Wednesday, November 21, 2018 15:03

Posts Tagged ‘Season Of Mist’

INQUISITION – BLOODSHED ACROSS THE EMPYREAN ALTAR BEYOND THE CELESTIAL ZENITH 2LP (Season Of Mist)

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

inquisition-bloodshed-across-the-empyrean-altar-beyond-the-celestial-zenithInquisition strikes again with a seventh full-length and ‘Bloodshed Across The Empyrean Altar Beyond The Celestial Zenith’ is another solid release as well as a serious fucking mouthful. While there is definitely a law of diminishing returns evident in the band’s canon – and the charm of earlier releases (including those magnificent toad croaks) is conspicuously absent on the most-recent output – I still thoroughly enjoy listening to Inquisition.

Even though I prefer the first four albums to the more polished and sterilised material that has emerged since the duo (deservedly, I suppose) migrated onto bigger labels (seemingly more intent on wringing every last drop of cash out of listeners’ pockets with ultra-limited editions and exorbitant prices than allowing bands to display their true underground leanings), this is still well worth checking out.

This standard vinyl edition comprises two records in a gatefold jacket, with printed inner sleeves including cosmic-chaotic lyrics; almost an hour of music; something of a slow burner – the album really gathers a head of steam as it progresses. Big production and a mainstream sound that for me flies in the face of what Black Metal is all about.

Inquisition: not as awesome as they used to be but still better than most.

Evilometer: 666/666

DRUDKH – A FURROW CUT SHORT 2LP (Season Of Mist)

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

Drudkh - A Furrow Cut ShortSo what does ‘A Furrow Cut Short’ bring to the pagan altar that wasn’t delivered on the previous nine Drudkh full-lengths? Absolutely nothing, to be fair. Yet, strangely, that is almost as much a compliment as criticism.

See, Drudkh was the finished article pretty much from the word go, so there hasn’t really been anywhere for them to evolve into since opening gambits ‘Forgotten Legends’ and ‘Autumn Aurora’ established them as a byword for Ukrainian Black Metal excellence.

Okay, they’ve tweaked their sound here and there along the way and those who live and die by the band (if such fuckers exist) will point knowingly and cerebrally to the various eras and epochs of their history inseminated along the way, but I never really listened quite closely enough and honestly would struggle to determine one Drudkh song – or album – from the next if played to me blindly (and I own (and appreciate) them all).

Is the law of diminishing returns setting in? Possibly. Is this mandatory? Probably not. But Drudkh are still recording very good Black Metal and long may it continue. I suppose it all comes down to how much of a Drudkh addict you are. Personally, I like ‘A Furrow Cut Short’ but won’t get withdrawal symptoms when I file it away.

I suppose the bottom line is that Drudkh has become such a safe bet that it’s hard to get overly excited – but the mark below speaks for itself. Double-vinyl edition is very smart, indeed, by the way.

Evilometer: 555/666

TSJUDER – ANTILIV 2LP (Season Of Mist)

Monday, December 28th, 2015

Tsjuder - AntilivThis one comes in a gatefold sleeve with a nice booklet included and the records are pressed at 45rpm to maximise the sound quality. Two tracks on each side; 20 minutes on the first record, 26 on the second.

The label has done a decent job with the double LP but why they need to release a million different editions is beyond me. (Well, not really.)

Anyhow, Tsjuder does what Tsjuder does: straight-out, no-holds-barred, traditional Norwegian Black Metal done the old way and with abundant competence. It’s very hard to find any fault with this album, even though it doesn’t stick in my head or move me in any real way. When I lay awake at nights, it is not ‘Antiliv’ that I dwell upon.

At the end of the day, it’s just another quality Black Metal record and far be it from me to take issue with that. (Apologies for the crap pic.)

Evilometer: 555/666

REVENGE – BEHOLD.TOTAL.REJECTION LP (Season Of Mist)

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

Revenge - Behold.Total.RejectionRevenge return with a – dare I say it? – vengeance. Fifth full-length ‘Behold.Total.Rejection’ is their longest album to date, breaking from the tradition of offering eight songs and instead delivering ten, and it is also their most insane, by quite some distance.

