Monday, December 10, 2018 03:03

Posts Tagged ‘Ancient Records’


Wednesday, August 1st, 2018

Ancient Records - Demo Compilation IIIt’s almost five years since I reviewed the lucky dip that was ‘Demo Compilation Part 1’ and a lot of piss has steamed beneath the Ancient Records bridge since then, most notably the public spat between Sir N., who is credited with all the material on that particular release, and Swartadauþuz, who wrote and performed the music – in conjunction with lyricist / vocalist Likpredikaren (Demonomantic / Summum) – on the substantially-better follow-up being contemplated right now.

This massive double-LP – housed in a classy gatefold jacket, with all the lyrics included – is essentially a collection of unused and “mostly unreleased” material written and recorded between 2007 and 2016; subsequently remixed and remastered at Afgrundsmysticism Studios in 2017.

Swartadauþuz could certainly never be accused of over-selling himself. Considering that he regards many of his best albums as mere demos and that the tracks on this release are off-cuts that just about saw the dark of night, it’s hard not to admire his dedication to the black arts.

There’s a real mixed bag of material on ‘Demo Compilation Part II’ that hints at most of the best bands associated with this inimitable Swedish madman. Nineteen songs in total and, surprisingly in this age of cunts, still widely available at the original asking price.

Evilometer: 666/666


Thursday, May 18th, 2017

Trolldom - Av Gudablod Röd...This one is from the enigmatic Ancient Records stable although, for some reason, it’s credited as an independent release rather than being attributed to either of the cult Ancient Records / Afgrundsvisioner, Mysticism Productions or Nordisk Kultur imprints.

I think there was some sort of rift in the camp so I’m not sure what the status of the label(s) is but that hardly matters as the music is still surfacing (unfortunately, in the case of this one).

(Since changed to Nordisk Kultur on Metal Archives…)

I’ve noted before how these releases are hit and miss and ‘Av Gudablod Röd’ is very much in the latter department: a cock-eyed, eye-off-the-ball, glaring miss – miles off the target, so far wide it’s gone out for a throw-in – comprising two lengthy offerings of wishy-washy, keyboard-driven, mid-paced, sugary, symphonic, raw-ish, medieval-sounding pomposity that doesn’t qualify as Black Metal (surely?).

Swartadauþuz has delivered a lot of great records across his various guises; this isn’t one of them. Don’t panic if you’ve missed out on Trolldom’s debut release. It’s aimed at fairies. Nothing of interest happening here. Ventures way too far down the atmospheric path for my liking. A shocker, really.

Evilometer: 000/666

GRAV – OMHULDA ONDSKANS KRETSLOPP LP (Ancient Records / Afgrundsvisioner)

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

Grav - Omhulda Ondskans KretsloppUnless I’m getting (handsomely) paid, I’m not inclined to write much about anything; well, ‘Omhulda Ondskans Kretslopp’ certainly doesn’t inspire me to get battering on the old computer keyboard. According to a note on the back cover, this 47-minute long demo was written and recorded in a total of 24 hours. Assuming this is true (which requires quite a stretch of the imagination), it shows.

To cut to the chase, the music on here is, for the most part, banal, bland, low-key, uninspired / uninspiring and underwhelming.

Afraid that I might miss out on something, I tend to gobble up Ancient Records’ limited-edition, vinyl-only releases but, with the benefit of hindsight, this one was a pointless purchase. Listening to the tedious, (laboured) slow- to (pompous) mid-paced ploddings going on here is tough going and – while ‘Omhulda Ondskans Kretslopp’ isn’t necessarily terrible – it also isn’t particularly good. Nor is it Black Metal, as far as I’m concerned, which renders it even more redundant.

When I listen to this record (which won’t happen too many more times, I assure you – if at all), I feel like I’m going to slip into a coma. Then I remember how much money I spent on it and my offended senses return with a vengeance.

Evilometer: 111/666


Monday, August 12th, 2013

Ancient Records - Demo Compilation Part OneA couple of minutes into my first listen to this record, I was starting to suspect that it represented a serious misjudgement in the quality control department at Ancient Records. ‘Demo Compilation Part 1’ collates material that would otherwise never have been released (in other words, rejects that have been scooped up off the cutting-room floor!) and sticks it onto a 12” record for the entertainment of the small handful of people who might give a fuck. Smell a rat?

I didn’t know any of this when I parted with my considerable quantity of cash (it’s printed on the record sleeve). There was no information anywhere regarding what exactly this release comprised. Had I known it was merely glorified out-takes, I might have given it a wide berth. But, lacking inside information, my curiosity got the better of me and I travelled bravely via Paypal seeking a possible gem…

Sir N. of Acerbitas, Grifteskymfning, Grav (review of ‘Omhulda Ondskans Kretslopp’ LP coming soon), Hädanfärd and Svartrit performs the music (I use the word very loosely) here but the material obviously doesn’t fit within the concept of any of those bands as none of them are credited with it. There are basically two long compositions, one on each side (doh!), which are neither music nor songs. Nor Black Metal, for that matter. More like a mindset … expressions of hate and dismay, angst and horror. The soundtrack to a nightmare. Resident Evil with a pocketful of Rohypnol.

