Posts Tagged ‘black metal’

Akerbeltz - Satanic

Spanish black metaller Akerbeltz have been ploughing an evil furrow since 1996, and you would struggle to find a poor effort in amongst the six full lengths and numerous splits they have put out. The newest record, ‘Satanic’ is coming out in June on BlackSeed Productions and is another fury laden romp through dark and bleak places.

Opener ‘The Red Dragon’ draws much inspiration from the endless blasting of Marduk, and the croaking Abbath. Crafted from the most traditional of black metal riffs, songs like ‘A Deed Without a Name’ or the harsh ‘The Crypt’ are glorious to the ears of cold hearted traditionalists. Blasting drums help to enforce that blizzard like assault, while the raspy vocals invike the demons of the north.It seems cliche to claim surprise at the fact that Akerbeltz come from warmer climes, yet are capable of invoking such bleak frozen music but that doesn’t make it any less accurate. Feel the flames of ‘Opus Satanic’ wash over you and cleanse this place of non believers, and you will have faith.

Foreboding atmospheres complete a record that shies away from experimenting and rest comfortably within its traditional cocoon. Akerbeltz are great at what they do, and ‘Satanic’ sits proudly amongst some of the best and most fire breathing black metal in my collection. For that, tradition must be respected.

https://blackseedprod.bandcamp.com/album/satanic-2

https://akerbeltz.bandcamp.com/

Atmospheric black metallers Wiegedood return with the follow-up to their debut ‘De Doden Hebben het Goed’ with the cunningly titled ‘De Doden Hebben het Goed II’. These Belgians are crafting some of the most exciting black metal within the atmospheric lexicon, and ‘…II’ looks to continue that reputation. It is out already on Consouling Sounds.

Opener ‘Ontzielling’ tears from the speakers, with an intense fury that hides a deft melodic touch within. It soon opens up into a bleak, vast landscape, with the howling riffs a scything wind, cutting through the air. The haunting guitar work at the start of ‘Cataract’ begins what is my highlight of the entire album; a monstrous ghostly beast that builds from a shimmering height to blast down upon us like icy hail. The dynamic shifts are phenomenal, when gloomy tones are blown away by flames of black metal proper.

The winding, labyrinthine title track leads onto raging closer ‘Smeerkble’ that takes the album to it’s logical conclusion. Spacious, yet playing suitable tributes to the blackness of old, Wiegedood have hit upon a perfect formula for modern black metal. Savage, yet measured, bleak yet uplifting. Cold yet blazing with glory. ‘De Doden Hebben het Goed II’ is a triumph of black metal!

https://wiegedood.bandcamp.com/releases

https://www.facebook.com/wiegedood

http://consouling.be/

The delightfully dissonant ‘Pest’ was a highlight of 2015 in black metal, and Norse’s new full length has been a release I’ve been looking forward to for a while. ‘The Divine Light of a New Sun’ is due out at the end of May, and looks to continue the burgeoning reputation of these Australians in the bleak world of black metal.

Opener ‘Supreme Vertical Ascent’ throbs with otherworldly menace, with bursts of double bass meshing into atonal riffs and snarling vocals. Imagine the hurricane of sound that you get from Portal, but strip it down to a less distorted form, losing none of the fear instilled within. ‘Drowned by Hope’ flails wildly, and the crawling menace of ‘Telum Vitae’ is my personal highlight. You would be pushed to find another band on the planet that is taking black metal to such unique, twisted and dark places. ‘The Divine Light of a New Sun’ is some revolutionary stuff.

The storm of ‘Exitus’ tears through the labyrinthine darkness that Norse find themselves mired within. They are ugly, dissonant and thoroughly brutal, when atonal death metal riffs impose themselves throughout ‘Synapses Spun as Silk’. ‘The Divine Light of a New Sun’ looks to be one of this year’s most interesting and most challenging records. Norse have written something inhuman, suffocating and rabd here, and it is simply stunning.

https://norsemetal.bandcamp.com/album/the-divine-light-of-a-new-sun-dissonant-black-metal

https://www.facebook.com/norse.official/

http://tometal.com

Nargaroth - Era of Threnody

If you don’t know Nargaroth, then your black metal knowledge is FALSE! The long running German black metal legend has returned with the first new full length since 2009, ‘Era of Threnody’, and it’s out on Inter Arma Productions on the 16th May. It is everything you can want from a Nargaroth record and more, channelling mainman Ash’s vision of black metal in its purest forms.

