Thursday, March 23, 2017 06:16

Archive for the ‘Death’ Category

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.)

YSENGRIN / SARTEGOS – RESVRREZIONESPIRITVAL LP (I, Voidhanger Records)

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

Ysengrin Sartegos - ResvrrezionespiritvalSincerely hope I spelt that correctly. Ysengrin is now halfway through a quadrilogy of split releases, which to date have proven to be a very enjoyable distraction from everyday worries about death and decay and blood irons and all the shit that becomes a reality as you age and move ominously closer to the ground.

The delightfully-racist-sounding “Nigrum Nigrius Nigro’ paired the French three-piece with Chilean counterparts Black Grail and was really excellent. I thought I reviewed it but can’t locate any such thing so I either imagined it or my blog is as corrupt as your typical aid worker. Spanish one-piece Sartegos provides the counterpoint on ‘Resvrrezionespiritval’ and, again, it’s a terrific release.

I’ve no idea what the theme or concept behind this series of unions is but the enthusiasm, passion, sincerity and authenticity of both acts shines through here and the record is immensely enjoyable despite its low-key and understated status.

Evilometer: 666/666

VOID MEDITATION CULT – UTTER THE TONGUE OF THE DEAD LP (Hells Headbangers Records)

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

Void Meditation Cult - Utter The Tongue Of The DeadFulfilling the abundant promise hinted at by ‘Sulfurous Prayers Of Blight And Darkness’, Void Meditation Cult’s debut full-length is a predictably excellent exercise in pitch black, devilish, death worship … crude and vulgar yet hypnotic and about as forgettable as a bout of good old-fashioned child sacrifice.

Mostly mid-paced, ‘Utter The Tongue Of The Dead’ buzzes along with immense intent and conviction. In many ways, it’s the epitome of what underground Black / Death Metal is all about. I could peddle all the usual double-negative adjectives and superlatives in a futile endeavour to try to highlight how much fun the record is, but instead I’ll suggest that you check this out for yourself on Bandcamp before, inevitably, placing an order for a physical copy.

Housed in a gatefold jacket with all lyrics printed inside. And plenty of copies have been pressed, so no need to stress yourself over the first-world problem that increasingly perturbs us all.

Evilometer: 666/666

KRYPTS – REMNANTS OF EXPANSION LP (Dark Descent Records)

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

Krypts - Remnants Of ExpansionIt may be only 34 minutes long (five tracks) but Krypts’ second full-length sure packs one hell of a sledgehammer punch to the temple. ‘Remnants Of Expansion’ is one of the most punishing and addictive Death Metal albums of recent years and is worthy of multiple repeat listens.

For crushing, mid-paced Death Metal imbued with a subtle hint of crude melody, this cannot be topped.

Eleven-minute cenotaph ‘Arrow of Entropy’ sets the tone and Krypts’ mesmerising magic just keeps reeling you in all the way through to the aptly-named epitaph, ‘Transfixed’. A monumental release in every way and one that was born for the vinyl format.

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.

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

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

PHOBOCOSM – BRINGER OF DROUGHT LP (Dark Descent Records)

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

phobocosm-bringer-of-droughtPhobocosm’s second full-length, ‘Bringer Of Drought’, sees them drop gear somewhat to emit four harrowing, ominous slabs totaling 35 minutes. Slow, doomy passages add to the sense of crushing haplessness as the earth swallows us whole, venting its fury through quakes and floods, turning all to dust.

Twelve inches of black wax inside a gatefold sleeve somehow survive to tell the tale of nature’s retribution.

Evilometer: 555/666

BLACK DEVOTION – CEREMONIAL RITUALS OF DEMONIC CHAOS LP (Astral Nightmare Productions)

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

Black Devotion - Ceremonial Rituals Of Demonic Chaos

Black Devotion’s debut full-length, ‘Ceremonial Rituals Of Demonic Chaos’, is one that’s been flying well below the radar for about a year now but deserves a lot more attention than what it’s been afforded.

Without hype or the support of a clever, well-connected label, many great underground releases just disappear into obscurity and this is one such effort.

There’s half an hour’s worth of solid Death / Black Metal on here, featuring the eminent Nocturnus Dominus of Unhuman Disease infamy, and I believe it’s well worth checking out, especially if you can’t get enough of Archgoat and their ilk in your life.

Evilometer: 555/666

HOWLS OF EBB – CURSUS IMPASSE: THE PENDLOMIC VOWS LP (Nuclear War Now! Productions)

Saturday, August 20th, 2016

Howls of Ebb - Cursus Impasse The Pendlomic VowsSometimes the easiest reviews to write are also the most difficult ones. ‘Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows’ is a staggering album but it is so complex, ambitious and out there that I would struggle to come up with a description or analysis that would do it justice. So I’m not even going to try (all that much).

As a general rule, I abhor anything that’s even remotely technical or progressive, yet Howls Of Ebb undoubtedly fall into both of those categories. The seven tracks (42 minutes) on offer on their second full-length are anything but straightforward, coming across as a more challenging, supple and sinuous Portal; more angular, more disjointed but at the same time still more accessible due to the disinfected production, complete lack of murkiness and the (impressive, for a change) technical prowess of the musicians (something I usually run a mile from).

