Thursday, May 25, 2017 20:04

Posts Tagged ‘Northern Heritage’

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

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

NÉCROPOLE – NÉCROPOLE LP (Northern Heritage Records)

Saturday, September 10th, 2016

necropole-necropoleNécropole’ gathers all material from the band’s two previous demos – ‘Atavisme…’ and ‘Ostara’ – onto one record to deliver 45 minutes in total of excellent underground Black Metal. Buzzing guitars and razorblade vocals abound, just the way we love it.

In the background, the unobtrusive yet impressive drums enhance the sinister melody that prevails. Side A is particularly great. All in all, this is good stuff from the guys who brought you Caverne.

Evilometer: 555/666

RIDE FOR REVENGE – AGELESS POWERS ARISE LP (Bestial Burst / Northern Heritage)

Monday, January 25th, 2016

Ride For Revenge - Ageless Powers AriseRide For Revenge return rather quickly with a fifth full-length and it would be fair to suggest that ‘Ageless Powers Arise’ continues pretty much along similar lines to the previous four. These guys have a style all of their own and their sound is one of the most instantly recognisable in Black Metal – demented, twisted, warped, slow-to-mid-paced sonic majesty with lots of drum, lots of bass and lots of noise.

This is another suitably fucked-up, trippy ride and it’s one that you should most certainly take. Each Ride For Revenge record is as mandatory as the last / next. For quality and consistency, RFR is hard to top. Record comes in a gatefold sleeve with lyrics (and quite a low sound, so you have to crank it way up).

Evilometer: 666/666

MGLA – EXERCISES IN FUTILITY LP (Northern Heritage / No Solace)

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Mgla - Exercises In FutilityOnce, when I was grappling with the greater mysteries of life, I started reading a book called ‘Straw Dogs’, wherein the author – a British philosopher called John Gray – contended that humans are no more than deluded animals with no real worth or value in the greater scheme of things.

Despite our pretensions to grandeur and an innate sense of self, we are a destructive, arrogant, fluke of a species, falsely believing that our ability to use language and reason grants us an elevated status and importance. Ultimately, the grim reality is that we are no different from apes, fish and dung beetles.

The human race essentially comprises walking, breathing piles of shit and our actions, thoughts and emotions are meaningless anomalies of the human condition. Everything we do is pointless. There is no victory at the end, only death and oblivion, the same fate that awaits every living thing.

Realising that there was no actual point or purpose to anything I do, I never finished the book – a conscious decision that is highly apt, in the humble opinion of my ego.

Mgla have a similar outlook on life. Their music bristles with negativity, nihilism, apathy and a sense of hopelessness. According to these justifiably-downbeat Poles, our very existences are a waste of time – exercises in futility. This is a stark, undeniable truth and the rather alarming subject matter helps to elevate Mgla to the higher echelons of modern art, never mind the Black Metal underground.

This is another astonishing volume of work from one of the truly great acts of our (waste of) time. And I had no problem getting to the end of the record.

Evilometer: 666/666

CLANDESTINE BLAZE – NEW GOLGOTHA RISING LP (Northern Heritage)

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

Clandestine Blaze - New Golgotha RisingClandestine Blaze has unleashed another belter with eighth full-length, ‘New Golgotha Rising’ – 39 more minutes of superb Finnish dark art courtesy of Black Metal legend Mikko Aspa. He probably won’t thank me for using that term but Mikko is a pure fucking legend and his work under the CB banner is arguably his best.

The seven odes to annihilation on this record are of the very highest calibre, reaffirming Clandestine Blaze’s status as one of the most consistently-brilliant one-man BM acts in the universe. It’s hard to imagine anyone with even a passing interest in Black Metal not appreciating this album for what it is – a straightforward blast of eradication laced with hatred and indifference.

The white vinyl sucks but everything else about this is monstrous.

