Archive for March, 2018

Ermerging from the ashes of respected Edinburgh black thrashers NNGNN, Valaraukar are a new two man band that draw mighty inspiration from the abyssal wells of gloriously savage black metal. Their two track demo, ‘Harnessing of Hostile Forces’ is available now through Rat King Records on Bandcamp.

Opener ‘Hostiles Forces’ flows with fearsome intent, moving smoothly like a giant black snake. Relentless double kicks provide a beefy engine for the rapid fire tremolo riffs to cascade across, and the song rampages bleakly onwards. ‘Conquering the Void’ continues this path, rife with cool riffing and an innate sense of the cold, the heartless and the bleak icy abysses. Valaraukar have put chains upon the dark beasts, and drawn them under their control.

‘Harnessing of Hostile Forces’ is a magnificent statement of intent, and while it still betrays their roots in NNGNN’s thrashy world, Valaraukar are vanishing deep into the morbid depths of icy black metal, and it is a joy to be a part of.

https://valaraukarband.bandcamp.com/releases

https://www.facebook.com/valaraukarband

Hildr Valkyrie - Revealing the Heathen Sun

Hildr Valkyrie is a one woman folk metal project from Greece, whose second full length ‘Revealing the Heathen Sun’ is out now on Stygian Crypt Productions. Hildr has been helped with the recording by Jan Twothousandarrows from label mates Folkodia with guitars and bass. This is some gothic, epic Viking metal for you to lift your pagan eyes to the great North!

The ghostly ‘The Primordial Sky God’ leads us into the dramatic, keyboard led ‘Over Land, Mountains and Shade’. Swelling gothic overtones coat these odes to the ancient days of time immemorium, and tracks like the soaring ‘We Are Heathens’ bring back memories of early Nightwish. But I like the harshness creeping in tracks like ‘Final Blot’, showing that Hildr Valkyrie isn’t all just folky gothic sweetness. There’s a definite edge lurking within the atmospheric melodies, and there are plenty of grandiose spoken word sections that conjure certain elements of modern Cradle of Filth (see ‘The Rune’s Song’ in particular).

‘My Oath’ is the most unsettling piece, where a commanding vocal seems to preach to the snarling, beastial voices underneath. It feels like a scene from an old horror movie, perhaps where an evil temptress summons demons to do her biddings. It is this almost cinematic experience that really raises ‘Revealing the Heathen Sun’ above the heaving masses of folk metal. Also, frankly, the catchy as fuck ‘An Ode to All-Father Odhinn’ helps too!

‘Revealing the Heathen Sun’ initially strikes you as a run of the mill symphonic/gothic metal record but that is definitely not the case. While many of those elements exist, Hildr weaves unusual melodies, ferocity and plenty of gothic melancholy throughout, creating a record that is engaging and captivating. She has a beautiful voice too!

https://www.facebook.com/hildrvalkyrieofficial/

https://hildrvalkyrie.bandcamp.com/

http://hildrvalkyrie.blogspot.co.uk/

http://www.stygiancrypt.com/

Sadistik Forest - Morbid Majesties

Sadistik Forest are the latest belch from the dense, dark Finnish death metal underground, and ‘Morbid Majesties’ is their third full length record, coming a grand six years since their last. It is out at the end of May through Transcending Obscurity and is a monstrosity of a record!

Opening with ‘Morbidly Majestic’, the band kick it into a massive death metal maelstrom, sounding huge with relentless riffing cascading over broken bones and a hellacious vocal growl intoning each rabid lyric. There’s a healthy dose of Swedish death here, but Sadistik Forest are clearly drawing from the dark wellspring that their Finnish forebears first brought forth. The chugging malevolence that brings ‘The Hour of Dread’ to life is unsettlingly straightforward, the thunderous rush of ‘Monsters of Death’ or the clattering ‘Zero Progress’ also unearth memories of ancient Amorphis or even Demelich.

‘Morbid Majesties’ is a record that, on the surface, seems pretty straightforward death metal fare. But scratch away that surface and you’ll find a monstrous beast lurking beneath. One that is rippling with power, bristling in the darkness, dangerous and not of this world. By the time the mammoth ‘Bones of a Giant’s comes to an end, you find Sadistik Forest are intoxicatingly heavy, and their innate sense of brutality keeps this record spinning again and again.

https://sadistikforest.bandcamp.com/

https://tometal.com/

https://www.facebook.com/entertheforest/

 

Taiga - Cosmos

Russian black metallers Taiga’s newest record ‘Cosmos’ is another piece of the cryptic and bleak Russian black metal puzzle. Russia is a country that constantly cranks out bands of a high quality in various genres, but never seems to get the credit it deserves. ‘Cosmos’ is out now of Symbol of Domination Productions.