Opener ‘Dawn of Epiphany’ clambers from the mists with cold acoustic guitar before a snarling tremolo riff slices through the miasma and leads us onwards and hellbound. Ash’s cold snarl penetrates each bleak melody with savage intent, but the dynamics of this record are staggering. ‘Whither Goest Thou’ has a great mix of quieter, reflective moments and fiery black metal traditions. There are moments that soar on blackened wings where almost symphonic elements intrude, like the vast scope of ‘…As Orphans Drifting in a Desert Night’. There are also harrowing moments of black violence, like the scathing ‘Love is a Dog from Hell’ and the miserable gloom of ‘My Eternal Grief, Anguish Neverending’.

‘Era of Threnody’ is an album that encapsulates everything pure about the horrors of black metal; the cold bleakness, the snarling rage and the icy delicacies that play out upon heartless acoustic guitar. A thick production brings a warmth to the sound that previous releases have lacked, and it almost feels like ‘Era of Threnody’ has moved beyond mere lo-fi black metal hate into something a bit more rounded and sophisticated. ‘Era of Threnody’ is a triumph of black metal, and a re-establishment of Nargaroth as the underground force that they are.

https://www.facebook.com/officialnargaroth/

http://www.interarmaproductions.com/

The Lords of the Land festival in Glasgow has some serious issues to contend with this year. First of all, how was the lineup ever going to match last year’s Carcass/Obituary/Napalm Death/Voivod magic? And secondly the small matter of the Heavy Scotland event in Edinburgh on the same weekend, featuring Grave, Arch Enemy and Behemoth, as well as others. Well, the lineup proved to be as competitive, if not superior, as you could want. I mean, black metal and death metal legends colliding with thrash and even a bit of grind and doom. FUCK YEAH! The old Barrowland ballroom played host once again.

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Opening at the unbearable 12:30pm slot, Rotten Sound were fucking ace. The half hour slot is designed for grindcore bands, and Rotten Sound played to an impressively full Barrowlands considering the time of day. They were sharp, visceral and, best of all, allowed me the opportunity to get a hold of an HM-2 pedal tribute shirt. Killer start to the day, that only improved with the advent of Memoriam. Coming from a guy who named his blog and inspiration after a Bolt Thrower song,  I can honestly say that Memoriam are more than worthy successors to the crown. Karl Willets was in fine form, and massive riffs cascaded upon us lucky few. Willets remarked that this was a celebration of life through death metal, and nothing is more true.

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Next up was the hilarious vitality of Acid Reign, old school British thrash that felt so alive and vital it made me smile. So did the stage banter, with ‘Hello Edinburgh’ getting a particular chuckle. They were high energy, frontman H racing around the stage, encouraging all kinds of crowd participation and almost shitting himself when caught stagediving and taken to the back of the room before being ran forward and chucked back onto the stage. Mental. Mental is also how you would describe the aural waves of terrifying brutality emanating from Dragged into Sunlight, who took the stage behind clouds of smoke and a ghostly, huge candelabra. Their blackened sludgey noise was fearsome, and the fact that the band spent the whole show with their backs to us added to the esoteric mystery surroundng them.

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I took a break from the action during Venom Inc, so I couldn’t pass comment on them but I got back just in time for Marduk’s ‘Heaven Shall Burn’ set which, like every Marduk show, was full throttle black metal of war and darkness. Yet again I had the pleasure of getting ‘Accuser/Opposer’ with Nemtheanga live, and they closed with ‘Panzer Division Marduk’! Speaking of Primordial, they have become a band that have transcended beyond what we would consider simply ‘pagan black metal’, becoming the embodiment of what Bathory strode towards. Nemtheanga’s vocals command immediate attention, like a monstrous and apocalyptic preacher. The stunning ‘Babel’s Tower’ and the enthralling ‘The Coffin Ships’ were particular highlights in a flawless set of blackened doom grandeur.