Evilometer: 666/666

RIDE FOR REVENGE – ENTER THE GAUNTLET 2LP (Bestial Burst / Northern Heritage)

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Ride For Revenge - Enter The GauntletIt’s easy to review a Ride For Revenge LP so I will keep it short and sweet. ‘Enter The Gauntlet’ is another exhilarating contribution to add to a growingly-monstrous canon. At 73 minutes, it’s also by far and away the band’s longest full-length to date and the magnificent, demented 24-minute ‘The Fog Is Green And Pungent’ – which takes up all of Side B – has to be heard to be believed.

Everything RFR does is mandatory and this is more of the same trademark brilliance that I’ve come to know and love. No Watain- or Burzum-like departures up their own anuses to be found here. The double-vinyl edition comes in a gatefold home with lyrics included. Awesome stuff.

Evilometer: 666/666

SATANIC WARMASTER – STRENGTH AND HONOUR LP (Northern Heritage)

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Satanic Warmaster - Strength & HonourNorthern Heritage is in the process of reissuing some of the harder-to-get albums from its back catalogue. Amongst these is Satanic Warmaster’s legendary debut full-length, which was initially unleashed in 1991 and is now available to purchase on vinyl again.

One of the greatest Black Metal LPs ever recorded, available once more on glorious black wax: what the fuck are you waiting for? (By the way, I am reliably informed that some long-overdue Clandestine Blaze reissues are imminent…)

Evilometer: 666/666

CLANDESTINE BLAZE – HARMONY OF STRUGGLE LP (Northern Heritage)

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Clandestine Blaze - Harmony Of StruggleFuck me – has it really been three years since ‘Falling Monuments’? My life must be accelerating past at a ludicrous pace because I thought that album only came out about a year ago… Fuck it! Clandestine Blaze’s seventh full-length, ‘Harmony Of Struggle’ is again released on Mikko’s own label and – as with everything he has delivered under this handle – it is typically excellent.

Listening along to this album, I am struck by the sheer enormity of what an artist like Mikko Aspa manages to achieve with little or no help from anybody. His work is inspirational, unique, life-affirming and truly marvellous. As well as being immense and fierce, ‘Harmony Of Struggle’ is a very emotional album at times and the sound is often more ‘epic’ (for want of a better word) than what I’ve become accustomed to from Clandestine Blaze.

Very simply, you will not be disappointed if you decide to purchase this record. Composed and executed by an inspired individual who clearly knows what he’s doing – and who puts his experience and wherewithal to maximum use – ‘Harmony Of Struggle’ is a veritable tour de force, an exhibition of Black Metal mastery. A monument. I was going to say there were some truly magical moments to be found along the way but, to be fair, this is a magical journey from start to finish.

High calibre, flawless, grim, raw, astonishing Black Metal that oozes nastiness, filth and class and shits all over its peers (with interesting artwork; lyric sheet included, for those who care). Nothing more to say … this is an easy review to write and I am not one for throwing in superfluous superlatives or rambling prose just for the hell of it. If you want to be impressed, then open a new tab right now and buy this fucker.

Evilometer: 666/666

PHLEGEIN – SILVER VEINS LP (Northern Heritage)

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Phlegein’s debut album comes in a tasty-looking gatefold sleeve with some delightful artwork. It sure looks the part and that’s half the battle won straight away. First impressions and all that… Aesthetically, this is a fine product to own but the positives stop right there.

Musically, I was expecting something more. As standard Black Metal goes – or ‘Finnish Black Metal without compromise’ – I can’t find any obvious fault with ‘Silver Veins’ as it does precisely what it says on the tin. However: a quarter of an hour of monotonous, unadventurous, emotionless, banal, authentic BM is all fine and well, but does it really have to be this run-of-the-mill?

Obviously, all Black Metal sounds kind of alike anyway so it’s almost redundant to criticise an album for sounding all-too-familiar but my gripe is not necessarily relating to the monotony; more that this is, erm, let me think … boring, for want of a better word. To my ears, Phlegein are just plodding along, going through the motions, never quite arriving anywhere; directionless and rudderless.

