Monday, May 29, 2017 07:33

Posts Tagged ‘Ván Records’

THE RUINS OF BEVERAST – TAKITUM TOOTEM! EP (Ván Records)

Monday, March 6th, 2017

The Ruins Of Beverast - Takitum Tootem!At shy of 21 minutes, ‘Takitum Tootem!’ lasts about as long as a good shit but it’s still a very nice release. It’s ultra-accessible (I can imagine my uncles who are all sixty-something farmers with big red cheeks dancing along to it at a wedding) and it’s certainly another worrying departure from TROB’s blackened roots – especially with the new full-length imminent – but by fuck it’s splendid.

The cover of ‘Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun’ is neither here nor there but better to have it on the flipside, rather than an etching or something, after splashing out the price of an album for an EP. I’d like to have got more bang for my buck and also to have been offered more than nine minutes of original material but this one still gets a big thumbs up (even if it’s clearly not Black Metal).

Evilometer: 666/666

ALMYRKVI – PUPIL OF THE SEARING MAELSTROM MLP (Ván Records)

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

almyrkvi-pupil-of-the-searing-maelstromI met Garðar S. Jónsson outside Willemeen in Arnhem, Netherlands on Sunday evening. Seemed like a really nice person. When I encountered him again, four hours later, he was on stage with Slidhr, helping Jo out as live bass player. Then he put on some corpsepaint before returning to the stage with Sinmara, playing guitar. Seemed like a really demonic individual now…

The Dimensional Nomads gig was awesome and, on the flight home, I started to think about how amazing this collective of musicians is – Svartidauði, Sinmara, Slidhr, Wormlust, Myrkr, Rebirth Of Nefast, Haud Mundus – and how interlinked they are. Such a convergence of incredible Black Metal.

I had forgotten all about the Almyrkvi MLP, ‘Pupil Of The Searing Maelstrom’, which is actually the work of Garðar alone. The record is 26 minutes long and it’s something of a curveball as it sounds more like Blut Aus Nord than any of the aforementioned hordes. But – predictably – it is astonishingly good and showcases the versatility and sheer excellence of one of Black Metal’s most potent (and dead on) forces right now.

Evilometer: 666/666

URFAUST – APPARITIONS MLP (Ván Records)

Monday, June 8th, 2015

Urfaust - ApparitionsMusically, Urfaust’s connection to Black Metal is probably only tenuous at best. Their sound is for the most part far removed from your typical BM fare and this has never been more apparent than on ‘Apparitions’, which could be more accurately described as DDAWCC (demented dark ambient with crazed chants).

Normally, when bands associated with Black Metal head off on a tangent and peddle something entirely different – experimental, avant-, post-, or whatever the fuck – I’m not impressed. However, I love Urfaust. These guys have a distinct, wholly evil sound and one that clearly doesn’t suck.

Their strain of ritualistic, hazy, absinthe-fuelled madness is utterly fantastic. A breath of fresh air. Furthermore, this so-called MLP is a full-length in all but name as it provides 44 minutes of music.

Record looks superb; class cover; deadly insert; plus eye-catching two-sided poster. Truly great stuff, all things considered, and worthy of full marks.

Evilometer: 666/666

TRUPPENSTURM / THORYBOS – APPROACHING CONFLICT LP (Ván Records)

Friday, March 13th, 2015

Truppensturm Thorybos - Approaching ConflictThere’s eleven tracks of decent Black / Death Metal on ‘Approaching Conflict’, with a strong war vibe and theme – particularly from Truppensturm, which is hardly a surprise as that’s their specialist area of expertise. I suppose this style of music is similar to Archgoat in some respects, although both these bands are more lo-fi, with a duller delivery.

I don’t think there’s anything especially remarkable about this split but it is nevertheless enjoyable and certainly worth checking out if you appreciate underground blackened death, with an emphasis more on the death quotient. Comes in a gatefold jacket with a poster and printed inner sleeve including select lyrics.

Evilometer: 444/666

NECROS CHRISTOS – NINE GRAVES LP (Sepulchral Voice Records / Ván Records)

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

Necros Christos - Nine GravesAmazingly, Necros Christos only consider ‘Nine Graves’ to be an EP. Yet, at 40 minutes, it is longer than most full-lengths coming out of the increasingly-stingy Black / Death Metal underground these days. I’m fucking sick of being short-changed so it’s refreshing to come across a release that offers value for money (which, in fairness, should be a requisite).

Considering that their two actual full-length albums, ‘Triune Impurity Rites’ and ‘Doom Of The Occult’ clock in at an hour and 73 minutes respectively, Necros Christos’ generosity on here should surprise nobody.