It’s truly sinister work; spontaneous, freeform and unrehearsed. A wall of crazy noise with some equally-disturbing calmer sections that some will feel should never have been released – while others might find in it something unique and special.

Personally, having got over the total shit-ness of the opening moments (both in terms of sound and composition), I’m very much in the latter camp. Definitely not for everybody, though and these curios are far from cheap, so approach with caution.

Evilometer: 444/666

HÄDANFÄRD – SMUTSIGA SINNEN LP (Ancient Records / Afgrundsvisioner)

Saturday, August 3rd, 2013

Hädanfärd - Smutsiga SinnenThe incredibly-prolific Ancient Records has just released a new batch of albums – all on vinyl, as ever – and one of these is Hädanfärd’s debut full-length, ‘Smutsiga Sinnen’. The same two guys are generally behind literally everything this label produces and it’s the usual suspects here again, with Sir N the one-man visionary behind Hädanfärd and his partner-in-crime Swartadathuz overseeing the release as label head honcho.

It’s impossible not to admire the industry and underground ethos of everything they do. But, away from the back-slapping and arse-licking, the music is – for the most part – fascinating, too. While far from overwhelming, ‘Smutsiga Sinnen’ is a minor triumph in that it manages to weld fairly basic tunes with a Black Metal template of sorts to produce a unique listening experience: a mid-paced work of atmospheric and easily-accessible music that could just as easily be ‘80s pop (well, not quite…) but for the vocals.

At times, this is sickeningly melodic, but there is a deranged, crazed sense of dementia pervading the entire album that elevates it above your average melodic Black Metal offering. I also accept that without the melody, it couldn’t – and wouldn’t – work at all. Imagine what Woods Of Infinity would sound like if they weren’t actually complete and utter shite and you are somewhere close to understanding what Hädanfärd brings to the table.

Aesthetically, the artwork and presentation are top notch, making for a very pleasing release all round.

Evilometer: 444/666


Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

As you will gather from the warbling to follow, I have mixed emotions about this one, which seems to be both brilliant and rubbish at the same time. Is it possible for a record to be too cult? I appreciate a lot of what Ancient Records is doing but this one isn’t particularly hitting the spot for me.

Might have been better to leave ‘Demo 09’ alone as a cassette-only release. Records are bloody expensive things to buy and this one – intriguing and all as it is – doesn’t quite justify the expenditure.

I should probably qualify my review by pointing out that the music of Reverorum Ib Malacht on here is not Black Metal in any way, shape or form. Rather, some sort of creepy, chamber darkness with spoken chants and a horrible production resulting in a muddy sound that’s extremely frustrating. I have to turn the volume dial way UP on my stereo to hear this but still an overwhelming dullness permeates.

Having said that, I’m not one for crystal clear productions either so I do appreciate what’s going on here … to an extent … just feel that perhaps it goes a bit too far. It’s so dull that at times I feel like I’m listening to the record underwater – or with a dose of flu gripping my very essence – and it’s hard not to feel weary and dreary under these circumstances.

Also – call me petty! – there’s no track-listing included, which is somehow annoying and confusing as it appears to differ at least slightly from the running order of the original version. Is this not a basic requirement? ‘How different is it from the original?’ I wonder. ‘Where is the 29-minute song?’ ‘Was there ever one?’ I have no idea. All part of the mystery. And therein lies part of the charm of Reverorum Ib Malacht – mysterious, eerie, transcendental, non-conformist and utterly obscure.

Despite all my reservations and undoubted pettiness, I find it difficult not to admire the band and (almost) love the record. I realise this is just a demo and I understand and accept that it would have been ludicrous to alter the sound quality in any way. Preserved on vinyl, we have the exact sound reproduced in its original glory. Commendable. I applaud the integrity. (And I really hope that doesn’t sound condescending.)

I can see this record possibly growing on me as time goes by. For the time being, however, the duller-than-dishwater, way-too-analogue-for-its-own-good sound leaves me feeling indifferent.

Evilometer: 444/666

GRIFTESKYMFNING – DEMO 08 LP (Ancient Records / Afgrundsvisioner)

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Another collaborative effort from two labels that have really stolen my attention in recent months, ‘Demo 08’ manages to exceed expectations. I didn’t know before purchasing this record that there were no vocals on it (at least, if there are any, I can’t hear them!) and – if truth be told – that knowledge would probably have resulted in me giving it a miss. I mean, who wants arty-farty instrumentals?