This is bleak, depressive black metal at it’s best,with ghostly keyboards accompanying the fiery riffing and the gloomy atmospheres. It often switches between a slower pace where the almost suicidal atmosphere is suffocating to the blasting, white hot setpieces that howl and shriek at the stars above. This dichotomy is what makes Taiga interesting to me; coupling not only the firebrand speed and rage of pure black metal but the weeping, shrieking loneliness of atmospheric black as well. Tracks like ‘Космос’ have an almost uplifting quality to them, when soaring melody drags the misery into the bright lights of day.

There’s definitely plenty of heart wrenching melancholy floating through this record, but Taiga’s grasp on the cold, desperation of life is masterful. ‘Cosmos’ builds itself within a cocoon of solitude, of darkness and of misery. Piercing through with sobbing screams, you still cannot fathom the depths of despair lurking here. Turn it on, turn it up and drift away forever…

https://www.facebook.com/TaigaOfficialPage/

https://seredovnikolay.bandcamp.com/

https://symbolofdomination.bandcamp.com/album/sodp103-taiga-cosmos-2017

Folkodia - Battle of the Milvian Bridge

International folk metal band Folkodia features members from 7 different countries, and their seventh full length ‘Battle of the Milvian Bridge’ is another rampant slab of anthemic Viking/folk metal. It is out now through Stygian Crypt Productions.

The opening title track is a massive galloping beast of a track, threading epic melodies throughout the heavy metal thunder. Taking cues from the likes of melodeath giants Amon Amarth and the catchy folkisms of the likes of Ensiferum or Metsatoll, Folkodia have perfected their sword and battle songs and each comes out with masterful aplomb. ‘The Maiden of Lorraine’ is full of epic hooks, while the raging ‘Battle of Salamis’ couples the intense blasting with plaintive violin work. All throughout ‘Battle of the Milvian Bridge’, Folkodia conjure the feel of ancient battles, tales of bravery and savagery drawing you in at each point.

Whether you’re singing along to the super catchy ‘Hussar Angels’, or banging your head at the thrashy gallop of ‘Sigillum Militium Xpisti’, Folkodia present something for everyone. ‘Battle of the Milvian Bridge’ will scratch your folk metal itch perfectly, while not being too predictable or stale. Top stuff!

https://www.facebook.com/Folkodiaofficial/

https://www.youtube.com/user/Folkodiaofficial

http://www.stygiancrypt.com/

It’s been almost 12 years since the last time I saw Sepultura live, when they supported In Flames on the Come Clarity tour. I don’t really know why I missed them so many times, I’m still a huge fan and have never stopped listening to their music. I guess times never matched up. But GODDAMN have I been a fool in that regard.

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First off, this is a new venue for me, the SWG3 in Glasgow’s West End which is an old warehouse that they’ve converted into what looks to be a fine arty venue. I missed Fit for an Autopsy’s set due to taking so long to find the venue but the last track I walked in on sounded great. It was my first time seeing Goatwhore live, and their vicious deathly black metal was particularly visceral tonight. Tracks like ‘Chaos Arcane’ roaring with barely contained malice really sets you up well for an evening of brutality!

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Next up were Obscura, whose fret shredding magnificence was almost too much to handle at points. Spiralling solos ripped through the SWG3 crowd, while brutal death metal riffing sent the pit crazy. It was a technical overload, with the likes of ‘Anticosmic Overlord’ and the mesmerising ‘Ocean Gateways’ absolutely slaying the denizens who stood open mouthed at the maddening guitar work.

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Finally the best part of the evening. Sepultura are, frankly, incredible live. Derrick Green strides onto the stage, the most unfuckwithable frontman in metal and roars with power as the band slam through a set that would invigorate even the most jaded metal fan. Their material from new record ‘Machine Messiah’ slides straight in between the classics and sounds just RIGHT, and when Andreas Kisser tells us that it is Green’s 20th year as a member of Sepultura, you realise that he’s been there almost twice as long as Max was. That is amazing, and Sepultura have thrived with him. Squeezing in some stuff from ‘Against’, we end with Brazilian classics ‘Arise’, ‘Ratamahatta’ and the building shaking ‘Roots Bloody Roots’. This is a masterclass in heavy music and no one leaving the building that night would disagree. Massive, essential and brutal, Sepultura are awesome.

Image may contain: one or more people, people on stage, crowd, night, concert and indoor

Pemphigoid are an old school death metal group from Nottinghamshire, UK, and their debut record ‘Where Compassion Comes to Die’ is the work of a hard touring band that takes its name from a rare autoimmune blistering skin disease. So you can kind of guess in what direction the lyrical content goes at least…

Very clearly influenced by early 90s death metal, particularly British luminaries Carcass, opener ‘Surgery’ gurgles with deadly intent immediately. Eschewing much of modern technicality, Pemphigoid instead go straight for a crunchy Obituary riff with a sickening vocal for devastating effect. The guitar tone is thick like clotting blood, and with various samples and creepy interludes ramping up the horror throughout, this does feel like a bloodied B-movie record. Reeking of fetid death, the groaning heft of ‘Bite Radius’ is a raw gem, as is the chugging misery of ‘Endophagia’.

