Archive for November, 2019

Ordinul Negru - Lifeless

‘Lifeless’ is the fourth record from Romanian true black metallers Ordinul Negru, and another being rereleased by Loud Rage Music. Originally released in 2008, you can probably already guess what kind of cold, raw Transylvanian nightmares lie beneath, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Ordinul Negru are a one trick pony.

Bleak is probably the first word that springs to mind when ‘Wolves of the Ancient Forest’ springs to life. Waves of pure second wave spill from the speakers, followed by howling shrieks and an atmosphere of necrotic, icy death. This feeling of cold dread permeates every song on the record, and really takes you to the kind of eldritch darkness that you’d expect from Eastern European black metal. For some reason, even more so than their Scandinavian cousins, Eastern European countries just really GET black metal in such a primeval way. ‘Lifeless’ is another glorious example of that. I mean, just try and spy even the slightest hint of light in the suffocating ‘The Cold Spirit Arouse from a Forgotten Soul’.

There’s a mysterious black beauty about the soaring gloom of ‘Morbid Prophecy’ and ‘Serpent’s Promise’, the centrepiece 9 minute tracks that straddle the middle of the record. The first is a midpaced dirge; hypnotising in its simplicity but murky in spirit. The latter is a triumphant frosty blast of old school ferocity, with a little more speed about it but losing nothing in atmosphere. Their joint talents encapsulate everything great about ‘Lifeless’.

‘Lifeless’ is a record that leaves you drained, emotionally and mentally. The darkness on display feels really old, really pure. Ordinul Negru have tapped into a long forgotten vein of black gold, hidden amongst snow and forest and mountain. This album will leave you as a husk, albeit a very satisfied one. Awesome.

https://www.facebook.com/ordinulnegru/

https://loudragemusic.com/

https://loudragemusic.bandcamp.com/album/ordinul-negru-lifeless

This blog started many years ago with a big focus on the Cumbrian black metal scene, as I had recently moved to the area and was enthralled by the bleak beauty of the fells and the bleak music they inspired. Nefarious Dusk’s ‘God is Dead’ single was an early gateway to it, and they are now releasing ‘The Wanderer of the Cold North’, another tribute to this cold northern realm.

The gloomy open to ‘Hodbarrow’ really ramps up the atmosphere immediately before the fiery ‘Millom’, and when the first of the four part ‘Helvellyn’ hits, the first thing you can feel is the improvements in production. A warm feeling of roundedness filters through the crisp, icy riffs and gives everything just a little more potency. The guitar work is still very much classic second wave black metal, scouring through your veins like a howling wind while a savage rasp conjures black magic from cold, dark places. What Nefarious Dusk has now is a much grander scope; despite the necrotic guitar tone and the bleak, wintry assault on the senses, ‘The Wanderer of the Cold North’ has a lot of huge spaces, reminding me of Wolves in the Throne Room.

Nefarious Dusk have really put together what you could describe as the quintessential black metal record for 2019. Holding true to the ancient evils that created this special style, ‘The Wanderer of the Cold North’ also feels fresh and new, with somewhat haunting melancholy seeping through the blizzard. Perfectly capturing the spirit of these old English places, where the land aches with primordial mystery. Superb

https://www.facebook.com/nduk666

https://shop.purity-through-fire.com/en/

I reviewed the tremendous ‘Unutterable Horrors’ from New England’s Scaphism last year here, and they have just released a new two track cassette with their new vocalist Eden Rayz. It promises more of the same old school savagery in the vein of Massacre or Death

Opener ‘From the Bloody Banks of the Phlegethon’ immediately howls with a classic Morbid Angel style riff. The first noticeable difference is the production is murkier, giving that true early 90s feel. Eden Rayz vocally is a little rougher, little rawer than previous and that fits in nicely with the filthier production. Like the river of boiling blood it references, the track burns with energy and torment. ‘Infinite Coil of Auto-Enucleation’ has a bit more of that Immolation style that I liked about their last record; complex and dense riffing serpentines its way around growls and screams like a predatory snake, waiting for the kill.

Often a vocalist change can be a tough time for a band to work through. But Scaphism have hit the ground running and Rayz fits right into their nasty old school vibe. I look forward to what is to come from them, and hope I don’t have to wait too long.

https://scaphism.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Scaphism/

Golden Core - Fimbultýr

First published here: http://www.thesleepingshaman.com/album-ep-reviews/review-golden-core-fimbultyr/

This Norwegian duo are the definition of potential, with a 15 year old and a 17 year old powering this righteous noise meaning that they could have decades of material to come. What might bother me is the ‘progressive’ tagged onto their style, as that is normally added to anything that is even remotely long without actually featuring any prog elements. Golden Core’s debut came out in 2016, and ‘Fimbultýr’ is a record that belies their maturity with a staggering amount of talent.