A wankfest admittedly but it’s all rather astonishing and there is so much going on that each repeat listen brings a whole new experience. The inclusion of a sumptuous booklet and poster seal the deal on an all-round winner that succeeds partly because it dares to be different – a dangerous road populated by the corpses of so many who have tried in vain to get the balance right but fallen on their own swords while I sneered contemptuously.

Evilometer: 666/666

ELLORSITH / MANNVEIRA – ELLORSITH / MANNVEIRA MLP (Dark Descent Records)

Saturday, August 20th, 2016

Ellorsith Mannveira - Ellorsith MannveiraFantastic stuff here courtesy of two proper underground acts – Ellorsith from Canada and Mannveira from Iceland. The former offer another conceptual piece of work, this time centred around the story of Jerome of Sandy Cove, while the Reykjavík-ians(?) also submit two stellar tracks.

In total, we get less than 27 minutes of music. But it’s great music and well worthy of your money.

Evilometer: 555/666

TEMPLE NIGHTSIDE – THE HECATOMB LP (Iron Bonehead Productions)

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

Temple Nightside - The HecatombThere’s a brilliant collective of Australian artists toiling away in the darkest depths of the underground making some of the most amazing music in the world right now. Between Ill Omen, Vassafor, Sinistrous Diabolus, Grave Upheaval and the tremendous Temple Nightside (to name just a handful of the more prominent parties in the cooperative), it’s a veritable Black / Death Motown down there. These bands are all utterly fantastic, so much so that one could almost survive on Australian occult metal alone.

Temple Nightside’s second full-length, ‘The Hecatomb’ ups the ante, if anything. Oppressive, ritualistic and decidedly despondent, it’s hard to fathom how an album like this can leave the listener feeling so elevated. This is a celebration of darkness that will drag you so low into the mire that you become stripped of all hope and reborn in your natural state – one of utter despair.

Once you accept the worthlessness of yourself and everything around you and embrace the absolute certainty of death, you are free. Free to enjoy what little time you have left. Much of which could be spent listening to this sublime record – embellished with a gatefold sleeve, eight-page A4 booklet and poster – over and over again.

Play it to death.

Evilometer: 666/666

INFERNAL CURSE – APOCALIPSIS LP (Iron Bonehead Productions)

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

Infernal Curse - ApocalipsisInfernal Curse’s second full-length, ‘Apocalipsis’, surfaced on vinyl earlier this year and it’s a heady brew indeed, laden with pummeling, primitive, bestial Death Metal and a dark, oppressive Black Metal vibe that places it somewhere between Revenge and Portal without necessarily sounding like either or.

The Argentinians have forged their own brand of suffocating, dense, smothering but somewhat exotic Black / Death and it’s utterly devastating. Not quite as harsh as Genocide Shrines perhaps but suitably headfucking nevertheless.

I needed to remove some varnish from a window board and I blasted this beast out at high volume for a couple of hours and it did the trick. Unfortunately it also removed most of the skin from my children’s faces.

The consolation for them is that there’s a lovely booklet and inner jacket included and they can maybe play with those if they want when their wounds heal.

Evilometer: 666/666

IRKALLIAN ORACLE – APOLLYON 2LP (Nuclear War Now!)

Monday, April 25th, 2016

Irkallian Oracle - ApollyonGrave Ekstasis’ was a stunning debut and Irkallian Oracle’s follow-up, ‘Apollyon’, is utterly monumental. This time, we get 57 minutes of monolithic Black / Death(-Doom) that would serve as the ideal soundtrack to an all-consuming earthquake or slow-motion tsunami. It’s the sound of a natural disaster. Lovely.

The understated, cavernous production – which mostly lets the (hypnotic, persistent) drums and vocals dominate while everything else is consigned into a gloriously murky quagmire – gives rise to a somewhat different beast than that presented on the predecessor – the result is devastating.

Apart from the nonsensical etching on Side D (I hate those), this album is immense. Listening experiences do not get more intense, more unnerving or more exhilarating. Who’d have thought that music that makes you feel like both your eardrums are perforated could be so rewarding?

Evilometer: 666/666

RITUAL CHAMBER – OBSCURATIONS (TO FEAST ON THE SERAPHIM) 2LP (Profound Lore Records)

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Ritual Chamber - Obscurations (To Feast On The Seraphim)There’s an hour’s worth of chilling one-man Death Metal on Ritual Chamber’s superb debut full-length, ‘Obscurations (To Feast On The Seraphim)’. To a large degree, this is Incantation worship but it also sounds fresh and vibrant and downright pretty fucking incredible.

To think that one man conceived and executed this monolith boggles my mind and, even when it veers into relatively disjointed terrain, I can still but nod my aging head in approval. The stunning double-vinyl edition includes a gatefold jacket and lyrics. Absolutely worthy of support.

Evilometer: 666/666