thing I noticed about their sixth album proper, ‘The Synarchy Of Molten Bones’, is that it is by far and away their shortest LP, passing by considerably quicker than even the magnificent 2005 offering, ‘Kénôse’, which was apparently an EP.

This one was first mooted as a new MLP but somewhere along the way, ‘The Synarchy Of Molten Bones’ became a 29-minute, four-track full-length. Considering that the epic ‘Si Monvmentvm Reqvires, Circvmspice’ is almost 78 minutes long, this latest effort is disappointingly short, even if obviously quality rules over quantity. Why can’t we have both, though?

As ever with these theologian trailblazers, the quality is of course beyond dispute but the record – which plays at 45rpm – is over way too soon. Especially considering that it had been a full six years since its predecessor, ‘Paracletus’. Maybe the well of inspiration has dried up somewhat and they didn’t want to include any filler or flog a dead horse, who knows? As things are, we get a short but sweet reminder of the brilliance of Deathspell Omega.

Evilometer: 555/666

FATHERLAND – FATHERLAND LP (No Sign Of Life Records)

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

Fatherland - FatherlandTo an extent, I think that Fatherland might be better served by channeling a larger percentage of their red-hot hate and intolerance into some form of creativity – or better song-writing – to make their material stand out a little better from the crowd.

Because, with the monotonous assault found on their debut full-length and fairly insipid shouty vocals, there’s certainly nothing unique or memorable going on here. The record could easily fall into the patently unremarkable category … you know, the one you have heard a thousand times before, often done better?

Having said that, ‘Fatherland’ is nevertheless a competent and energetic slab of vitriolic punky NSBM, complete with glorious, melodic interludes. All in all, it is more good than boring, although the Finns aren’t quite in the league of a Nordvrede or Order Of The Death’s Head just yet.

Far from perfect but still worth your time.

Evilometer: 444/666

OSTOTS – EZER EZAREN ARAZTASUNA LP (Altare Productions / Skjold)

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

Ostots - Ezer Ezaren AraztasunaEzer Ezaren Araztasuna’ – another Ostots album title that I will never utter. I used Google Translate to find out what it means but I’ll never be able to pronounce it, remember it or spell it. Copy-and-paste serves me well in these instances. Anyhow, the third full-length from IA under this banner is utterly superb in every conceivable way, proving to me that Ostots just keeps on getting better.

The music and vocals (especially) and the general vibe seems like at least a slight departure from his previous work, although I’m not sure in exactly what way (and am too lazy to contemplate the subtle nuances further; besides it hardly matters).

This album is a really solid, confident, definitive statement – epic and glorious in an almost Slavonic sense but nevertheless suitably evil and raw and undeniably underground. A clear step-up from the first two full-lengths, which were in themselves pretty sensational.

It’s partly because of the quality of artists like Ostots that there appears to be an explosion in the popularity of underground Black Metal at the moment. There are probably other reasons too. I don’t know if this is still available but there is sure to be a repress and it’s certainly a record that is worthy of its place in any collection. Get it when you can.

Evilometer: 666/666

TURIA – DOR LP (Altare Productions)

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

Turia - Dor LPThe accompanying brouhaha was conspicuous by its absence when Turia unleashed their debut full-length last year but that doesn’t really mean anything. One of the truly mystifying anomalies of the Black Metal underground is how some virgin albums receive inexplicable amounts of hype while other equally-worthy, fledgling releases seem by comparison to slip beneath the radar and disappear almost into oblivion.

As it happens, this Dutch three-piece deliver some truly absorbing minimalist, repetitive, ambient Black Metal in the vein of a Fell Voices, Ash Borer or Vanum and ‘Dor’ is a top-notch release, with four lengthy tracks that flow into one another seamlessly (38 minutes in all) and fly by due to their innate catchiness and undeniably high quality.

Evilometer: 666/666

CARVED CROSS – CARVED CROSS LP (Overuse)

Friday, March 10th, 2017

Carved Cross - Carved Cross LPSharing a member with Forbidden Citadel of Spirits, Carved Cross is another raw Black Metal entity from the never-to-be-visited-by me Australian outpost of Tasmania – a perfect breeding ground it would seem for obscure despondency and rampant decay.

Although not quite as rough and ragged as FCOS, Carved Cross’ music – which hereon comprises two unnamed dirges, one considerably longer than the other – remains nevertheless fuzzy and primitive and flagrantly under-produced.