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Image may contain: one or more people

The stage darkens, smoke billows from under the drumkit and deep, blue lights shroud the oncoming storm of black metal perfection that is Mayhem, and ‘De Mysteriis de Satanas’ complete. Worth the price of admission alone, the howling ‘Freezing Moon’ and savage ‘Pagan Fears’ remind you about how all black metal owes so much debt to this record. Atilla Csihar’s vocals sound like the voice of Satan himself, and draped in a black cloak and then as a demonic priest, he embodies the dark magic infusing each frozen riff. Hw can anyone follow this?

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Well, Autopsy with every vintage death metal riff ever just about managed. You don’t realise just how much they’ve influenced the genre, until you think about how every ‘old school’ death metal band basically stole everything fom them. Rabid fury crashes into sludgey, evil riffs while vomitous vocals spill from behind Chris Reifert’s drumkit. Despite the fact that we are approaching 11 hours into the day, I think that this was the best moment of the night. Tiredness overwheming us, the first time these legends have graced Scottish shores in 27 years mean that we were reinvigorated enough to show them our appreciation.What a fucking triumph.

Italy seems to be a place where metal in all its myriad genres seems to thrive. But atmospheric, miserable black metal seems to be a particular strong point, and add Enisum to that list. ‘Seasons of Desolation is the follow up to their much praised ‘Arpitanian Lands’ from 2015, and it is out at the end of April on Avantgarde Music. Almost an hour of miserable black metal awaits.

Opener ‘Autumn of Melancholy’ is a monolith of gloomy despair, where raspy shrieks soar within icy riffs and a weeping atmosphere. A masterfully cold and misty forest of an album, ‘Seasons of Desolation’ keep going back to the well with dark, dense riffing and insidiously glorious melody underneath. Songs fight against the darkness, aching to break through the clouds of hopelessness but can’t ever quite make it. Infernal streams of molten black metal pour from ‘…of Desolation’, while a cloying rain soaks the depressing ‘Nameless Sadness’.

The crushingly brutal ‘Obscure Depths’ is my favourite track here, taking a slightly heavier approach. Enisum are perfect for that rainy spring day, when the odd crack of sunshine appears through torrential rain. Built and crafted for misery but plagued with moments of hope, ‘Seasons of Desolation’ is a tour de force of black metal excellence, steeped in depressive moods. Well worth finding.

https://avantgardemusic.bandcamp.com/album/seasons-of-desolation

https://www.facebook.com/enisum/

http://www.avantgardemusic.com/

For all it may lack in the traditions and anarchy of the Norwegian scene, the American black metal scene has some incredible musicians in it. Highland are the newest addition, releasing their debut full length ‘Loyal to the Nightsky’ in May via Bandcamp. This is some exhilarating black metal for traditionalists, with relentless riffing from start to finish.

From the use of the word ‘Nightsky’ in the album title, you may think that you’Ll be getting some kind of Emperor knock-off here, but that is certainly not the case. Highland may lack the grandeur of Emperor but that in no way means that they lack the finesse. They are visceral and almost early Satyricon like in their execution. Take the savagely direct ‘Towards the Absolute’ as example; cold buzzing riffs swirl around combinations of blasting and more straightforward drumming, while a scathing yet easily comprehensible snarl leads us onward. There are more gloomy tracks too, where the bile is toned back a bit, like parts of ‘Abu Sindi’, or the intro to the dark ‘Immortal Queen’.

The menacing ‘Burning in Forgotten Times’ is my highlight; a bleak crawl into the void with some doomy riffs (rad Iommi-isms) and a overwhelming negativity about it. But you could take most of the songs here and find purest second wave worship of the highest order. Like a more waspish Marduk, or Impaled Nazarene, Highland show that the USBM scene isn’t just atmospheric sky staring, but there is a bleak, cold and ruthless set as well. Feel the icy rage of ‘Wallachian Night Terror’ and tell me I’m wrong.

https://highlandmetal.bandcamp.com/album/loyal-to-the-nightsky

https://www.facebook.com/highland666