Archive for April, 2018

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For a blackened thrash band to be reaching their 30th anniversary is impressive, and the 10th full length from Pennsylvanian legends Sathanas is cause for celebration. ‘Necrohymns’ is pretty much everything you have come to expect from these flagbearers, and it will be released in July on Transcending Obscurity Records, proving once again that label head honcho Kunal knows quality metal when he hears it.

After 30 years Sathanas don’t fuck around with pleasantries, diving straight in with the mid paced chug double whammy of ‘At the Left Hand of Satan’ and ‘Of Wrath and Hellfire’. The guitar tone is nasty, the vocals are savage, the streak of melody is epic. Sometimes blackened thrash can be all hundred-miles-an-hour battering with no substance underneath. Not ‘Necrohymns’. This is an album that appreciates the measured approach, where nuanced Immortal/mid-era Darkthrone meets the Bay area chug in a superb clash. The galloping ‘Harbinger of Death’ is magic, while the devastating ‘Sacramentum’ is a reminder that they might be older, but there’s no blunting of the edge.

‘Necrohymns’ is an old school extreme metal record, nothing fancy, nothing ‘trendy’, just a commitment to great songwriting, great riffs and a palpable authenticity that flows like lightning through each song. Sathanas are legends, but it is a truly justified tag. Time for some real recognition

https://www.facebook.com/sathanasmetal/

https://tometal.com/

https://sathanas.bandcamp.com/

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‘Unsettling Whispers’ is the full length debut from Portuguese black metallers Gaerea, following their self titled debut EP. Transcending Obscurity is handling this, and it isn’t just your average black metal album. Gaerea aren’t afraid to mix in some more sludgy/hardcore elements as well to create something uniquely abrasive.

Opener ‘Svn’ builds with ominous intent, harsh screams and whispers crescendoing behind cold guitar and glacial tones with serious intensity. Black metal has always been at its best when it plays with your comfort level, and ‘Svn’ definitely does that, as a fiery torrent of blasting follows up. There is a lot to like about Gaerea; their sense of melody and space when their black metal soars, like the glacial ‘Lifeless Immortality’ or their ferocious grandiosity in the raging but regal ‘Cycle of Decay’. The closing ‘Catharsis’ is much more toward the sludgy side, but with definite layers of blackened menace.

Gaerea are a band that can capture the imagination with their brutality, abrasive screams and their blackened majesty. ‘Unsettling Whispers’ is epic enough to appeal to windswept black metallers and raw and bleak enough to draw in the less corpsepainted legions. An album that shows how genre splicing can have superb results, Gaerea are awesome.

https://gaerea.bandcamp.com/album/unsettling-whispers-black-metal

https://www.facebook.com/gaerea/

https://tometal.com/

Krolok almost became one of those lost gems that people speak of in hushed reverent tones when they released their ‘When the Moon Sang Our Songs’ originally in 2014, in a run of just 24 copies. Containing members of Malokarpatan, and hailing from Slovakia as well, Krolok bring that old black metal mysticism back to creaking, eldritch life. It is out now through Inferna Profundus Records.

The intro is full of horror movie cliches, like thunder and lightning, dark chanting, rattling chains and screaming. It seems a bit tacky at first until ‘Ride a Roan Steed’ kicks in, and the full old school black metal, evil feelings arise from deep within these dusty riffs. This is an ode to early Darkthrone, Mayhem and Burzum, when black metal was fuzzy, clattering and had an aura of danger to it. Like a spirit arising from ancient tombs, Krolok feels like a relic from a bygone era. It is an era that black metal fans constantly return to however, and ‘When the Moon Sang Our Songs’ has that intangible that fits in quitely nicely.

Their early Carpathian Forest cover is adept, and suitably , whilst ‘The Violet Castle in the Sky’ vanishes into heavy, dark ambient territory before once more returning to the scything black metal riffs. The dungeon electronica of ‘Cosmic Rituals’ closes this record in mysterious circumstances. A truly old school album in a time when ‘old school’ is more of a buzzword than a reality, ‘When the Moon Sang Our Songs’ is a masterclass in how to make things sound authentic. Cold, bleak and utterly miserable, it is like the second wave was the final evolution of black metal.

https://www.facebook.com/krolokband/

https://krolok.bandcamp.com/

https://www.ipr666shop.com/

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‘Beneath Ancient Portals’ is the full length debut of Abythic, and it follows the stunning ‘A Full Negation of Existence’, a demo that staggered me a few years ago. Blood Harvest are dropping this in May, and it fulfils the morbid promises of doom, death and destruction that the demo showcased.

The ‘Prelude to Obscurity’ is a grinding, crawling introduction to the tone of what Abythic bring to the fore. Howling solos slot into crushing riffs, before the devastation wrought by the intense ‘Purulent Phantom’ becomes apparent. Massive, old school death metal clashing with lumbering, doomy heaviness is a recipe for headbanging and invisible oranges! The title track is cavernous, mighty and vast with an oppressive darkness about it, summoning the eldritch murkiness of prime Autopsy or Grave to the surface. The vocals are appropriately brutal but don’t lack clarity, which almost adds a humanising touch to the miasmic rumble. There’s something human in this beast, crushing you for their own terrible purposes.