The opening drive of the title track is magnificent, with thunderous doomy riffs propelled with a fuzzy bass line and pounding drums. Imagine Kyuss if they lived in the savage north rather than sun baked desert. The raspy throaty vocals give an extra oomph to proceedings as well, but it isn’t all just driving, bluesy stoner metal. The triumphant heft of ‘Rúnatal’ builds with tribal drumming and shimmering guitars into a lumbering, Cathedral-esque monster. Weird vocal effects cascade over massive cliffs of doom riffs, and this is the kind of prog I want in things labelled as progressive. Not just long songs. ‘Hrafnaspá’ is my favourite track here though, a rough and ready, punkish Queens of the Stone Age banger that is one of the more overtly ‘RAWK’ moments here, while the short and almost black metal ‘Villist Vættir’ is a nice surprise.

Golden Core’s songwriting skills are top notch, and if I hadn’t read in their press release that they were so young, you could’ve convinced me they’d been doing this for decades. It just SOUNDS so authentic, from the guitar tone and impressive licks, to the bass and drum thunder below. There is no more pleasant a surprise in finding a band that totally gets the style they are playing and get it at such a young age. I mean, turn up the powerful, folk tinged ‘Buslubæn’ and just bathe yourself in its glacial awesomeness. Golden Core are a superb band, and ‘Fimbultýr’ is hopefully just the beginning.

https://www.facebook.com/goldencoreband/

https://goldencore.bandcamp.com/album/fimbult-r

Eigenstate Zero is a Swedish death metal studio project from Christian Ludvigsson, and his debut full length ‘Sensory Deprivation’ is a mammoth seventy five minutes of shapeshifting death metal that betrays many, varied influences. It is out now through the band’s Bandcamp.

Despite the length of the record, the opening track ‘Fringe’ doesn’t hang around or build a slow burning intro. Brutality is immediate, constant and propelled with some delicious double kicks. You wouldn’t necessarily go as far as describing Eigenstate Zero as progressive death metal, but the technicality on display is very impressive in places. There’s also a myriad of influences playing roles throughout, from the In Flames-esque melodies of ‘1984.2’ to the chugging, sprawling Gojira-isms of ‘The Nihilist’, and the traditional Swedeath attack of ‘Communion’. In fact, Eigenstate Zero’s ability to weave together a number of varied styles into an album that feels like a cohesive whole is highly impressive. The longer tracks are also epic and well constructed, and these are where you get closest to progressive death metal, like the jazzy interludes of ‘Strangelets’.

‘Sensory Deprivation’ is a record that, while occasionally feels a little like an endurance challenge, mostly hits the spot for great songwriting, brutality and will keep you engrossed for a while. The songs have a lot of individuality and the album as a whole feels very cohesive despite a number of stylistic changes. Maybe reel in a couple of the more meandering parts and the next record will be perfect!

https://www.facebook.com/eigenstatezero/

https://eigenstatezero.com/album/sensory-deception

Originally published on the Sleeping Shaman: http://www.thesleepingshaman.com/album-ep-reviews/review-red-stone-chapel-omega-boombox/

German sludge rockers Red Stone Chapel release their debut record, ‘Omega Boombox‘, on the 25th of October through Argonauta Records and it is eight tracks of southern rock with all the stoner, progressive, sludge and blues influences you could need in your life. The Sleeping Shaman even managed to snag ourselves a premiere for it. But in a world of a thousand bands that claim to do this kind of music, can ‘Omega Boombox‘ stand out from the crowd?

The short answer is yes. ‘Omega Boombox’ may not reinvent the wheel but that wheel is beautifully looked after. Opener ‘Squid Limbo‘ hits you with a big ol’ riff that just hits that sweet spot with bluesy groove. The gruff vocals of frontman Dimi suit the whiskey-soaked attitude perfectly, and the swagger is retained throughout. Red Stone Chapel are a band that aren’t short on confidence, and the Orange Goblin-esque thrust of ‘Dead Man’s Chime‘ and ‘Praise the Fool‘ are things of beauty. The great, looming shadow of Clutch also is very noticeable, and the opening to ‘Panta Rhei’ would make Neil Fallon and crew proud! Red Stone Chapel are no tribute however. They’ve got a sound of their own.

I’m a metal fan that appreciates all the brutality, ethereal blackness or suffocating death that I can get, but we all must admit to a weakness for massive bluesy grooves. I mean, this is where all hard rock and metal grew from; a style that if nurtured properly can still electrify even after decades of being overdone. Red Stone Chapel add a nice, rough and gruff edge to their stuff, giving it a real authentic feel. Like some rough old mountain lads kicking back some Zeppelin and filtering it through a little early Mastodon. I’ve been listening to the psychedelic doom rock of ‘The Paper King‘ on repeat for days, and I’ll never get sick of it.

Omega Boombox‘ has most of everything you’re going to want in an album like this; hefty blues, swaggering RAWK grooves, gravelly vocals that aren’t missing an ounce of soul and some absolute killer riffs. Red Stone Chapel’s debut is packed full of potential hits, and enough subtle touches to make it all their own. This is a band to keep an eye on for the future, as if they can build on their foundation here and maybe go even a little weirder next time, it’ll be special indeed.

https://redstonechapel.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/redstonechapelband/

https://argonautarecords.bandcamp.com/