Friday, September 21, 2018 12:45

Posts Tagged ‘Agonia Records’

AOSOTH – V: THE INSIDE SCRIPTURES LP (Agonia Records)

Friday, March 16th, 2018

Aosoth - V The Inside Scriptures LPAosoth’s fifth and final strike is a monstrous slab of murky Black Metal disdainfully forced through a decidedly Death Metal funnel – or dare I say portal? – to create an uncompromising boot to the spatial solar plexus.

The audacious auditory assault that is ‘V: The Inside Scriptures’ is a manifestation of disgust, despair and indignation that gives me hope. Hope that the planet will be cleansed of the filth of humanity. Soon.

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

VI – DE PRAESTIGIIS ANGELORUM LP (Agonia Records)

Friday, February 26th, 2016

VI - De Praestigiis AngelorumDe Praestigiis Angelorum’ is the debut full-length from Black Metal ensemble VI, veterans of the French scene with previous experience ripping off faces in bands like Antaeus and Aosoth, to name a couple. Unsurprisingly, they have hit the ground running.

This nice-looking record – which comes in a gatefold jacket with lyrics included (en Français) – is like a 200kmph car crash between Deathspell Omega and Fell Voices; blistering and dexterous as all fuck, but imbued with just enough nuance and melody to keep things interesting.

The first five or six times I listened to ‘De Praestigiis Angelorum’, I thought it was a good-to-decent effort, no more than that. Having persevered for a change, the rewards are bountiful. Superb stuff, despite my continued reservations about the befuddlingly-quizzical lyrical message of the orthodox movement.

Evilometer: 555/666

HYPOTHERMIA – SVARTKONST LP (Agonia Records)

Sunday, August 9th, 2015

Hypothermia - SvartkonstSvartkonst’ translates from Swedish to English – very loosely –  as ‘Smartcunts’. I’ve always been a fan of Hypothermia and have collected pretty much all his / their releases on vinyl. However, if I’m being truthful with myself (and why wouldn’t I be?), I’m just collecting them for the sake of it at this stage, to keep the collection going…

The trailblazing depressive Black Metal quotient of old is gone utterly and has been replaced by shit instrumental rock. Pure shit all the way. Rubbish. You’ll find as much Black Metal on a Radiohead or Mumford & Sons album, i.e. none at all.

The transformation from seminal underground act to putrid Do Make Say Think wannabes has been completed. (By the way, I realise Hypothermia doesn’t pretend or aspire to be a Black Metal band. This is not the source of my criticism. My objection isn’t that they’re not Black Metal; it’s that they also happen to be crap.)

Evilometer: 000/666

INFERNAL WAR – AXIOM LP (Agonia Records)

Saturday, July 11th, 2015

Infernal War - AxiomIs this album derivative? Yes. Have we heard it all before? Hell, yes. Does it bring anything remotely new to the table? No, sir. Will I be listening to it at least once a week for the rest of my shallow and pointless life? Fuck, no.

Axiom’ is high-paced, frenetic, face-ripping, unfrilled, Polish Black Metal smashed forth through the speakers with venom and intent. Eleven songs that swirl together into one another amid a disorientating maelstrom of absolute samesoundingness.

It’s Black Metal, pure and simple. Very good Black Metal (if, perhaps a little too cleanly-produced). No dumb female vocals included on this one, fuckers. Comes in a gatefold jacket, with a huge booklet.

Evilometer: 555/666

ENTHRONED – SOVEREIGNS LP (Agonia Records)

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Enthroned - SovereignsHaving undergone a dizzying amount of line-up changes and personal setbacks, Enthroned should probably no longer be relevant. That’s usually how it works…  In fairness, nobody could have faulted mainman Nornagest for throwing in the towel ages ago. Instead, some twenty (!) years down the line, Enthroned is back with yet another new cast and a tenth full-length album.

For my money, ‘Sovereigns’ also happens to be Enthroned’s best record to date bar none.

Now sharing a member with Nightbringer (not a bad way to keep things relevant), the Belgian blitzkrieg blasts through eight new outlandish offerings plus an intro in just over 40 minutes. Surprisingly, this album manages to top the amazing ‘Obsidium’ from two years ago and the vinyl version comes in a glorious gatefold jacket with 12×12 inlay.

