Posts Tagged ‘Denmark’

Heidra - The Blackening Tide

Heidra hail from Denmark, and ‘The Blackening Tide’ is their second album, coming four years after their debut ‘Awaiting Dawn’. Musically, the band bring us a majestic, sweeping form of pagan melodeath, and the album is out now through Time to Kill Records.

From the moment ‘Dawn’ rises from the pagan shore you’re immediately engulfed in a grandiose, multilayered epic story. The opener in particular is blessed with a seriously fist pumping chorus, and you can believe that this is merely the tip of the iceberg. The galloping twin guitars of ‘The Price in Blood’ are excellent, and the clean vocals are powerful without ever being grating. ‘The Blackening Tide’ is full of great solos, enhancing these striding battle anthems that capture a world of silver swords, ancient kings and corrupted realms. There’s also a liberal sprinkling of piano and other orchestral elements that speak to the influences of more power metal fayre like Hammerfall or Sonata Arctica as well. None is more epic than ‘Rain of Embers’, although the duelling guitars of ‘Corrupted Shores’ push it close.

If there was ever to be any doubt that Europe produces the best bands with the flair for classically influenced heavy metal, then Heidra’s latest should put that to bed. A great example of thunderous melodic power/death, where symphonics meet galloping In Flames-isms to create a record that the ancient guitar gods would smile about. Cool shit

‘The Resistance’ is a 7″ accompaniment to Danish rockers Demon Head’s last record, ‘Thunder on the Fields’, and provides a fitting epilogue to that piece. An old fashioned, sinister rock two tracker due on on the 28th of April via The Sign Records, and is a haunting change to my usual heavy soundtrack.

The dusting off of old tape machines, instruments and themes provides opener ‘Rivers of Mars’ with a soulful, desert groove. Aching vocals croon over clean guitar that teases artful country and folk rock influences from a soft electric sound. Framed as a tale against tyranny, the cool factor of ‘The Resistance’ is almost overwhelming. You can imagine it playing over a smoky 60s movie, with motorcycles roaring down highways of endless sand. I’ve never come across these guys before, but these two tracks have spun repeatedly in my head since I first heard them.

Hunt out this two track piece, then find the album it finishes. Demon Head are ghostly, oozing with a quiet swagger and a fragile openness. When amidst all the headbanging and throatshredding comes this beautiful tour de force, it is more than welcome. Drift away amongst hazy smoke and grass blowing in the wind, and allow your resistance to leave you.

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This Danish duo have managed to cleave a great band name from the great metal name quarry, unique as well as evocative. Having their debut EP out on Iron Bonehead also tells you what to expect, as well as the quality underneath. Founding members of Sadogoat, and part of the equally ugly Sadomator, these guys have been spewing unholy black/death into the ether for a long time.

Opener ‘Sadomator’ is a thudding, rough and ready slab of retching death metal with dense, blackened overtones. That’s what you can expect here; some of the most primal death metal stuff there is. This is like an archaic discovery, hidden amongst brutality and technical sheen where the death spirit lives. The relentless ‘Voices in the Wind’ moves with primitive fury; lacking grace and subtlety but making up for it with purity of spirit. This is an eighteen minute assault on anything new and shiny. This is the death metal dragged from mossy crevices; from swamps of cloying tar, from darkness itself. Only that can explain the truly awesome rumble from ‘Female Goat Perversion’.

Vomit Angel are for those of us that can shy away from clean, sharp brutality and embrace the rawness, the murky fetid belch of the likes of ‘Host of Darkness’. The doomy blasting of ‘Time of the Moon’ is my highlight on an EP that should start the wheels turning on a full length. Awesome, nasty shit.


Altar of Oblivion - Barren Grounds

Danish lords of thy doom Altar of Oblivion return with their new EP ‘Barren Grounds’, a grandiose four tracks of epic as fuck melodic doom that makes you want to draw your sword and stand upon your mountain kingdom! Ok, that may be a bit over the top, but there is something magical about the purity of the heavy metal within. It is out through Shadow Kingdom Records now!

Opener ‘State of Decay’ has a regal stomp to it, like the procession of a warrior king heading to war. There’s some obvious Candlemass influence here, but glimmers of prog sneak in, and the folky, flute led ‘Serenity’ completes that retro, 70s feeling, if all too briefly. The heaving, groaning power of the title track is the pinnacle of Altar of Oblivion here; a lumbering riff oozes with soulful groove, while a versatile and bluesy vocal croons with classic doom emotion. ‘Barren Grounds’ hearkens back to the days of Sabbathian power, but with moments of NWOBHM melody and glorious passion.