Even by Revenge standards, this is fucking way out there. Like the soundtrack to a massacre in an abattoir, with the beasts themselves playing the music, ‘Behold.Total.Rejection’ ups the ante big time and takes things to a whole new level of extremity. I love when bands do that; it shows that they have really meant it all along.

The first time I listened to this record I couldn’t believe how totally mental it sounded. But by now I have become accustomed to the madness that abounds hereon and I would without hesitation herald ‘Behold.Total.Rejection’ as one of the most mandatory records I’ve ever had the pleasure of spinning.

It’s a relentless, challenging and even exhausting listen due to the utter savagery and speed of the songs. But fuck me sideways if it isn’t divine.

Behold total erection.

Evilometer: 666/666

MAYHEM – ESOTERIC WARFARE (Season Of Mist)

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Mayhem - Esoteric WarfareAfter a seven-year wait, the legendary Mayhem return with their fifth full-length. Has it been worth the wait? Not really. Mayhem have an irritatingly huge sound now, their music so crisp and polished and well-produced that they are no longer of the underground. Granted, the vocals on ‘Esoteric Warfare’ are astonishing but everything else about it is boring and brash and grand and ultimately very forgettable. You can take it or leave it and I prefer the latter course of action.

Seems to me that when Black Metal bands step out of the underground into the big time, they just sound redundant and disposable. Safe and cynically-precise BM aimed at a wider audience. Arena Black Metal. Who cares if it is perfectly executed when it has no soul? Shame, really, because Atilla delivers a performance that could have been awesome had it been supplemented with raw Black Metal rather than accessible, melodic industrial metal / rock on a truly bombastic scale.

Evilometer: 111/666

ENDSTILLE – KAPITULATION 2013 LP (Season Of Mist)

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

Endstille - Kapitulation 2013I more or less overlooked Endstille for the first decade or so of their existence, subconsciously dismissing them as a Marduk clone. For right or for wrong, I assumed that the Germans  were essentially a poor man’s Marduk and I never  liked Marduk all that much when they were all about panzers and blitzkriegs. To be honest, I only started to appreciate the Swedes after Mortuus had joined their ranks and they released ‘Rom 5:12’ in 2007.

Eventually I turned an ear to Endstille and investigated ‘Infektion 1813’ a couple of years ago. Thought it was a decent album so I was always going to check out the follow-up. And ‘Kapitulation 2013’ is another fine record. Granted, it isn’t in any way innovative or ground-breaking (doh!) but Endstille’s eighth full-length is still a really, really solid example of uncompromising Black Metal.

All the lyrics (great English, guys!) are included on the insert and the label has done a professional job with presentation etc. All in all, this is a very good LP, although admittedly not necessarily a great one. Having said that, I am doing this because I fucking love Black Metal and I can’t get enough music like this. Hard to legitimately find fault with this.

Evilometer: 555/666

INQUISITION – OBSCURE VERSES FOR THE MULTIVERSE 2LP (Season Of Mist)

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

Inquisition - Obscure Verses For The MultiverseInquisition’s subtle charm is irresistible and wholly addictive. On their sixth full-length, the Colombian duo pretty much do what they have always done, effortlessly easing through ten (including the vinyl bonus track) offerings of croaky Black Metal majesty. There is very little on here that I haven’t heard from Inquisition before, yet ‘Obscure Verses For The Multiverse’ is utterly essential listening.

Although all their albums are great, I personally believe that the last three represent a slight change of direction and sort of stand alone from the rest of the discography. Indeed, ‘Nefarious Dismal Orations’, ‘Ominous Doctrines Of The Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm’ and this new one are so alike that they resemble a trilogy in many respects, three parts of the same movement, all virtually identical in sound and tone.