There are only four songs proper on the record (lyric sheet and poster included) and the rest of the release comprises NC’s trademark ‘Temples’ and ‘Gates’. Altogether, it flows as another great piece of work from one of my all-time favourite acts.

A stunning triumph for both quality and quantity.

Evilometer: 666/666

SORTILEGIA – ARCANE DEATH RITUAL 2LP (Ván Records)

Monday, January 5th, 2015

Sortilegia - Arcane Death RitualBereft of all sense of spirit and soul, the modern consumer wants ten million songs crammed onto a nanostick the size of an ant’s cock. The double-vinyl edition of Sortilegia’s debut full-length represents the very antithesis of such mass consumption and rampant, meaningless consumerism.

Here, we have two huge slabs of black wax; a heavy-as-fuck gatefold jacket; a pair of weighty inner sleeves; and a poster that measures four foot square. Damn, there’s even a spare Side D with nothing on it…

Where would a modern fuckface store such a monstrosity? The fact that ‘Arcane Death Ritual’ also happens to contain some 50 minutes or so of mesmerising, analogue, underground Black Metal art (long and mystical obscure odes) seals the deal.

A stunner.

Evilometer: 666/666

RATTENFÄNGER – EPISTOLAE OBSCURORUM VIRORUM LP (Ván Records)

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Rattenfänger - Epistolae Obscurorum VirorumRattenfänger is a Ukrainian band featuring assorted members of local Black Metal hordes Drudkh, Blood Of Kingu, Atrofaes, Hate Forest etc. performing Death Metal.

Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum’ sounds exactly as you would expect a Ukrainian band featuring members of local Black Metal hordes Drudkh, Blood Of Kingu, Atrofaes, Hate Forest etc. performing Death Metal to sound.

This is surely the best Death Metal album ever to come out of Ukraine and the vinyl version courtesy of Ván looks every bit as stellar as it sounds. Further words are unnecessary

Evilometer: 666/666

BLOOD OF KINGU – DARK STAR ON THE RIGHT HORN OF THE CRESCENT MOON LP (Ván Records)

Monday, November 17th, 2014

Blood Of Kingu - Dark Star On The Right Horn Of The Crescent MoonDark Star On The Right Horn Of The Crescent Moon’ rides my stereo like a storm from the east. Drums like ominous claps of thunder; guitars like torrential rain at the end of days; vocals like a fucking tornado.

Horns as portents of doom, death and demise. Sheets of lightning fill my mind and in the flickers of visibility I see the shredded bodies of fallen fools.

Blood Of Kingu have outdone themselves with this murderous rampage. A visual and aural feast.

Evilometer: 666/666

THE RUINS OF BEVERAST – BLOOD VAULTS – THE BLAZING GOSPEL OF HEINRICH KRAMER 2LP (Ván Records)

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

The Ruins Of Beverast - Blood VaultsBlood Vaults – The Blazing Gospel of Heinrich Kramer’ isn’t so much a new album as a seismic event. I fear that I’m not a conscientious or wordy enough writer to do justice to Alexander von Meilenwald’s latest incredible opus –a sprawling, 78-minute concept album that beguiles and soothes from start to finish and is a worthy addition to one of the truly outstanding musical canons.

Like all great artists, The Ruins Of Beverast has managed to hone its own distinct sound without becoming tedious; a sound that is instantly recognisable and always thoroughly enjoyable. I’m not sure how he does it, what the magical formula is (sheer genius, perhaps?), but I never think ‘oh, the same shit again – I’ve heard it all before’. Instead, I revel in each new full-length offering from a man who deserves all the kudos and respect he gets.

I listen to all of The Ruins Of Beverast’s albums over and over again (not many bands I can say that about!) and I honestly cannot imagine how anybody could fail to appreciate this amazing art form. Thus, though it does seem to peter out a little towards the end, this is probably one of the safest purchases you are ever likely to make.

As ever, the song-writing is top notch, the lyrics fascinating, the execution of the songs uncannily perfect and the value for money – ‘Blood Vaults’ is twice as long as most albums! – beyond question. The records are housed in a fabulous gatefold jacket with two lovely inlays included. Okay, there’s arguably more doom than black on here – and that would normally bother me greatly – but in the case of The Ruins of Beverast, when the music is so exceptional, there should be no quibbling.

Like its three pristine predecessors, ‘Blood Vaults – The Blazing Gospel of Heinrich Kramer’ is utterly monumental in every way. As they say in the drumlins and watering holes of Monaghan: “he’s some man for one man”.