Closing with the stark loneliness of ‘Lost’, Altar of Oblivion stake their claim as the most vital member of the court of doom. Emotional, heavy and chameleonic, ‘Barren Grounds’ is a work of heavy metal art, possessed of a natural charisma and swagger that most bands would kill for. Essential.

The demo of Denmark’s black metal dissonance peddlers Serpent’s Lair, ‘Demo MMXIV’, was very well received in the underground, and here at the Killchain too. Serpent’s Lair have returned with a debut full length, the scathing rage of ‘Circumambulating the Stillborn’, out now on Hellthrasher Productions in CD form, and Fallen Empire/Duplicate on vinyl.

After the intro track ‘Epiphaniea’, the winding, almost psychedelic black metal journey of ‘Epistemology of Death’ begins. A raging piece of dissonant black metal, the sheer fury of this blackened torrent is impressive. What works even more convincingly is when Serpent’s Lair slow things down a bit, and the atonal menace really begins to shine through. The title track’s malevolence is stronger during the slower sections, while a bloodgargling vocal brings to mind the scornful power of Watain.

‘Mortui Vivos Docent’ starts with eerie clean guitar, building towards an inevitable explosion of tremolo riffing, furious blasting and a tortured, rasping howl that just screams vintage Deathspell Omega. When the riffs slow, you begin the slow, inexorably descent towards hellfire and brimstone. ‘Circumambulating the Stillborn’ is a black metal album full of dark corners and unsettling tones. Serpent’s Lair are a masterful proposition, full of intrigue, menace, and most importantly, damn fine music. Hail to darkness!


Plage are a German and Danish black metal collective that specialise in just that, pure old fashioned black metal. The kind that was around before all this avantgarde stuff started. What is probably referred to as ‘trve kvlt’ by this point, but who cares about that? It’s all about the music for me. You could be as black and as evil as they come, but if you ain’t got the chops, then I don’t care.

‘En Hedensk Kriger’ launches us into 38 minutes of blackened fury with an apocalyptic bell and a threatening rumble. A buzzing riff engages your mind while a rasping croak intones its dark messages. This is vintage black metal, taking leads from all the greats, from Satyricon to Gorgoroth via Mayhem and Darkthrone in between. Vocalist Vrede has more than a touch of Abbath about it, a a pleasant change from banshee shrieks. ‘Chained by Flesh’ is a relentless frosty gem, and there’s more than a bit of Marduk about the aggressive carnage of one-two punch ‘I Am Death’ and the hailstorm of ‘Den Kannibalske Haerskare’.

While never close to reinventing this form of almost one dimensional black metal, Plage execute their album with some great songwriting and some dark passion. There’s something endlessly catchy about the title track, and when blast heavy black metal provides a couple of catchy songs, you know they’re onto to something here. The moody ‘Ihjelslar’ feels like a paeon to the lost gods of Immortal, whose influence looms large over that track. Plage’s debut full length is a joy for those of us who enjoy a black metal skullfucking with few subtleties. There is always gonna be space in my life for this!

Denmark’s Serpents Lair are the latest in a long line of quality black metal discoveries for me. This two man project has a two track demo available on their Bandcamp page, and a limited run of 200 cassettes available through Duplicate Records in Europe and Fallen Empire Records in the US.

The demo itself is two, reasonably lengthy black metal tracks of excellent quality. ‘Labyrinthine Offerings’ is first, opening with a lurching riff that rings out with atonal melodies. It then descends into a hellish assault on the senses, a flailing uncomfortable entity. It is dense, dark and suffocatingly evil. It has that unsettling quality you find in Blut Aus Nord or Deathspell Omega’s style of black metal, particularly the clearer, slower and more malevolently minor key section in the middle. It then plummets back to the blasting maelstrom of darkness. A simply stunning statement of intent.

‘Epistemology of Death’ has a lot to follow, and follow it does with almost nine minutes of majestic, roaring black metal. This is a more traditional beast, taking more influence from the icy blasts of Immortal and the sweeping grandeur of early Satyricon. Even the vastness of ‘In the Nightside Eclipse’ seems to loom over proceedings, Serpents Lair taking notes from each of these legends but creating something of their own.

Serpents Lair’s demo is truly ace. Two songs that both fulfill expectations easily, their sense of scale and atmosphere are both perfect, and their adventurous spirit is another huge positive. It is NOT ok in this day and age to simply put out uninteresting, monochrome black metal. To paint in shades of grey is the way forward, and Serpents Lair are artists in this form.