So, nothing at all new here … yet the music is charming and fun and just fucking fantastic. To an extent, you probably need a sense of humour to enjoy Inquisition fully; the converse of this is that you would need to be one seriously grumpy fucker to have a problem with them. I think they are a true Black Metal institution and I also contend that they are vastly superior – and more consistent – than the band they apparently ape (Immortal).

Two bones of contention, both aimed at the label: all the cash-grab deluxe editions that cost a fortune (cowhide record sleeves or whatever) are a blatant rip-off and, well, is there really any need to mention vomit-inducing cunts like Watain and Darkthrone on the sticker on the cover? Makes me sick looking at those words.

The regular double-vinyl edition is more than adequate, however.

Evilometer: 666/666

GORGUTS – COLORED SANDS 2LP (Season Of Mist)

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Gorguts - Colored SandsWow! Holy fuck! Christ on a cross! Shit on a stick! What an unexpected surprise this is. Somewhere in a previous review, I casually dismissed the new Gorguts album, having only half-listened to it in MP3 format. Subsequently, I decided to grant it a proper audience. So impressed I was upon taking a proper listen that I humbly plunged a wad of cash on the double-vinyl edition.

In a nutshell: the supremely-executed occult Death Metal showcased on these LPs has to be heard to be believed.

Compared to the halcyon days, mainman Luc Lemay has assembled a whole new band around him, to the extent where I’m wondering where does Gorguts end and something else begin. But I suppose Gorguts has always been his baby and on ‘Colored Sands’ he has crafted a full-length that sits easily beside the fantastic 1991-2001 back catalogue.

Steeped in Tibetan / Buddhist mysticism, this concept album truly is a thing of magnificence and, to complete the deal, the records come in a beautiful gatefold cover with lyrics and sleeve notes all included. This is everything I thought ‘Odori Sepulcrorum’ might be – and then some. Normally, I would be the first to champion something new, but in this instance I have to hold my hands up and declare: leave it to the masters.

Evilometer: 666/666

ARCKANUM – FENRIS KINDIR (Season Of Mist)

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Must admit to being blown away by the scorching guitar sound conjured by Shamaatae on Arckanum’s eighth full-length proper, ‘Fenris Kindir’. The strings are like weapons; they sound like they could tear through flesh. They lend the album a truly searing, blistering quality which immediately elevates it into the upper echelons of recent releases.

I had pretty much given up on Arckanum after he parted company with Debemur Morti Productions (surely a mistake…) and landed the abysmally inadequate ‘Sviga Læ’ album, but ‘Fenris Kindir’ represents a definite return to form and can stand toe-to-toe with the likes of ‘Kostogher’ and ‘Antikosmos’ in one of Black Metal’s great canons.

All in all, this is a surprisingly-good album with plenty of variety, superb musicianship and undoubted quality throughout. No need to say any more, really.

Evilometer: 555/666

HELL MILITIA – JACOB’S LADDER LP (Season Of Mist)

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

This is another solid full-length from the French horde and I believe the vinyl format does it great justice. An already-enjoyable album is complemented by lovely artwork and packaging, with a different cover to the CD edition and a nice inner sleeve including the lyrics. It’s a cool record to look at anyway and I suppose that’s half the battle, eh?

As for the actual music, Hell Militia has incorporated some movie (I think…) samples etc. into their sound this time around and the whole thing seems somewhat more experimental than I remember the superb ‘Canonisation Of The Foul Spirit’ and equally-worthy ‘Last Station On The Road To Death’ being. By and large, the experimentation pays off – I especially enjoy the gargled vocals on ‘Death Worship’ (which resurface on other parts of the LP).

Hell Militia are more melodic than their sinister handle might suggest and the production on this album is really clear and crisp, resulting in a Black Metal record that’s certainly more polished than raw. In some regards, ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ is more David Lynch soundtrack than bullet belts and arm spikes but – even though I normally prefer my BM to stay close to the original template – I still like it. (And, fear not, there’s still a lot of Black Metal on here as well as a bit more of the kitchen sink than I am accustomed to with this band.)

