Saturday, February 24, 2018 02:21

Archive for the ‘Black’ Category

LIHHAMON – DOCTRINE LP (Nuclear War Now!)

Sunday, February 18th, 2018

Lihhamon - DoctrineHailing from the industrial city of Leipzig, uncompromising German three-piece Lihhamon recorded their astonishing debut full-length on their own steam in 2015, without having sourced a label. ‘Doctrine’ features half an hour of bludgeoning, bestial Black / Death Metal in the vein of Conqueror, Revenge, Black Witchery or Diocletian and it’s no major surprise that the vinyl edition of this wonderful album has found its home on NWN!.

Pummeling and relentless violence erupts through the speakers during the course of an emphatic, thunderous, cacophonous demonstration of power. From composition through to execution and presentation, everything about the record is nigh on perfect. In short, this is simply an awesome aural assault.

Evilometer: 666/666

UR / GAUA – URMAHELL (Vertebrae)

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

UrmahellWhere there are members of elite trail-blazing Basque entities Nakkiga and Sentimen Beltza involved, then the chances are high that something very special is in the offing. And, true to form, ‘Urmahell’ – an unholy alliance between Ur and relative newcomer Gaua – delivers 35 minutes of soaring-like-an-eagle underground Black Metal besieged by longing, anguish and heartfelt sentiment.

Ur’s epic, soul-stripping lamentation, ‘Aintziraren islada’, marries traditional, folk-honed, atmospheric Black Metal – in a Drudkh vein perhaps but borne of the verdant hills, valleys, plains, forests and mountains of the western Pyrenees as opposed to the Slavic mythology of the Ukrainian quartet – with strange, shrieking howls, to produce an absorbing slab of rich, varied, beguiling music.

As a counterpoint, Gaua presents ‘Luna’ – more straightforward, more aggressive, more familiar-sounding. Laden with hostility and rage yet, through devilishly melodic passages, still subtly imbued with the keen sense of pathos / pride that Ur espouses. Gaua is what Primordial might sound like if Primordial wasn’t complete and utter shite. There’s an abundance of variety between the two songs and also within each one.

Flowing like powerful, violent rivers through timeless lands, both offerings are uniquely majestic, emotional and forlorn, including some acoustic (Ur) and bluesy (Gaua) parts, but there’s also harshness and bleakness at work forging a dynamic that elevates the music to a level of greatness.

Evilometer: 666/666

INQUISITION – INTO THE INFERNAL REGIONS OF THE ANCIENT CULT 2LP (No Colours Records )

Monday, February 12th, 2018

Inquisition - Into The Infernal Regions Of The Ancient CultIncredibly, it has now been 22 years since this masterpiece of trailblazing Black Metal was recorded. Inquisition introduced a really unique style of BM to the underground, with a cosmic vibe and an almost naïve, innocent sense of evil that truly stands the test of time. Somehow, that old-school evil is the best of all!

Debut ‘Into The Infernal Regions Of The Ancient Cult’ is a sprawling full-length (66 minutes and 6 seconds, aptly, although this version is much longer, with four bonus rituals) that sounds fresh and nasty every time I revisit it. I dusted it down again today as the landscape here is covered in snow and – wow! – it’s still fucking awesome. How I enjoy those toad-like vocals.

It’s been re-released multiple times and remains widely available. Just a majestic slab of occult Black Metal that marks the beginning of one of the subgenre’s most enduring and important acts. Stunning.

Evilometer: 666/666

VENUS STAR – THE KNOT WILL NOT LP (Kuunpalvelus)

Saturday, February 10th, 2018

Venus Star ‎– The Knot Will NotAtvar (AKA Rauta) is a seriously-talented individual. He’s the driving force behind a number of wonderful Black Metal acts, each with their own unique sound. He must possess a truly great mind to consistently deliver on all of these projects over and over again.

Venus Star ‎is one of many where he’s the sole member and ‘The Knot Will Not’ is this entity’s fourth – and best – full-length, released once more on Kuunpalvelus, his own label. Massive kudos to the magnificent, supremely-talented Finn, particularly for the inspirational closer, ‘Ride Forth, Beast Torch, Beyond the Beyond’.

