Posts Tagged ‘Baalberith’

I’m assisting my friend Steve Thomas Green at Sixsixsix Music with a few compilation ideas for the next few months, so I was greatly looking forward to the release of his ‘Helvete – Confederacy of Hatred’ compilation he has been putting together recently. This is a black metal compilation of unsigned or small label bands from around the world as a promotional vehicle. It is available here at Buy It Now (Name Your Price) on the label Bandcamp page, and for what you get not donating is a sin! A track by track rundown is my contribution to the promotion of these bands. We must ALL support the underground metal scene as much as we can, otherwise we will lose our most vital and bullshit free source of quality music.

We open with ‘Manifestum Mortis’ by Serbia’s Ophidian Coil. This is how you want a compilation to start, a scything statement of intent that leaves you breathless, savaged and beaten. Punctured in the middle by a majestic, icy solo, this is a band to look out for.

Argentina’s Capgrass are next with ‘Disruption of the Deepest Dreams’. A slice of the frozen north from South America, Capgrass are channeling Immortal’s majesty with this track, six minutes of relentless, hypnotising black metal, broken only by some bleak acoustics and a wonderful solo.

Krajiny Hmly from Slovakia have a tough act to follow with ‘Hlbiny Spanku Zabudnutia’, but the only bad thing about it was my attempts to spell their name. This doesn’t seem like your conventional black metal on first listen, with oddly melodic opening riffs permeating the whole song. There’s a feeling of uneasiness about it, enhanced by the echoing rasps of the vocals and the flourishes of pagan metal.

India’s Solar Deity are a particularly highlight of this comp for me. Their ‘Circling the Moon’ track is totally killer, and is a perfect example of the great things appearing from Indian metal in the past few years. It feels like prime ‘Transylvanian Hunger’ material, energising and thoroughly hateful and raw. The moments of calm only enhance the storm.

It is time for some USBM to appear, and representing is Pittsburgh’s Nox Aeternum with ‘In the Midst of Scarlet Passageways’. It struggles to maintain the heights of Solar Deity, but only just. This is another brilliant track showcasing the quality of US black metal. It reminds me of Marduk’s blitzkrieg attack, coupled with some of Satyricon’s more epic moments. It’s not all hipster or eco-black metal over the pond.

I’ve written about Skiddaw before, and they contribute ‘Even Titans Fall’ from their self titled debut. Go read my review to understand why this Gorgoroth-esque razorblade will flay skin from bone.

A new track from the UK’s Nefarious Dusk is always something to bring a black tear to your eye, and ‘Cast Me to the Lions’ is a raw, bleak and thoroughly dark piece of black metal. This is debut record Bathory shit here my friends, and when the early 90s Darkthrone riffs kick in, you’ll think you’re listening to the corpse painted hordes for the very first time.

The more subdued acoustic intro to Paimonia of Serbia’s offering, ‘Ruined Form Catharsis’, is skewered violently by a urgent, artillery assault of fiery black metal. A track that couples the more traditional aural violence with moments of introspective calm. Another highlight of the comp. We’re ONLY HALFWAY THROUGH PEOPLE!!

Track 9 consists of Columbia’s offering, Penumbra. As traditional with South American black metal, ‘Ritual Genocide’ is rawer than a freshly savaged carcass. There is only one mission here, to batter your brain into submission with blasphemy and battery.

Belgians Sercati open totally differently to everyone else here, with an almost gothic style keyboard intro to ‘Hound from Hell’. It creates a bit of a shock, and allows a bit of breathing space between the constant barrage. Mixing the black metal with something approaching more rock sensibilities is brave, and works here rather well, creating a very memorable song.

I’ve mentioned Baalberith here on the site just recently so I’ll jump ‘Battle for the Blazing Dawn’ and straight into Norway’s Uburen and their track ‘Deprived of Empathy’. Now, these guys have a disadvantage of being from the home of proper old school black metal and so the expectations should be high. Uburen do not disappoint however, with a slower and more malevolent song than a lot of the tracks here. It is atmospheric, crawling and oppressive.