I was expecting so much more from this album that I can’t help but feel disappointed. Having said that, it’s not Phlegein’s fault that I had high expectations of them and, to be fair, ‘Silver Veins’ still provides some good (but hardly great) Black Metal, even if you have heard it all a thousand times before (and often done much better than this).

Solid enough but lacking that x factor that separates the true ghouls from the men. “Nothing much happening here, folks, move along…”

Evilometer: 333/666

MUSTA SURMA / BLOODHAMMER / ANNIHILATUS – CHRISTIAN GENOCIDE LP (Northern Heritage)

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

This split brings together three fantastic hordes from the Finnish underground. Apparently, it took the best part of a decade to finally bring it to fruition, which is bizarre seeing as there’s only 37 minutes of music on offer. But ‘Christian Genocide’ is one of those events where I can excuse the unfortunate brevity of proceedings …  a rare triumph for quality over quantity.

I’d certainly like to have heard more of Musta Surma than an intro and one song – the fact that they only contribute seven minutes is a real disappointment (as this band only raises its head sporadically and is an entity I would love to hear a lot more of). Their all-too-brief but superb contribution is taken from their ‘Crushing The Holy Trinity’ session (I think). Also on Side A, we get three uncomplicated tunes from Bloodhammer, the best of which is closer, ‘Night After Night’.

Side B belongs to Annihilatus, a band which hates you and doesn’t want to be your friend. Intolerant of everybody equally, they wage war on jews, christians, hindus, blacks and whites with great enthusiasm. The final excursion on the album is a collaboration between all three bands, who perform the title track in an almost medley fashion. I’m pretty confident from the composition / lyrical make-up of this song that it too was written by Annihilatus.

They want to put you – and me – in an oven.

Evilometer: 555/666

BAPTISM – AS THE DARKNESS ENTERS LP (Northern Heritage)

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Baptism’s fourth full-length leaves me with mixed / indifferent emotions: I do enjoy parts of it but there are also passages that I definitely don’t like and, alas, it bores me more and more each time I listen to it. Shame, really, because this is a great label, decent band (one that I should probably be supporting…) and the record is professionally presented.

Lord Sargofagian historically straddles a fine and treacherous line between rawness and melody (and I enjoyed his previous efforts) but, on this album, I fear he has ventured too far in the latter direction. There’s too much melody on ‘As The Darkness Enters’ and, even though it’s not a complete dud (far from it), this release is marred by the sickening niceness of songs like ‘The Prayer’ and – to a lesser extent – ‘Esoteric Spheres’, the former of which contains a couple of verses of truly cringe-worthy clean vocals.

All in all, to my ears, ‘As The Darkness Enters’ sounds more like Dimmu Borgir or Kampfar than I’m comfortable with. Even though the album is essentially reasonably good, I prefer Black Metal to be angry, crude, aggressive and more patently of the underground. Too much harmony on this one; it may be more subtle to some ears than what I’m detecting (I’m very sensitive to these things and possibly being overly-critical here), but it’s nonetheless very disappointing.

If you fancy some melancholic, sedate, laid-back, inoffensive, mid-paced Black Metal laced / loaded with nice melodies, look no further. But I won’t be delving any deeper into this one.

Evilometer: 222/666

MGLA – WITH HEARTS TOWARD NONE LP (Northern Heritage)

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

While the quality quotient was consistently high, I found that previous Mgla releases were always very short – and therefore ultimately unfulfilling – affairs. The new album isn’t exactly an epic, either, but there’s a bit more meat contained on the collective skeletons of these seven tunes than what I’ve become accustomed to … so I’ve no hesitation is declaring ‘With Hearts Toward None’ to be the Poles’ most complete offering yet.

The record is professionally manufactured and packaged, with all the song lyrics printed on the back of the outer sleeve / cover. I took time to read along whilst listening and found the lyrics to be refreshingly intelligent and thoughtful, particularly enjoying ‘II’ (yep, the song titles are a simple Roman numeral listing I-VII, as is now the Mgla trademark).