Evilometer: 666/666

VERDUNKELN – WEDER LICHT NOCH SCHATTEN 2LP (Ván Records)

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

As a long-time watcher of these Germans, I was pleasantly surprised to catch their second full-length try to slip by me, sneaking along under the radar. To say there was no fanfare accompanying this release would be an exercise in understatement. One day it was just there. On the Ván website. Double vinyl edition, too. What a pleasant surprise on an otherwise uneventful, wet weekday afternoon! Had to check it out…

My initial impression was one of disappointment. I think the 2xLP format is worthy of a gatefold jacket and there is none with this. Also, the running time of 49 minutes doesn’t quite justify a double vinyl – I was expecting at least an hour of music. This etching-on-Side-D nonsense really pisses me off, too. Who wants to own one side of a record with an etching on it? That’s like a TV screen made from tin foil. Pointless. Worthless.

On the plus side, there is a lyric sheet included and a poster … and the card that the record sleeve is constructed from is quite cool (digging the bottom of the barrel?). Also, the artwork looks fabulous in the 12”x12” scale. On to the music, then…

Well, Verdunkeln more or less deliver the goods, especially on the three epic tracks – ‘Am Ende Des Abgrunds’, ‘Die Letzte Legion’ and ‘Weder Licht Noch Schatten’. They play a slow-to-mid-paced doomy strain of Black Metal that’s unmistakably German – and one could argue not really Black Metal at all. More like black rock or black doom. Performed in the native tongue and conjuring up images of olden days, ancient faces, battles perhaps. I’ve noticed that a lot of the music I’ve been listening to lately has a nostalgic vibe going on and this record-and-a-half seems to fit into that category, though I really have no idea what they are talking about…

This isn’t raw in any way. And Verdunkeln aren’t BM in the traditional sense – if in any sense at all. Generally, the vocals aren’t snarled or screeched. They are more spoken / whispered but arguably no less effective for that. A strong sense of melody runs through the music, but to my ears it all becomes kind of boring. I thought both ‘Einblick In Den Qualenfall’ and the vinyl version of the self-titled demo were better – though it has been a while since I listened to either.

All in all, ‘Weder Licht Noch Schatten’ is a good enough (2?)LP but not a brilliant one and the not-worth-a-flying-fuck Side D mars the record big time.

Evilometer: 333/666

THE RUINS OF BEVERAST – ENCHANTED BY GRAVEMOULD MLP (Ván Records)

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

Enchanted By Gravemould’ assembles some odds and ends from assorted periods in TROB’s extraordinary career to form a mini-album that could be equally construed as either a stop-gap release of little true merit or an essential piece of work for completists, dedicated followers and the uninitiated alike. It all depends on your circumstances, your perspective, your degree of exposure to this ‘band’ and, of course, your level of cynicism…

So, is this a cash-grab from the label? Perhaps. You’d have to ask them. But there is merit in the argument that they are genuinely putting these tunes out there to allow listeners an opportunity to enjoy them together, preferably in the vinyl format (it’s also available on CD). Personally, I’m sitting somewhere in between: I rate The Ruins Of Beverast as probably the finest Black Metal artist in existence today, so this is already ten times better than most releases. At the same time, I’m not sure how mandatory it is.

The unbelievably brilliant ‘The Desert Lair’ – culled from the greatest split LP ever released – kicks things off and the bottom line is that if you don’t already possess a copy of ‘Gott In Uns’ on record then straight away you have to purchase ‘Enchanted By Gravemould’. Next up is ‘The Moselle Enigma’, taken from the infamous split with Urfaust, which unfortunately I don’t own. I don’t think the split was ever officially released. You had to ask the label for a copy; I didn’t. A decent song, but nothing overly-special.

Side A is completed by the eight-minute ‘Hours Of The Aequinox’, which originally appeared on the bonus 7” that accompanied the earliest vinyl edition of sophomore full-length ‘Rain Upon The Impure’. Again, I missed that. It’s a familiar-sounding song (could be called ‘The Desert Lair II’), sort of fizzing and raw and lo-fi, almost depressive but also grande. Worth having for sure, so once more here’s a tune that’s worthy of the price of admission.

The second side is more disappointing, comprising three covers of bands who must have influenced Alexander von Meilenwald in some way during his life, though thankfully this isn’t evident in the music he composes himself! ‘Enigma Of The Absolute’ is from Dead Can Dance (good for them); ‘To Have And To Hold’ was conceived by those masters of darkness Depeche Mode; and ‘Symphonaire Infernus et Spera Empyrium’ is of course a classic My Dying Bride epic from the 1992 EP of the same name.