Short but sweet is the next offering from Italy’s NyX. ‘Tulpa Strigoi’ is replete with inhuman growls and is powered by an almost unstoppable juggernaut of blastbeats. Consider the no frills black metal 101 box checked by these guys.

Approaching the end of this black metal marathon, we come across the longest track on the compilation, Chiral (Italy)’s ‘Atto II: Abisso’. Opening with a spine tinglingly peaceful picked intro, you are given the feeling of Opeth’s ‘Damnation’ record. You can believe something special will occur here if a black metal band is willing to risk their ‘troo kvltness’ on such a melodic start. When the blackness arrives, it is just as bleak and mournful. The song swells with evil, a grandiose and hypnotic epic. This rivals Solar Deity as the stand out track on the compilation. Chiral are not afraid to let good song writing get in the way of their underground credentials.

The comp closes with the one two strike of Cvinger and Corruptor Ignis. The former is Slovenian, and is clearly inspired by some malignant dark beast that rages inside them. Its frantic, its raw and its fucking intense. As their homeland is a place close to my heart, I hope they do well out of this, as you’ll struggle to find much as one dimensionally vicious as this in modern black metal. When the pace slows, the feeling of unease grows. It’s fucking brutal. Corruptor Ignis finish us up with a slab of Gibraltan black metal. Yes, even the sunnier edges of what is left of the Empire is capable of summoning black magic from the depths of hell. It is difficult to appreciate the challenge of ending a compilation of some of the best bands in underground black metal, but Corruptor Ignis do it with style. They bring us to a close with some rasping black metal fury that drags you down into a suffocating atmosphere of hatred and bile.

Well, that was fucking epic. I haven’t written a review this long before, and normally I wouldn’t give each song so much depth but since each band deserves their own individual moment, I felt it was only fair. Most of these bands I shall endeavour to support financially with some physical purchases. Some I shall wait to hear more from. All I will recommend to people who like good music. Support these bands and buy this comp! Hail the Legions of Satan!

A band I reviewed a while back on a split CD with Forneus and Hex Morbidity, Baalberith are long running stalwarts of the underground black metal scene in the UK. This is their fourth full length, with many splits, demos and EPs out there over the years. A band I was never familiar with until the guys at Hex Morbidity asked me to review their split, I thought they were pretty decent. I jumped at the chance to get myself a full length copy from Sixsixsix Music of their new record, ‘Apparition of Skulls’. As I’ve said before, splits are generally not my thing as I prefer to get to know a band over a full release.

‘Apparition of Skulls’ opens with the thundering ‘Quest for Satan’. A full throttle, writhing and snarling black metal beast, the devastating battery of double bass underneath is particularly heavy. Replete with savage, vocal incantations of praise for the Horned One, ‘Quest for Satan’ is a remarkably strong opener, and sets the tone for what is to come. Baalberith play black metal in the way that a brutal combination of Immortal and latter period Mayhem would. There’s dashes of atonal melodies in there too, bringing to mind the more headfucking moments of someone like Blut Aus Nord. While previously thinking this was the weakest track from them on the split, it makes perfect sense as an album opener.

‘Battle for the Blazing North’ is a more galloping beast, after a soaring opening section, and a thrusting, urgent blast. Baalberith show more variety in the first two tracks than a lot of black metal bands manage in a career. The soul of traditional heavy metal lives somewhere inside this blackened malevolence, and every so often it breaks through. Something to also highlight is the harsh, gurgling vocals. A welcome change from the more traditional banshee howls, vocalist Razakel gurgles and rasps his way through these 35 minutes, sounding for all the world he’s gargling fetid blood. It’s TOTALLY metal.