Not many bands can manage to pull off that all-too-elusive, truly angry and evil sound as effectively and convincingly as Enthroned. Some nice dynamics and variation add to the enjoyment quotient on a stunning release.

Evilometer: 666/666

AOSOTH – IV: ARROW IN HEART 2LP (Agonia Records)

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

Aosoth - IV Arrow In HeartFirst off, I must note that including a Braille sheet with the vinyl edition of Aosoth’s fourth full-length album was / is a fucking ridiculous idea. Seriously, what in fuck’s name is the point of that? I cannot see (no pun intended) why any band would want to do this. A proper inlay card with lyrics, pictures etc. would make much more sense seeing as the vast majority of Black Metal fans are not blind (I confidently assume).

A really, really dumb decision, that one. Stupid and pretentious in the extreme. Products for blind people are WORTHLESS to able-bodied individuals. What next – a hearing aid with the fifth Aosoth album? Or a discount voucher offering money off a wheelchair? As you can tell, I was more than a little pissed when I pulled that sheet out of the gatefold cover!

Thankfully, the actual album itself is fantastic. Musically (which is what really counts, of course), it’s impossible to go wrong with Aosoth, who rarely put a foot wrong and have banged out yet another addictive brew of harsh blackness and wicked melody. There’s a welcome degree of variety at work across the full duration of ‘IV: Arrow In Heart’, a release which is by and large captivating.

The infuriatingly catchy songs are very cleverly constructed and executed, while the inclusion of a thoroughly-cool, ambient, droning bonus track on Side D (as opposed to nothing at all or, worse still, a damned etching…) scoops back the brownie points lost over that silly sheet of blind man’s paper that 99% of you surely will not want or appreciate. All in all, though, this is great stuff and the sprawling extra track pushes the already-generous running time well past the hour mark. Kudos.

Evilometer: 555/666

ENDEZZMA – EROTIK NEKROSIS LP (Agonia Records)

Friday, February 15th, 2013

I believe this was the last album that the late Trondr Nefas (Urgehal, Beastcraft, Angst Skvadron) performed on. If so, it’s a historic release. The Norwegian band Endezzma delivers fairly atypical Black Metal with an almost cosmic feel intruding at times. There are occasions along the way when I’m almost reminded of Sigh except ‘Erotik Nekrosis’ is much more old school and, well, authentic.

There’s a strong sense of melody running through the seven songs (plus intro), with prominent lead guitars very much to the forefront. Drums are unobtrusive but adequate; the bass sometimes fleetingly reveals itself; vocals / rasps are solid and unspectacular. In fact, that’s a pretty good description of the album as a whole: solid but unspectacular.

There are some cool and unusual moments on  ‘Erotik Nekrosis’ and the musicianship is certainly impressive. The record is professionally finished with inlay including lyrics etc. and the mid-paced Black Metal on offer is far from run-of-the-mill, thanks largely to the sprinkling here and there of keyboards. At times it soars close to greatness. But this isn’t a brilliant album by any stretch of the imagination.

Evilometer: 444/666

NIGHTBRINGER / ACHERONTAS – THE RUINS OF EDOM LP (Agonia Records)

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

I bought this split LP mainly for the Nightbringer side, as I’m not especially a huge fan of Acherontas (despite the rave reviews appearing elsewhere). However, I am pleased to report that the two offerings vomited forth by the Greek combo in this instance are devilishly impressive. Throw in the by-now-guaranteed solid contribution from Nightbringer and ‘The Ruins Of Edom’ is a definite winner.

Previous exposure to Acherontas led me to believe they were overly melodic and almost pompous in a puke-y Summoning sort of way, but I detect little of this on the ambitious eight-minute harsh Black Metal work-out ‘Layil’. The ensuing ‘Reverence For The Scarlet Goddess’ is atmospheric and keyboard-driven, something akin to what I had believed Acherontas was all about before entry, but in fairness it’s more an ambient masterpiece than an exercise in pomposity. Perhaps I will have to revise my opinion of this particular band…

Nightbringer delivers two typically-convoluted tracks of intelligent, wordy, philosophical Black Metal, bookended by a couple of clever instrumentals / ambient passages, proving once more that they are one of the United States’ premier proponents of the occult. Truly brilliant stuff that gets better with each listen. I would recommend purchasing this record for the Nightbringer presentations alone (as I did), but the Acherontas tunes arrived as a pleasant surprise.