‘Where Compassion Comes to Die’ is a solid reproduction of classic death metal values, and while the rough production hinders some of their songs from embracing their true greatness (the too murky ‘Necrolatry’ for example), Pemphigoid have definitely got something here to work on for future releases. Brutal, simple and utterly charming in its raw form, ‘Where Compassion Comes to Die’ is DIY death at its most viral.

https://pemphigoid.bandcamp.com/releases

https://www.facebook.com/pemphigoid/

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Canada’s North Hammer are a one man project focusing on bringing us tales of mighty Vikings and northern battles through folk inspired melodic death metal. ‘Stormcaller’ is their debut record, and it is due out in just a few weeks on March 16th. If you like some epic, charging Amon Amarthisms, you’re going to have a field day with ‘Stormcaller’.

Opener ‘Avatar’ is exactly that; massive chugging riffs with killer melodies and throaty roars launch from their longboats, ready to cleanse the heathen lands in blood. North Hammer clearly know exactly which side their bread is buttered on, and make no apologies for the huge riffs that rain blows down upon us mere mortals. The anthemic ‘Magic Mead’ is reminiscient of Ensiferum at their most singalong, and the clattering swords of ‘Tip of the Spear’ makes for a fine battle hymn. The acoustic shades of the drizzly ‘Black Forest Rain’ is washed away by the glorious ‘Spellbinder’, weaving epic leads into a galloping brute of a track.

North Hammer hit all the right notes with ‘Stormcaller’, a strong and swift record full of great tracks and it leaves you invigorating and ready for anything. A record for axe swinging, mead swilling and blood spilling, ‘Stormcaller’ is one of the most fun and fist pumping records you’ll hear this year.

https://www.facebook.com/NorthHammerOfficial/

https://andrewjames928.wixsite.com/northhammer

https://northhammer.bandcamp.com/releases

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Croatian heavy metallers Speedclaw are striking quickly after last year’s superlative debut, ‘Iron Speed’. ‘Beast from the East’ features more of the same, classic heavy metal licks with a sense of fun and conviction I haven’t come across since I discovered Night Demon two years ago! It’ll be out on Shadow Kingdom Reocrds in April!

An acoustic ‘Prelude’ almost lulls you into a false sense of security with its beautifully realised scales before the title track roars into gear, overflowing with classic NWOBHM moments. Siphoning the finest riffs from the likes of Angel Witch and Jaguar, with a dash or two of early Maiden, Speedclaw hit all the right marks immediately. ‘Faster than Hell’ is a galloping ode to the most melodic of early thrash, while the killer leads of ‘Rising of the Claw’ is a personal highlight. ‘Aggression Strikes’ hits you like a missing B-side from ‘Bonded by Blood’.

Basically, with Speedclaw you would struggle to find anything not to like about this release. Drinking deep from the well of classic heavy metal, Speedclaw realise this vision in glorious modern form. Solos spray wildly, choruses are really catchy and melodies will dig into your frontal lobe and refuse to leave. Speedclaw are fucking awesome, buy this goddamn record!

https://shadowkingdomrecords.bandcamp.com/album/beast-in-the-mist

https://www.facebook.com/speedclawrijeka/

https://www.shadowkingdomrecords.com/

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‘The Resistance’ is a 7″ accompaniment to Danish rockers Demon Head’s last record, ‘Thunder on the Fields’, and provides a fitting epilogue to that piece. An old fashioned, sinister rock two tracker due on on the 28th of April via The Sign Records, and is a haunting change to my usual heavy soundtrack.

The dusting off of old tape machines, instruments and themes provides opener ‘Rivers of Mars’ with a soulful, desert groove. Aching vocals croon over clean guitar that teases artful country and folk rock influences from a soft electric sound. Framed as a tale against tyranny, the cool factor of ‘The Resistance’ is almost overwhelming. You can imagine it playing over a smoky 60s movie, with motorcycles roaring down highways of endless sand. I’ve never come across these guys before, but these two tracks have spun repeatedly in my head since I first heard them.

Hunt out this two track piece, then find the album it finishes. Demon Head are ghostly, oozing with a quiet swagger and a fragile openness. When amidst all the headbanging and throatshredding comes this beautiful tour de force, it is more than welcome. Drift away amongst hazy smoke and grass blowing in the wind, and allow your resistance to leave you.

https://www.facebook.com/Demoncoven/

http://thesignrecords.com/?p=292

http://demonhead.bigcartel.com/