The quality fails to disappoint at any moment, and the overall standard is fantastic. From the mournful, gloomier intro to the title track, which channels elements of death/doom titans Winter into a lurching, crawling beast, to the rapid fire ‘Bloodshed’, Baalberith are a hidden gem. ‘Infinite Malevolence’ brings the groove and more of those spiralling atonal melodies that are just killer.’Abortion of Religious Futility’ is a mournful wave of black metal that crashes upon the shores of your mind, and ‘Killing on Impulse’ finishes the record up strongly, all flailing riffs and savage growls.

‘Apparition of Skulls’ may not be the best black metal album you’ll hear all year, but it is definitely different enough, and good enough, to be considered for its merits. I was perhaps a bit critical of their tracks on the ‘In Satan’s Honour’ split, as I’ve definitely found the songs to be growers. Baalberith are a band that deserve to be supported, and ‘Apparition of Skulls’ should be any black metallers must buy lists. NOW CUT YOUR FLESH AND WORSHIP SATAN!!

Split CDs are not something I’ve ever really got into too. Mostly because I prefer full length records from bands to really gauge their sound and whether I like them or not. I also find that they can sometimes be pretty hard to find commercially, but maybe thats the point. But what split records are really good at is showcasing bands in a short burst, and it is definitely a medium I’m becoming more familiar and more fond of. This three way split from members of the UK black metal underground is, for all intensive purposes, my first proper split review, and I’d like to thank the guy from Hex Morbidity who asked me to review it! (Thanks dude!)

The split starts with three tracks from Baalberith, Satanic black metallers who have been around in some form or another since 1999 (they split up as Black Death then were reformed in 2006 with a new name). ‘Abortion of Religious Futility’ is a solid opener, with waves of mournful riffs and reverb soaked vocals giving a very hellish atmosphere. ‘Quest for Satan’ is decidedly more violent and to the point, although the gurgling howl of ‘SAATAAANN!!’ is maybe a bit much The vocals areĀ  too overproduced for me in this track; too much going on to keep the lyrics clear and it all becomes a bit messy. It has a nice variety of slower sections and all out assault however which keeps it interesting musically. ‘Apparition of Skulls’ is a much slower, more suffocating and dense track. I think its the best of the three Baalberith tracks, because it has a great atmosphere of filth and evil. I’m a sucker for atmosphere in black metal songs, and this is full of it. You can feel the hate on your skin.

Hex Morbidity have a much clearer production set up than Baalberith, and a much more straightforward approach. They play black metal that is more modern and dare I say lacking in atmosphere. Maybe its the production, I don’t know. The vocals are terrific though, Jarod Lawley has a great black metal rasp. The track ‘Unbaptised’ has a catchy central riff, and is definitely the best of their three; short, sharp and brutally effective. ‘Holy Shrines’ is a bit forgettable to be honest, nothing wrong with it but nothing that grabs me. ‘Stench of Lord and Lamb’ is a lumbering exercise in almost blackened doom at the start, which is pretty cool too. It also has a suitably melodic solo, a rarity in black metal sometimes.

Onto Forneus, our final band. And I must say, personally they blow the others out of the water with their vicious blackened death metal assault. ‘Litanies of Hatred’ comes scorching out of the speakers, with a Marduk-esque regard for breathing space. There’s something refreshingly relentless about it, showering blastbeats like meteor hail. ‘Embrace the Covenant’ has an almost dissonant intro before turning into the most headbanging song on the record. The riffing is infectious, and there’s a very Swedish feel to their blackened assault; its much more Marduk and Dissection than Mayhem or Darkthrone. This is a very good thing. Too many bands plunder Norwegian black metal and ignore just over the border. They close the split with the titanic ‘Blood Eagle (The Exile)’, which is a seriously epic slice of black metal. Imagine Primordial without the pagan/Celtic influence, and you’re about there. It is a seriously impressive song, and is worth sitting through the rest of the split to find. A slow paced, melancholic masterpiece that fades out into the whispering sounds of madness.

Overall, the black metal underground in the UK is healthy by the looks of these bands. Forneus is my definite favourite find of the three, but the suffocating atmosphere of Baalberith and the no frills quality of Hex Morbidity add something good too. Seek it out if you can.