Eschewing any notable deployment of speed or aggression, their second full-length is a fine example of harsh, ambient, forlorn Black Metal weighed down by despair, dejection, solitude and emptiness. What more could one want in these utterly pointless, soul-destroying times?

Evilometer: 666/666

THE RUINS OF BEVERAST – TAKITUM TOOTEM! EP (Ván Records)

Monday, March 6th, 2017

The Ruins Of Beverast - Takitum Tootem!At shy of 21 minutes, ‘Takitum Tootem!’ lasts about as long as a good shit but it’s still a very nice release. It’s ultra-accessible (I can imagine my uncles who are all sixty-something farmers with big red cheeks dancing along to it at a wedding) and it’s certainly another worrying departure from TROB’s blackened roots – especially with the new full-length imminent – but by fuck it’s splendid.

The cover of ‘Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun’ is neither here nor there but better to have it on the flipside, rather than an etching or something, after splashing out the price of an album for an EP. I’d like to have got more bang for my buck and also to have been offered more than nine minutes of original material but this one still gets a big thumbs up (even if it’s clearly not Black Metal).

Evilometer: 666/666

ANTAEUS – CONDEMNATION LP (Norma Evangelium Diaboli)

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

Antaeus - CondemnationA full decade on from ‘Blood Libels’, I had subconsciously given up on ever hearing another Antaeus full-length. Thus, it was a nice surprise to learn last year that a fourth album was imminent from one of France’s truly great Black Metal exports. And ‘Condemnation’ does not disappoint.

The aggression and violence and intensity of the attack may become somewhat monotonous at times but this is blasphemous, hateful Black Metal with fuck-all frills so a mostly-one-dimensional, pummeling blitzkrieg is only to be expected. The stale production works perfectly and the record proves that Antaeus are masters of their black craft.

Spellbinding, punishing stuff from two decorated veterans of the dark arts (aided by a rather excellent Portuguese session drummer of Lvcifyre, Enthroned and Nightbringer infamy, whose militaristic precision embellishes the attack magnificently), the album contains an occasional moment of restraint, offering scant mercy in the face of a skull-imploding barrage of buzzing Satanism.

Deliberately understated and un-grandiose, ‘Condemnation’ came across as somewhat subdued and uninspired upon initial listens, but I persevered with it and, fuck me sideways, was I richly rewarded or was I richly rewarded…

Simply immense.

Evilometer: 666/666

ARRIA PAETUS – ARRIA PAETUS (Lycaean Triune)

Saturday, March 4th, 2017

Arria Paetus - Arria PaetusEmerging from the darkness, despair and desolation of Alaska, Arria Paetus spew forth their self-titled debut full-length and it’s immediately apparent that the flames of rage burn wildly in their blackened hearts. This album is imbued with venom, contempt and revulsion for all things human, blazing through the speakers like hot spears through the livers of mankind.

I have a real soft spot for any band that makes no effort to conceal their disdain for all life because, let’s face it, this planet is ruled by a race of fucking germs. Copious insidious melodies and the widespread use of dual vocals – black shrieks and death growls – complement the pummeling hostility and offer the listener’s ears some respite but, by and large, this is a caustic, angry and nihilistic affair. A labour of loathing directed at you and me, and rightly so.

Due to its ambitious nature, ‘Arria Paetus’ might appear rough around the edges, and slightly disjointed at times, but that only adds to the appeal when we’re talking about raw, underground Black Metal. All things considered, this is an excellent release. Give it a listen on Bandcamp and then order a tape before they’re all gone.

Evilometer: 666/666

ORATION MMXVII – HÚRRA, REYKJAVÍK, ICELAND (February 16-18, 2017)

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

Rebirth Of Nefast - Oration MMXVIIEighteen bands took to the stage at Húrra in Reykjavík over the course of three dark nights in February, 2017 and my journey to the most-northerly capital in the world was one that I will never forget. It’s difficult to know where to begin with a review of such a momentous event so I’ll start in the middle, just to be awkward…

Night Two: Friday presented me with the welcome opportunity to witness both Slidhr and Sinmara for the third time inside a lucky six-month period. Slidhr were the fourth band of the night and they delivered an incredible set, one that is so tight, concise and honed at this juncture that it beggars belief.