However, my ignorance has been rewarded as Grifteskymfning – a band whose name I will never be able to spell – delivers a superb collection of five subtle, warped, repetitive tunes on this album (it’s underground music we are dealing with so don’t let the word Demo put you off).

In many respects, the music is reminiscent of Blut Aus Nord, except more low key and understated, perhaps a little rougher around the edges (with a measure of Hypothermia and Urfaust and fucking Hawkwind thrown into the mix. Maybe). It’s hard to say whether the inclusion of trademark shrill Black Metal vocals fluctuating in the background would have enhanced the songs – my gut instinct says they would – but as it is, ‘Demo 08’ is a great, trippy slab of instrumental dark art that’s well worth checking out.

Move quickly, though – for some reason these labels restrict their releases to frustratingly small limitations (a mere 250 units of this one, I believe, and already sold out at source, but still available in some distros).

Evilometer: 555/666


Thursday, December 27th, 2012

Not sure what to say about this one. Is it a gimmick or a work of pure genius? Perhaps I’m too dumb to know the difference. No information is given on the artist(s), though I’m of the uneducated understanding that there is some form of connection with Reverorum ib Malacht. There are no song titles, no album title, nothing. Zilch. Nada. Fuck all. Just a black record in a black sleeve with the catalogue number printed on the back (AR013). So all we can focus on is the music

I don’t even know which is Side A and which is Side B. So I just lob it on and hope for the best. A racket ensues. Chaotic drumming roars through the speakers. The drums are so prominent in the mix that I’m wondering is this just a drum rehearsal. Way in the background, there are occasional howls and screams, the vaguely-discernible sound of what might be guitars. A barrage of noise. Carnage. My head throbs.

It’s just pummel, pummel, pummel, pummel all the way. The drummer is in a bad mood. As I said at the beginning, I have no idea what to make of this record. Have I paid €18 for a pile of shit? Am I myself a pile of shit? What has this got to do with Black Metal? What have I got to do with Black Metal? Where does madness end and sanity begin? WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS? And where do I file it in my library?

Evilometer: ???/666

ACERBITAS – URKAOSETS SVARTA VREDESDOM MLP (Afgrundsvisioner / Ancient Records)

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

For a MLP, this is very generously endowed, clocking in at around 37 minutes (an intro, an outro and four songs proper). Recorded in 2009, ‘Urkaosets Svarta Vredesdom’ wasn’t released on CD until 2011 and didn’t see the light of day on vinyl until June of this year (due to “issues with previous labels”).

It’s been a long wait for those who knew the album was imminent (nobody, probably) but it has arguably been worth every minute because Acerbitas proves itself to be something really special on this debut release, written a whopping seven years ago.

Urkaosets Svarta Vredesdom’ comprises mid-paced, swirling, haunting Black Metal, a gradual maelstrom that slowly and deliberately wraps its tendrils around you, sucking you in, crushing the life from you and leaving you in a state of bliss (i.e. dead). Sir N. (also of Grav, Svartrit and Dödfödd, to name just a few) is the lone operator behind this project and he proves himself to be a very talented ghoul, with a real ear for conjuring just the right atmosphere of darkness and decay.

This is a very easy review to write. Great music that has been done justice by its vinyl incarnation, of the underground yet undeniably accessible, ‘Urkaosets Svarta Vredesdom’ is probably a record that all Black Metal fans should investigate. Shame the bonus track from the CD wasn’t included on the record, though.

Evilometer: 555/666


Friday, November 2nd, 2012

This rather amazing record was released over a year ago, but somehow it slipped right under my radar. I’ve luckily managed to get my hands on a copy this week and I’ve been listening to ‘De Dunkla Herrarna’ around the clock since the bountiful parcel arrived. To say that Bekëth Nexëhmü’s debut full-length is stunning would be an exercise in understatement..

De Dunkla Herrarna’ is actually classified as a Demo LP (???) but to be honest it is vastly superior to pretty much everything else I’ve been listening to lately. The album was recorded in just five days in February 2010 and comprises over 47 minutes of majestic, chilly, atmospheric Black Metal. There’s a lot of melody at work and blastbeats are totally eschewed in favour of slow- to mid-paced observations backboned by drums that genuinely sound like they were recorded in an ice cave.

The record itself keeps the DIY aesthetic of the underground alive as there’s no actual jacket, just a front and back 12” x 12” card and there’s a lyric sheet included but that’s gobbledegook to me. This record is mysterious, authentic, ancient yet ageless cold, cold, cold BM magic from the darkest shores of Sweden. If you don’t somehow get your hands on one of the 250 copies pressed, your life will be forever incomplete.

Evilometer: 666/666