Even though the whole thing signs off in little over 30 minutes, ‘The Ruins Of Edom’ is probably as fine a split release as you’re likely to acquire these days, imbued with a menacing atmosphere and cased within a lovely cover with lyrics and additional artwork printed on the inner sleeve. A lovely record, all told.

Evilometer: 555/666

SVARTSYN – THE TRUE LEGEND LP (Agonia Records)

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

First off, I must confess to being unfamiliar with the original incarnation of this album, which was spawned back in 1998 and, by the band’s admission, wasn’t blessed with the sound quality and production techniques it merits. (When has that ever been a problem in Black Metal before?!) So, with the benefit of hindsight, they’ve reissued their much-celebrated debut, with a totally new sound, partial re-recording and a modified track list (trimmed from eight songs to seven). The result is extremely impressive.

As a stand-alone, new album – even overlooking the fact that it is a reissue – ‘The True Legend’ 2012-style sounds like a genuine classic. The vinyl version also looks fantastic, with superb retro artwork, and lyrics etc. included on the inner sleeve. The music captures perfectly that all-too-elusive ancient feel (for obvious reasons), an homage to death and misanthropy executed with panache and precision and now revealed in all its glory as originally intended.

The balance between murky and clear, between raw and crisp, is spot-on; this is simply seven cuts of prime Scandinavian BM re-excavated and regurgitated for your insatiable listening pleasure. It’s not every day that a classic Black Metal album is reinvented. While my natural inclination is to be cynical about these kind of releases (the Burzum re-workings were pathetic, for example), it would be churlish of me to say anything negative about ‘The True Legend’ reborn. Wonderful stuff!

Evilometer: 555/666

ENTHRONED – OBSIDIUM LP (Agonia Records)

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

Enthroned truly is a strange beast. Active since 1994, they’ve released a grand total of nine full-lengths including this current one. But, who exactly is they? None of the original members remain in the band. Indeed, the line-up now is totally different to that which unleashed the awesome debut ‘Prophecies Of Pagan Fire’.

Frontman Nornagest, who joined in 1995 (shortly after the aforementioned ‘POPF’ was recorded) and who handles vocals and guitars, seems to be the one who has held the Belgian troupe together through good and bad times. They’ve certainly had their lows over the years (including the death by suicide of founding member Cernunnos in ’97), but ‘Obsidium’ is arguably their finest hour (or 40 minutes, to be precise).

My expectations for this album weren’t too high, to be honest. Its predecessor ‘Pentagrammaton’ was a real disappointment and suggested to me that Enthroned were a spent force, happy to just go through the motions and survive on their moderately-cult status. How wrong was I? Two years later, they have followed one of their weakest releases with one of their strongest. Tired and washed up? Too old? Irrelevant? Fuck no.

While Enthroned never stray far from the template of pure evil, neck-breaking, pedal-to-the-metal Black Metal, they do what they do so well that they really are a joy to behear when they hit form like this. It would be easy for dyed-in-the-wool scene veterans to dismiss ‘Obsidium’, to just say ‘I’ve heard it all before’, but if you’ve already listened to this album and written it off I suggest you give it another spin and ask yourself how often have you heard blasting, in-your-face BM performed with such passion, panache and skill.

An atmosphere of old-fashioned devil-may-care badness prevails throughout and the production is pretty damn perfect, letting every blow through in just the right measure. For prime, unsophisticated black carnage with a fantastic sound, some face-melting guitar-work, drumming like the end of time and a feral spirit at its very core – all cased in a hard black shell – look no further. On ‘Obsidium’ the old guard have laid down a bold marker, defiantly showing the pretenders to their throne how this shit is done.

The result is a lethal, devastating exhibition of Black Metal ferocity with the merest hints of atmosphere and melody. By the way, it would be remiss of me not to point out how utterly magnificent and disturbing the seventh incantation of nine, ‘Petraolevm Saliva’, is… Or that ‘Thy Blight Vacuum’ is nigh on the best closing track an album of this ilk has ever showcased. Agonia has done an excellent job with the (180g) vinyl edition, which includes a 12×12 inner sheer with lyrics / pics etc. – a nice touch.

Evilometer: 555/666