The focus of ‘Beneath Ancient Portals’ is the sheer heaviness of Abythic’s songwriting. It is intense, concentrating on an almost suffocating weight upon you as the likes of ‘T.H.O.N’ inexorably crushes you under its looming, groaning abyssal pressure. Abythic have probably made the heaviest record of 2018, and it is simply magical.

https://www.facebook.com/Abythic/

https://bloodharvestrecords.bandcamp.com/album/beneath-ancient-portals

http://www.bloodharvest.se/

With a name like Denim Casket, it’s almost gotta be old school thrash, right? Wrong actually, as this mutated Idaho trio are some bass led, noise mongering chaoticians. Their self released demo is available now through their Bandcamp.

Nasty, grinding sludge/death metal murkiness is probably the best way to describe this demo. The short, sharp blast of ‘Reverse Egg’ leads us to the rabid ‘Ham is Hog Butt’ that spasms and crawls like that terrifying lassie out of the Grudge. ‘Permanent Marker’ is similar, evoking this feeling of dread that is enveloping. Maddeningly heavy, due to their double bass/no guitar assault, Denim Casket grind along at the low, low, low end of the spectrum. Feedback squeals evoke EyeHateGod in the raw, sneering ‘Wrinkled Shirt’.

It is almost difficult to do Denim Casket’s demo justice. It is nasty, brutal music that doesn’t really fit into any real genre. Sludgy, abrasive, scowling; it is the aural equivalent of watching someone get their head kicked in in a filthy alley. Unpleasant but you can’t really look away.

https://denimcasket.bandcamp.com/album/demo

https://www.facebook.com/Denim-Casket-1641474882547114/

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Domedag is the work of Swedish multi-instrumentalist Nicklas Rudolfsson, best known for work in Necrocurse and as the drummer for Sacramentum back in the day. ‘Nu Nalkas Domedagen’ is due out soon on Archaic Sounds Records, and is for fans for apocalyptic Nordic tales through the medium of blasting, and doom laden, black metal.

Opener ‘Nu nalkas ragnarok’ is bestial in its clattering ferocity, drawing you in with black magic and killer riffing that continues in the likes of ‘I Flammor’. These songs are broken up with eerie, folky interludes that are reminiscient of Wardruna or Isengard, and it allows the actual songs a bit of time to breathe. ‘I Flammor’ is magnificent in its ‘summoning’ tone, as if demons were ready to rise to its call, while the ominous chug of ‘Baring at fanders’ builds excellently to the deathly, doomy ‘En bitter forsmak’. ‘Nu Nalkas Domedagen’ is a record that doesn’t stick to genre tropes, instead spreading the net wide to capture just the right kind of metal to express the darkness within. ‘Frost rost dod’ is probably the closest to a traditional black metal song, but even it possesses some sideways steps.

Be it blackened ferociousness, doomy melancholy or deathly crush, Domedag has put together a record here that throbs with a feeling of adventure. Dark and terrible, but also wondrous and wreathed in mysticism, ‘Nu Nalkas Domedagen’ could be a sleeper hit record this year. Seek it out.

https://www.facebook.com/domedagsmusik/

http://archaic-sound.com/brands/domedag

https://domedag.bandcamp.com/album/nu-nalkas-domedagen

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Weathered Statues is not the kind of band that the Killchain normally deals with, but I was so enthralled by the pulsing, post punk vibrancy of their ‘Borderlands’ record I just had to talk about it. Out on Svart Records at the end of April, ‘Borderlands’ is early New Order and Killing Joke for the 21st century.

‘Corpse Candle’ opens the album with a driving post punk riff, and the cool croon of vocalist Jennie Mather instantly adds a smouldering groove to it. The throbbing industrial hooks of ‘Betrayal’ dig into your skin, and leave a trail of darkness behind their more obvious hooky nature. It at once reminded me of what Ladytron would sound like with Jaz Coleman lurking in the background. ‘Heather’ is dirging, glacial pop for the modern downtrodden generation, while the pulsing ‘Hypnagogia’ is eeriely uplifting. There’s darkness here too, in the grinding ‘Sabbat’, the haunting ‘The Widow Sunday’ and the bleak, chugging closer ‘Holy Masquerade’.

‘Borderlands’ is a record I found almost by accident, and is normally totally off genre for me. But Weathered Statues have captured something absolutely magic here. Jennie Mather’s stunning voice ties these glorious melodies and dark undercurrents together in an album that will resonate with me for a long time. ‘Borderlands’ is not metal, but the darkness here is very real and haunting.

https://www.svartrecords.com/product/borderlands-3/#

https://www.facebook.com/weatheredstatuesband/