Evilometer: 666/666

THY SEPULCHRAL MOON – INDIGNANT FORCE OF GREAT MALEVOLENCE LP (Signal Rex)

Sunday, February 4th, 2018

Thy Sepulchral Moon - Indignant Force Of Great MalevolenceRegurgitating the foul, fetid filth from their little-known ‘Incantations Inciting Demise’ and ‘Contemptuous Retaliation Storm’ offensives (as well as covers of Von and Beherit plus three demo cuts), ‘Indignant Force Of Great Malevolence’ is a 35-minute stagnant pool of noxious-to-the-core Black / Death (but not as we know it…), complete with hideous, poisonous dual vocals and the most malevolent intent.

The gurgled noise emitted by this unnamed trio from South Korea and Canada is about as raw, odious and downright indignant as one could wish to hear, like TSM are literally vomiting their contempt for the world through the speakers. Their disdain is well placed because this planet really is a steaming cesspit overflowing with human slurry.

Evilometer: 666/666

SINMARA – WITHIN THE WEAVES OF INFINITY MLP (Terratur Possessions)

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

Sinmara - Within The Weaves Of InfinityAs we wait patiently and expectedly for Sinmara to unleash the follow up to their amazing 2014 opening shot, ‘Aphotic Womb’, the Icelandic quintet at least offered some welcome sustenance in the form of this three-song EP, which was released last summer and demonstrated once more the uncanny quality that permeates everything this band puts its ridiculously talented hands to.

If the immense, landmark full-length was a feast of swirling black dissonance and chaos, then ‘Within The Weaves Of Infinity’ is a mere snack to tide one over, clocking in at less than 20 minutes, yet rousing, powerful, anthemic. Less intense, dizzying and challenging than hitherto, the subtly-more-accessible, restrained and catchy Sinmara demonstrates a slightly different visage, a tweak, but coming from the same black hearts of a driven coterie of shadow-clad musicians who can simply do no wrong.

Excellent stuff again, with a great presentation (worthy of an album proper) and some interesting lyrics to try to get one’s head around … just a shame there’s not more of it.

Evilometer: 666/666

VASSAFOR – MALEDICTION LP (Iron Bonehead Productions)

Sunday, January 28th, 2018

Vassafor - MaledictionThis is one heavy record. Literally. It’s listed as 180g but feels more like 280 in my bony hands. Chunky as all fuck. Maybe it’s the oppressive, all-consuming chaos painstakingly pressed into the grooves of the deep black wax that weighs it down.

Either way, Vassafor’s aptly-titled second full-length, ‘Malediction’, is another monster from this stellar band, undoubtedly one of the finest dwelling in the decayed Black / Death underground. Considering that the New Zealand duo have been releasing high-quality music for more than two decades and have a sizeable canon of incredible material to their credit, it’s difficult to fathom that there are just two albums proper…

And even though there are only three new songs contained on here (‘Servitude’ and ‘Black Winds Victoryant’ are re-recorded versions of cuts that were included on the amazing ‘Elegy of the Archeonaut’ 2LP), ‘Malediction’ is nevertheless an outstanding exhibit of murky, cavernous, rumbling black doom that kicks off with the sensationally-disturbing 16-minute-plus ‘Devourer Of A Thousand Worlds’ and never lets up.

Everything about this album is magnificent, apart from the fact that I dropped my copy onto the platter (Although from no great height, it plummeted forcefully downwards, like an angry hippo’s stool) and etched a multitude of unwanted clicks into Side A. Too much weight for my feeble limbs.

Heavy gatefold jacket, inner sleeve and poster further bolster the gross weight, so you might want to visit the gym a few times before picking this substantial unit up.

Evilometer: 666/666

FUNERAL ALTAR – FUNERAL ALTAR LP (Skjold)

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

Funeral Altar - Funeral AltarFuneral Altar’s self-titled first full-length album is great but, due to Skjold’s unpopular policy of limiting its releases to around half the number of hairs in an average eyebrow, chances are many people who want it won’t be able to get it. Which is a shame. I’m not sure what can be gained from setting limitations so far below anticipated demand – it certainly doesn’t benefit the consumer.

Having said that, I’m also unsure as to how much of said demand is false, i.e. generated by forces other than the quality of the music. If limitation was never disclosed, how many would still crave this music? Is there an artificial demand caused by the knowledge that the record is more valuable financially from the perspective of a prospective speculator? Are investors distorting the market?