The latter is a frighteningly faithfully rendition (all 16 minutes of it) and pays worthy homage to the masters of doom. I realise doom is an integral component of TROB’s unique sound but for me this side of the wax is sounding too much like Type O Negative for comfort. Not particularly what I enjoy but I knew this would be the case before purchase and still went ahead and parted with my cash.

All in all, ‘Enchanted By Gravemould’ is an interesting release that should bring great joy to many. It contains one side that’s close to perfect and one that’s far from perfect. I’m loathe to say anything negative about this incredible artist so I’ll conclude by recommending this to a degree but not nearly as wholeheartedly as I would endorse ‘Unlock The Shrine’, ‘Rain Upon The Impure’, and ‘Foulest Semen Of A Sheltered Elite’ – which together constitute an unmissable triptych of true Black Metal majesty.

Evilometer: 444/666

DØDSENGEL – DØDSENGEL EP (Terratur Possessions / Ván Records / Barghest)

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

The music on this release is superb but the value for money quotient is minimal. As Dødsengel is arguably the most essential Black Metal band in the universe right now, there was never any doubting how good these songs would be. They are – true to form – absolutely superb. But, seriously, what is the point of mini-albums?

I’ve never quite been able to get my head around the concept of releasing MCDs and MLPs – this is available in both formats – and the only conclusion I can draw is that they are a quick cash-grab. There has to be an economic reason behind these decisions. In fairness, at 28+ minutes, ‘Dødsengel’ is far from the worst offender. But it’s still only half an album and it’s not half price.

I assume that most people, like me, can’t nip into their nearest corner store and buy Black Metal CDs or records. Therefore, we are restricted to purchasing via mail order. Thus, mini-albums are prohibitively expensive – you still pay the same postage and packaging charge as for a full-length and the actual selling price is only a couple of Euro less, so overall we’re talking about a bad return on the listener’s investment. In these global recessionary times, this is unacceptable.

The music on ‘Dødsengel’ is magnificent and easily surpasses most other current releases in terms of quality if not quantity. Comparable to the stellar material on the band’s exceptional sophomore LP ‘Mirium Occultum’, these four songs are harsh, menacing, disturbing, eerie, epic and altogether inebriating examples of prime BM excellence, but I really think fans deserve to be presented with a full album’s worth of material rather than a succession of EPs. This is the band’s fourth EP in a year and I’ve purchased them all but it’s a fucking expensive hobby. The guts of twenty quid for four songs? Seriously, give me a break!

Great and all as Dødsengel is, the novelty factor of collecting a flurry of expensive underground releases soon wears off. I think they should stop messing around and release proper albums – a format that  would do justice to the Norwegians’ brilliance.

[Unfortunately, the absolute maximum rating I can give this is 333. Mini-albums are a joke and labels (there are three involved here for some reason) should stop releasing them.]

Evilometer: 333/666

URFAUST – DER FREIWILLIGE BETTLER LP (Ván Records)

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Urfaust emits some of the most unusual Black Metal out there and nowhere has this ever been more apparent than on their third full-length, ‘Der Freiwillige Bettler’, brought to you courtesy of German label Ván Records. I purchased the Intoxication Edition of the record, which comes with a sumptuous old school gatefold sleeve with a flap, including a 12-page booklet replete with lyrics and etched onto blue vinyl. It’s a beautiful package; one you could look at all day if you’re a nerd like me with no life.

Five years after their last LP (during which time we were served intermittent EPs and splits), the Dutch duo have returned with an album that meshes Black Metal, doom and dark ambience with all manner of weirdness. This music is simply disturbing, unsettling and pure damn mesmerising. The vocals are otherworldly, arguably the most atypical BM voice you’re ever likely to hear: chanted, Gregorian sermons that could well come from an altar in some decayed church on the outskirts of civilisation.

Part Circle of Ouroborous; part Pete Steele; part Candlemass; part fucking lunatic; part priest. (I realise the last two parts are practically the same thing.) No croaks, no rasps, no shrill shrieks – just that patented, disturbing chant that’s closer to classic doom than black, in all honesty, but fits Urfaust’s music like a glove. Whereas some BM vocalists sound like frogs or fraggles, IX comes across as being completely insane. Which is good, of course.

The production is spot-on, with every note allowed to creep through the gloom, and the clever use of synth breathes further life into proceedings, adding depth and scope to an already multifaceted work. The songs march along – often at funereal pace, somtimes brisker – with sombre menace, an unnerving amalgam of black and doom that is wholly unique and worthy of further investigation. If you ever decide to perform a candlelit ritual in a cave that happens to have a sound system installed, this is the record you should bring with you. ‘DFB’ represents a career-defining moment for Urfaust and is undoubtedly a record I’ll be listening to over and over again.

Evilometer: 555/666