Mastermind Joseph Deegan utilises the services of Sinmara duo Bjarni Einarsson and Garðar S. Jónsson in the live setting as well as ex-Sinmara bassist Wann (aka Stephen Lockhart of Rebirth of Nefast, Studio Emissary and, of course Oration). Watching the quartet go through their paces on stage, it’s mad to think they don’t live in the same town and practice together every day.

Joe and Stephen are also members of Haud Mundus, who were the third band on stage tonight. I think this was their first and only gig and it was a belter. Rookies Nexion opened the second day’s festivities and they can be proud of their performance. Abominor took to the stage third and they were excellent; looking forward to a full-length from them. Sinmara did what Sinmara invariably does – an immense display of harsh black savagery.

The headline act on Day Two was The Ruins of Beverast – one of my all-time favourites. It was a real privilege to witness Alexander Von Meilenwald in such an intimate setting, although I’m not sure how well the complex and majestic music of TROB lends itself to the live environment. For it to fully work, I guess you’d need five Alexes on stage. It was still pretty damn great, though.

Friday’s Band Of The Night: Slidhr

Night One: After parting with a week’s wages in return for a small meal, I sauntered into the womb of Húrra in downtown Reykjavík on the Thursday evening not knowing what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the venue was essentially a large bar with a slightly-elevated stage, which of course meant that the bands would be very close as they played.

The young guys of Draugsól had the daunting task of opening proceedings and they did well, delivering a short, solid set. Mannveira upped the ante and Naðra pushed things up a notch further, knocking out a painfully heavy show. ZHRINE looked a bit stupid because they weren’t wearing corpse paint (instead opting for the nerd look) but they duly cantered through a powerful and inventive Death Metal set.

Misþyrming were quite simply sensational. Considering that it was more or less the same crew that had played just two hours earlier with Naðra, the energy they brought to the stage was frightening and it was no surprise when the first mosh pit of the weekend broke out. Spitting out their tunes with uncanny precision and ridiculous ease, D.G. and co were arguably the band of the weekend.

Mgla were headliners. It had been a long, long day and for a while their presence just passed me by. Then, without warning, I was back in the land of the living and utterly thrilled to be in Iceland to take in the hooded Poles in all their glory at such close quarters. They really got the crowd going and it was an amazing experience.

Thursday’s Band Of The Night: Misþyrming

Night Three: Refreshed by steeping my balls in the Blue Lagoon for a couple of hours, I returned to the venue for the third and last time.  It really was a case of saving the best wine ‘til last as five of the six bands on Saturday night were staggeringly good. I’m not sure what pigeonhole we can fit NYIÞ into but their Black Mass routine at the start of the night was stunning. The audience was entranced and remained respectfully silent throughout as they put on a performance that was out of this world.

Almyrkvi is the brilliant Garðar S. Jónsson’s one-man band. He handled vocal duties live and true to form the show was superb. Rebirth of Nefast had only played live once before – at the inaugural Oration – and his debut full-length is imminent. Cloaked in robes, RoN looked great and sounded even better. A special word of mention has to go to creative force Stephen Lockhart, the man who not alone pulled all the moving parts together to make this festival happen but also the mind behind Rebirth of Nefast. He has assembled a terrific live band … all the songs sounded great, as did his vocals. After seeing this show, ‘Tabernaculum’ is my most-anticipated release at the moment.

Unbelievably, there were still three more bands to go…

Aosoth surprised me. Not sure why I expected them to suck but they were quite brilliant. Outre seemed great (insanely crushing) for a while … until the singing parts kicked in and fucked everything up.

Having cruelly missed out on seeing Svartidauði in Glasgow when they were pulled from Caledonian Darkness II at the eleventh hour, I couldn’t wait to see them churn out a headlining set in their home town. At close to midnight on the Saturday night, they took to the stage and duly laid the place to waste. I was tired and had been subjected to more great Black Metal over three days than anyone deserves, and my concentration wasn’t what it should have been, but still Svartidauði made me so, so happy.

Their musicianship is like nothing else I’ve ever seen and it was with a heavy heart that I watched the second—or-third-or-fourth-hardest-working man in Icelandic Black Metal, Þórir Garðarsson, vacate the stage for the last time. What an end to an incredible weekend!

Saturday’s Band Of The Night: Rebirth of Nefast

(Thanks to Woda i Pustka for the Rebirth of Nefast photo.)