The music is mid-paced, emotive Black Metal that’s impossible to dislike. Loads of atmosphere on here, then, and the tracks are beautifully-composed and excellently-delivered. Vocals are close to perfect, without going over the top. In fact, I would say they are somewhat understated for a raw-ish BM release but then again I’m not sure how raw ‘WHTN’ is. It’s of the underground, that’s for certain, but it’s pretty polished and crafty stuff at the same time – which should appeal to all.

All in all, not much of the inspirational variety to say about this record except that it is well worth splashing out on.

Evilometer: 666/666

NUMINOUS – NUMINOUS LP (Northern Heritage)

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

Signed to Northern Heritage, the true home of underground Finnish Black Metal, Numinous is one of those mysterious, faceless, nameless (personnel-wise) entities that make this subgenre a joy to behold. The members remain anonymous and it’s hardly a publicity stunt as only an idiot could accuse such an unknown band of seeking attention. All of this adds greatly to the mystique and aura of occultism surrounding Numinous … and the music ain’t half bad either!

Words I would use to describe Numinous are dark, evil, obscure, swirling, dissonant, menacing, nasty, evil, suffocating – I’m sure you get the picture. Even though it’s a fairly short album, ‘Numinous’ is nonetheless wholesome and fulfilling, packed with black pleasure and seeming to last way longer than it’s officially-listed 31 minutes.

This probably falls somewhere into the orthodox BM category, coming across like a more underground version of Deathspell Omega, although better in lots of ways. It’s hard to beat something that’s genuinely obscure and the fact that it’s available on record adds to the appeal greatly (Having said that, if you don’t have a vinyl player, I would still recommend buying this on CD).

I tried reading the lyrics while listening but couldn’t quite follow. It’s one of those. Reminds me of when I first started to listen to Death Metal and Black Metal, when extreme music was genuinely oblique and inaccessible. All these years later, there’s still no greater thrill than discovering an underground gem, one that is all substance and no hype. Great stuff in every way, this one.

Evilometer: 555/666

CLANDESTINE BLAZE – FALLING MONUMENTS (Northern Heritage)

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Black Metal by the people for the people and of the people. All the way from Lahti, Finland, Clandestine Blaze is Mikko Aspa’s day job, when he’s not moonlighting in the much-more-popular Deathspell Omega. The head of Northern Heritage has been toiling diligently with this harsh, raw one-man project for 13 years, and ‘Falling Monuments’ is his sixth full-length release under the CB moniker. It’s also one of the best.

Though I probably prefer the exceptional predecessor, ‘Church of Atrocity’, it has to be said that ‘Falling Monuments’ is a pretty fantastic piece of black art. It’s got that essential underground vibe seeping through every pore, thanks to an organic production that allows everything to bathe in dank squalor. The music itself is predominantly (but by no means always) mid-paced and grim, plodding along ominously with passionate fervour and dangerous intent.

I suppose you could classify CB as traditional BM in many respects, but I think that’s unfair. His music stands head and shoulders above most of the established acts within the subgenre and is criminally under-rated. Aspa may have made a name for himself beyond his native shores mainly as the vocalist in DsO but this release proves yet again that there is a lot more substance and essence to him; he is a man of many dimensions.

Clandestine Blaze is an amazing entity in its own right: ‘Call of the Warrior’ more than matches what Deathspell Omega bring to the table, so ferocious and frenzied it is, yet all the time sustained by an infectious (albeit bleak) harmony; the stunning ‘Melancholy of the Falling Monuments’ is even more brooding, a harbinger of the end of all times, a call to the ancient past; ‘Horizon of Ego Annihilation’ sends glorious chills down the spine; the more aggressive ‘Endurance of Supernatural Ritual’ is merely standard fare; but ‘Discordant Howls of Tormented’ signs off in majestic fashion, a cascading, multi-linear pit of decadence.

This album never gets boring. To the contrary, the more I listen, the more I discover its hidden intricacies. It’s the real deal, dripping with authenticity and know-how, a perfectly-executed Black Metal masterclass. One that deserves a place in even the most discerning fan’s collection.

Evilometer: 555/666