Evilometer: 555/666

DRUDKH – ETERNAL TURN OF THE WHEEL (Season of Mist)

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Hard to believe this is already Drudkh’s ninth full-length. While for some the law of diminishing returns seems to have kicked in regarding the Ukrainians, I personally have always found their releases to be rather excellent. And ‘Eternal Turn Of The Wheel’ ranks right up there alongside the finest efforts of their illustrious recording career.

The blurb / gossip / bullshit circulating before this album landed suggested that we were going to be treated to a back-to-basics album – something more along the lines of ‘Autumn Aurora’ than ‘Handful of Stars’. Whatever. I’m always dubious about such assertions because it isn’t possible for a band to eschew its evolution and natural progression. How can you roll back the clock to 2003 and de-volve?

To me, this is just Drudkh, pure and simple. Obviously, it sounds a lot like most of their other releases – but not exactly the same as any of them (hmmm…). Another solid (if somewhat short) full-length from a band that’s received an undue backlash recently. Drudkh remain as fresh and relevant as they’ve ever been and if you’re waiting for them to come up with something new and different then you are a fool.

If you’re already a fan, you’ll love this. If not, don’t listen to the snobs … this is as good a place to start as any. Great emotional, epic, frozen Black Metal with a distinctly Ukrainian feeling. Superb.

Evilometer: 555/666

ENDSTILLE – INFEKTION 1813 LP (Season Of Mist)

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

Not a band I’ve followed with great interest, to be honest. Was always put off by the imagery; I’m not a big fan of panzer / blitzkrieg style Black Metal, so Endstille have always been kept at arm’s length. Until now. I decided to give the new LP a try – on a whim, more than anything – and it’s a decision I’m pleased with. I bought the coloured vinyl, which is sort of transparent more than colour, but who really cares about such technicalities?

The lyrical themes are pretty much the same as always but the Germans’ seventh full-length album is greatly enhanced by the presence of Zingultus behind the mike. This singer has performed with some of my favourite German BM acts over the years (Graupel, Nagelfar…) and – without being in any way disrespectful to his predecessor – he delivers a suitably superb performance on ‘Infektion 1813’, tearing through the full gamut of rasps and roars. There are some nice chants too on tracks like ‘Bloody H’ and ‘The Deepest Place On Earth’, which add to the melodiousness and catchiness of the LP (no harm as a counterpoint to the harsher parts as long as it isn’t overdone).

That’s not to say that Endstille have lost much of their aggressive edge. While they have toned the violence down and become a little more diverse, they’re still heavy as hell itself and I think this collection of BM tunes should appeal to those, for example, who appreciate the newer Marduk material. Personally, I believe Marduk have improved immeasurably since Mortuus joined their ranks (all of seven years ago! Hard to believe…) and I would draw a parallel between that and what is happening with Endstille.

Endstille have matured, but not in a bad way. But there is still room for further improvement. I see this album as a bridge. It’s a first step in a new direction. It’s a good LP but, in honesty, not a great one. It tends to get bogged down and monotonous at times and it doesn’t hold my interest from start to finish. Having said that, ‘World Aflame’ and ‘Wrecked’ are two of the best songs I’ve heard this year. The magnificent, mid-paced ten-minute closing track ‘Endstille (Völkerschlächter)’ is even better.

Therefore, I’d still insist that ‘Infektion 1813’ is better than 90% of the shit out there and the record version is a must-own. The follow-up will be interesting. With more conviction in what they’re doing and perhaps better use of Zingultus’ voice, this line-up could produce a masterpiece a la ‘Andacht’. This one is close but doesn’t quite get there.

Evilometer: 444/666

MORBID ANGEL – ILLUD DIVINUM INSANUS (Season Of Mist)

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

It’s soul-destroying when a band as seminal and genre-defining as Morbid Angel descends to such a shameful low. “Illud Divinum Insanus” represents one of the saddest and most-embarrassing moments in Death Metal history. This so-called album is shocking and it merits no further comment either from me or from anybody else. Avoid like the plague and seek out the new Autopsy instead. Even the new Lady Gaga would be an improvement on this.

Evilometer: 000/666