Who the fuck knows anymore! Just how big is the worldwide audience for quality raw Black Metal? I have no idea. If 300 copies of this were pressed rather than 150, could the label lose money? I doubt it but who knows. Five-hundred might be a risk, especially if the hypefog dissipated. Fucking economics.

At the end of the day, labels can do what they want. But Skjold’s releases are hot as hell now so hopefully there’ll be some represses and an increase in pressing numbers soon. Although that would strip them of their mystique and indefinable appeal, to an extent, so don’t hold your breath.

Evilometer: 666/666

TRONO ALÉM MORTE – O OLHAR ATENTO DA ESCURIDÃO LP (Signal Rex)

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

Trono Além Morte - O Olhar Atento Da EscuridãoFeaturing six lengthy exhibits – direct from the seeping cave – of lo-fi, raw, barely-there, evil-as-all-fuck Black Metal, Trono Além Morte’s debut full-length clocks in at nigh on 45 minutes and is a prime example of stellar, straight-up, no nonsense underground Black Metal that eschews production values and accessibility from start to finish.

Filthy and grimy, dank and dripping of decrepitude, ‘O Olhar Atento Da Escuridão’ is aimed at those outcasts and dark souls who want their music with no polish, no sophistication and no fucking frills.

With underground Black Metal currently dying a slow and painful death at the hands of a bizarre new attention-seeking, bandwagon-hopping,  forum-loving, Instagram-endorsing fanbase due in a large part to the behaviour of certain labels who are deliberately making the music as difficult to access as they possibly can, mistakenly believing that a product which is painfully limited and therefore potentially more valuable on a monetary level is also somehow rendered better and worthier of adulation (and it seems to work to a certain extent), it’s refreshing to hear some genuinely carefree Portuguese Black Metal that reeks of the good old days of Discipline and Bubonic Productions, that clearly says Fuck You, and that you can actually get your hands on.

This is an excellent record. Nothing more. Refreshingly gimmick free in a world of sneakiness, speculating and cynicism and an endless race to the bottom where idiots are basing their choice of what music to buy on its potential resale value. Why not just buy records that are good?

Evilometer: 666/666

NORTT – ENDELIGT LP (Avantgarde Music)

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

Nortt - Endeligt LPA full decade after ‘Galgenfrist’, Nortt returns with his fourth full-length and ‘Endeligt’ is as dark and unsettling a dose of black funeral doom as we could have longed for. It’s sombre and melancholy and plodding, rather easy-listening stuff with not much aggression on display but the deep sense of pathos and foreboding evident across the 40-odd minutes renders this a deeply unsettling and crushing experience.

I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed what Nortt does and I think this is a great, great record, even if there are a lot more crackles on my copy than I’d like there to be.

Evilometer: 666/666

FROZEN GRAVES – FROZEN GRAVES LP (Kuunpalvelus)

Monday, January 1st, 2018

Frozen Graves - Frozen Graves LPFeaturing Luxixul Sumering Auter of Cosmic Church, Aura Saturnal and Asymmetry on drums and keyboards as well as Nécropole vocalist Déchéance, Frozen Graves is a unique, international Black Metal combo that has fashioned a very impressive self-titled debut full-length.

Due to the oftentimes overbearing keys, this record is a bit lusher and more extravagant than I’d ideally prefer. Strangulated vocals are great and there’s definitely an otherworldly eeriness at play here. But it’s very melodic and easy on the ear, which is certainly not what I was expecting.

Evilometer: 444/666

WROK – DE ONHEILSBODE LP (Heidens Hart Records)

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

Wrok - De OnheilsbodeApologies for this one but there have been many times of late when I listened to Wrok around the clock. ‘De Onheilsbode’ is the Dutch duo’s debut full-length, their only prior releases being some long-forgotten demos from around 20 years ago.

There’s 50 minutes of primitive, ancient-sounding Satanic Black Metal on here, delivered with enthusiasm, passion and intent embellished greatly by a unique but very authentic sound. Truly excellent, nasty stuff.

As well as sounding superb, the record is also tastefully presented (kudos to a wonderful label), so this is a major winner all around. Another exceptional release from the tarnished lowlands.

