Posts Tagged ‘black metal’

Aethyrick - Gnosis

I reviewed the debut of Finnish black metallers Aethyrick, ‘Praxis’, here last year, and found it to be a gloriously atmospheric piece of black metal. Their followup, ‘Gnosis’, looks to build on that strong foundation and skip that ‘difficult second album’ fear. It is out now through The Sinister Flame.

Opening track ‘Will Embodied’ starts strongly enough, with rampant riffing opening up onto a bleak and cold vista. Modern black metal tends to either soar above the blizzards or delve deep into the primordial murk. ‘Gnosis’ chooses the former and is all the better for it. The songwriting is ambitious without pretention, uplifting yet miserable, and the execution is flawless. Fiery riffing sparks across ‘Stellar Flesh’, while the glowing coals of ‘Golden Suffering’ keep us all warm in these cold winter nights. Fearsome and uncompromising, and yet equally fragile and ethereal, tracks like ‘Your Mysteries’ encapsulate an almost iconic Finnish melancholy seeping through every tortured riff and snarling growl.

There’s always been a suggestion that Finnish black metal has a little something extra to its other Scandinavian counterparts. Whatever it is, this intangible, ‘Gnosis’ has it in spades. ‘Gnosis’ may just top its predecessor as Aethyrick’s best work, but this is a band that are slowly becoming an essential part of my musical collection whatever the album. This is evocative, Finnish black metal at its best.

The debut cassette release from métal noir Québécois (I hope I got that right) newcomers Anges de la Mort (ADLM) is here to shroud our world in a particularly French Canadian bleakness. It is out now through Les Productions Hérétiques.

The opening title track is exactly as you’d expect from a more modern black metal band. There’s an innate rawness to the vocal performance and the riffing but the production is great and doesn’t feel tinny or thin. The snarling ‘Mangeurs de Cadavres’ has a delicious thrashy vibe, and the fact that this is mastered by Joel Grind of Toxic Holocaust fame probably answers why. It showcases many nice dynamic pace changes too, and leads into the fiery old school black metal of ‘Que Crève le Léviathan’. This is the centrepiece, flowing with that measured blaze that latter Satyricon nailed.

Closing with the cold acoustics of ‘Ode aux Esprits Vivants’, ADLM are a welcome addition to the world’s black metal scene. Whether this varied and interesting line up of songs will stretch to a full length is the next question, but they seem to have the ability to answer in the affirmative. I look forward to it

Paganland - Galizier

‘Galizier’, the fourth album from Ukrainian black metallers Paganland follows four years later from their previous work, ‘From Carpathian Land’, and while the subject matter may appear controversial (it is dedicated to the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Galician) that fought against the Communists in the Second World War), stylistically it pays a melodic tribute to the finest and oldest forms of Slavic black metal. It is out at the end of the month through Blackest Records in Japan. I also reviewed their older release, ‘Fatherland’, here.

First off, let’s get this out of the way. This is not NSBM, despite the potential connotations of the subject matter. Having done some research into the matter, this is more about the Ukrainian struggle against the oppressions of Soviet Russia, and even current day pressures as well. Now, to the music. After the orchestral swell of the opener, first track proper ‘The Legionary’ launches full force into some prime, ice cold black metal riffing while an impassioned vocal performance switches between a snarl and some clean vocals. This retains the epic sweep that their previous work has had, lending ‘Galizier’ a grand purpose, and a more blackened folk metal tinge.

The tremendous soar of ‘In the Heart of Forever’ is truly special, while some wonderful keyboard melodies flow alongside the savagery of ‘Ideology’. Paganland’s work is more and more becoming pagan metal with black metal elements than the reverse, but how anyone can argue with the quality of cuts like ‘Galician Night’ is beyond me. ‘Galizier’ is a grandiose triumph, a passionate and fiery epic that will delight fans of their previous work, and new fans alike.

‘Epistēmē’ is the second record from Bulgarian black metallers Dimholt, and it came out at the backend of October this year, through the band’s Bandcamp page. If I was to say that you can tell immediately that this is Eastern European black metal, I think you can guess what it sound like?

‘Death Comes First’ roars from the gate, spraying the band’s obvious early Behemoth influences everywhere, but Dimholt do not just follow in the footsteps of the dark Polish gods. Full of interesting riff patterns, atonal melodies and a savage snarl, ‘Epistēmē’ is a glorious example of modern black metal. Each song is soaked in a blackened majesty, from the regal ‘Into Darker Serenity’ through the fire breathing ‘Nether’ to the eerie instant classic ‘The Hollow Men’. This is an album never content to rest on its laurels, instead always becoming something unexpected, something new and viral. Closer ‘Aletheia’ sounds like an animal, straining to be freed, begging to be unleashed upon the world, and I feel like that is a great metaphor for Dimholt themselves.

‘Epistēmē’ is making a very late play for my black metal album of the year; this is simply tremendous stuff. Potent, swirling in black magic and a righteous fury seeps through every barbed riff and rasped howl. Just listen to ‘The Martyr’s Congregation’ and prepare yourself for the sacrifice. Fucking awesome.


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.

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

Ordinul Negru - Nostalgia of the Fullmoon Nights

The remastered version of Ordinul Negru’s 2011 record, ‘Nostalgia of the Fullmoon Nights’, is out now through Loud Rage Music and this allows this raw, atmospheric and miserable slab of prime Romanian black metal to reach a bigger audience than the limited release back then.

As nasty and as raw as you’d expect, the opening track ‘Into the Fullmoon Nights’ is a clattering, raging ball of fury. The primal atmosphere reminds me a lot of early Behemoth and Darkthrone, and the bleakly intense riffing is so oppressive. Is it cliche to say that it sounds like winter in the Carpathians? Because this actually does. A blizzarding assault on the senses, wrought with an Eastern European black magic, invades every riff in the icy ‘Degeneration’, while the haunting ‘Crepuscul si blestem’ serves to remind you that black metal, at its core, is all about darkness.

‘Nostalgia of the Fullmoon Nights’ is a record carved from dark Romanian mountains, where ancient magic invades the stone and the air. Ordinul Negru have captured the feel of prime second wave black metal, and this is as ideal a tribute to that style as you can hope for.