Evilometer: 666/666

WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM – THRICE WOVEN 2LP (Artemisia Records)

Saturday, December 30th, 2017

Wolves In The Throne Room - Thrice WovenScene is obviously the wrong word but Wolves In The Throne Room were a tree-hugging breath of fresh air when they arrived upon it with their ground-breaking debut album, ‘Diadem Of 12 Stars’, way back in 2006. The Weaver brothers came at Black Metal from a decidedly environmentally-conscious perspective and I believe they once dwelled (perhaps still do?) in a self-sustaining farm compound of sorts where they produced their own food and forged an independent existence far removed from the ills of the modern world or something.

Cascadian Black Metal was born and WITTR were the leaders of the nuevo-pagan pack, at one with nature, the lakes, the mountains, the forests and the ancient spirits. As well as their noble, stand-up image, the music was also excellent. It was an exciting departure for the sub-subgenre but, alas, as they (d)evolved and those dreaded female vocals that almost wrecked my head came more and more to the fore, the band’s albums gradually deteriorated and they became almost irrelevant, hitting rock bottom with the fifth full-length whose name escapes me (and I won’t be looking it up because it’s not worth the hassle).

Then ‘Thrice Woven’ dropped this year.

Comprising four lengthy offerings and the fleeting (thankfully, perhaps, as the female singing is back…) ‘Mother Owl, Father Ocean’, these two records are majestic. Everything atmospheric Black Metal can – and should – be. With Steve Von Till of Neurosis on guest vocals ‘The Old Ones Are With Us’ is the obvious centrepiece of the album but, the more I listen to them. the more I enjoy all four of the main tracks.

Comes in a sumptuous gatefold jacket with a beautiful booklet (and lyrics) included, the records spinning at 45rpm for optimal audio playback quality and maximum payback. This will cost you more than most other double LPs due to the limited distribution, but is worth every cent. An astounding exhibit of mystical art that may have been better without the superfluous fourth song, which I am prepared to forgive as I think they may have stuck in it there specifically to piss me off. I refuse to take the bait this time.

Evilometer: 666/666

SVARTSYN – IN DEATH LP (Agonia Records)

Thursday, December 28th, 2017

Svartsyn - In Death LPNineteen years since unleashing his debut full-length under the Svartsyn banner, Ornias delivered his ninth album and first in four years amid zero brouhaha, hype or acknowledgement. Criminally under-rated, Svartsyn has been consistently dropping high-quality Black Metal literally for decades now to virtually no acclaim.

The latest humble offering, ‘In Death’, is a mesmerising record, for some reason flying so far below the Black Metal hype radar that it almost disappeared into utter obscurity. A fact which tells us all we need to know about the vast majority of sheepshits listening to Black Metal these days…

The millennial mongs seeking underground delights will crave it like an elixir of life if it surfaces on the latest flavour-of-the-month label, limited to 100 copies and discussed to death on a forum somewhere, like a horde of rabid bitches fantasising about a thigh bone and yearning to outgun one another by getting in there first and posting a picture of the record – or their distro receipt – on Instagram.

Yet, staggeringly, they’ll almost universally ignore a true gem of astonishing quality that showcases integrity and substance over bullshit.

The fact that this record – which was released in June – is still available on the official Svartsyn Facebook page for a mere €12 is difficult to fathom. But why buy an excellent album and listen to it on your own and stay the fuck quiet about how trendy you are when you can – perhaps – get a sub-standard record that’s somehow trendy all of a sudden and gloat about it and take photos to impress your peers?

It’s a sad, sad day for Black Metal when factors other than the quality of records is dictating whether or not people (pricks) buy them.

Evilometer: 666/666

TETRAGRAMMACIDE – PRIMAL INCINERATORS OF MORAL MATRIX LP (Iron Bonehead Productions)

Tuesday, December 26th, 2017

Tetragrammacide - Primal Incinerators Of Moral MatrixThe vinyl edition of Tetragrammacide’s debut full-length is a thing of true pummeling beauty. Buttressed by a strong gatefold jacket including bountiful booklet and the obligatory poster, ‘Primal Incinerators Of Moral Matrix’ is certainly a record that merits a place in any self-disrespecting collection. It looks supreme and sounds even better.

As solid a hybrid of crushing, chaotic Black / Death Metal (complete with batshit lyrics and delightfully odd interludes) as you could wish to witness, this album is subtly more accessible than ‘Typhonian Wormholes: Indecipherable Anti-Structural Formulæ’; twice as long; and thrice as nice. Crushing.

Evilometer: 666/666