Posts Tagged ‘Finland’

A cold and melancholic black metal band from Finland, Aegrus are a two man project that really embody the spirit of true Finnish black metal; cold and raw but with a miserable coating that is almost suffocating in places. ‘Thy Numinous Darkness’ is the second full length from these guys with Saturnal Records releasing this on the 20th of October.

Opener ‘Embodiment of Chaos’ is savage, cold and bleak but later in the song an almost soaring solo appears out of nowhere, elevating this beyond your standard black metal cliches. There’s a grandiose spirit lurking amongst each heartless riff, with an infectious something hidden in the waves of screams in ‘Call of Lucifer’. Aegrus are full of these moments, where the music transcends beyond one dimensional black metal into the ethereal realms of the greats. ‘Psalms of Satan’ is a driving blizzard with ghostly vocals and eerie melodies conjuring up images of the occult.

The harrowing title track, possessed of some cool dissonant riffing in the closing stretch; the majesty of ‘The Black Streams of Death’ or the soaring glory of ‘Transcendence’, ‘Thy Numinous Darkness’ is a record that has everything you could look for in a modern black metal record. Melancholic, yet raw and savage. Cold of heart, but fiery in delivery. Aegrus are one to look out for.

https://www.facebook.com/Aegrusofficial/

http://www.saturnalrecords.com/web/

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Featuring members of Swallow the Sun and Amorphis, Hallatar may be a new band but their pedigree is impressive. ‘No Stars Upon the Bridge’ is a record based on a collection of lyrics and poems by guitarist Juha Raivio’s sadly departed partner Aleah Starbridge, and was composed with a mixture of reverence and despair. Svart Records wil release is on 13th of October, and it is a wonderful monument to Aleah’s memory.

Opener ‘Mirrors’ is monolithic in its weeping majesty, with tinkling melodies soaring above titanic riffs and guttural roars meeting soulful croons in a devastating collision. This kind of dichotomy between aching beauty and massive heaviness continues in the monstrous ‘Melt’, the ghostly ‘My Mistake’ (featuring ethereal vocals from Heike Langhans of Draconian) or the poetic acoustics of ‘Severed Eyes’. It is difficult to pull out one specific track here to recommend when this feels like a complete piece, an elegy of sorts.

‘No Stars Upon the Bridge’ is deeply affecting; haunting and powerful in its execution and is a more than fitting epitaph for Aleah, whose talent must have been incredible to inspire such a meaningful record. As her own voice draws us to a close on ‘Dreams Burn Down’, it feels like the perfect end to a record that is so emotional, so dense, so real. In a world where bands and artists strive to achieve something with an emotional connection to the listener, ‘No Stars Upon the Bridge’ is almost too much at points. A gloriously evocative memorial to the departed, but never to be forgotten.

https://www.facebook.com/Hallatardoom/

https://hallatar.bandcamp.com/track/mirrors

https://www.svartrecords.com/

A world of misery and gloom awaits you inside the new Ever Circling Wolves record, ‘Of Woe’. Shades of black metal scattered over a dense and foreboding death/doom template. I first discovered them on their stunning 2009 record ‘The Silence from Your Room’, but their new record takes them to even greater plains. It is out now on Cimmerian Shade Recordings.

The haunting ‘Coeur’ is an immediate standout, where crushing doom riffs meet death metal ferocity, but it is layered with a lot of haunting melodies, as is the gloomy power of ‘Haunted’. This is a record that plays between its main strengths of massive riffs that feel like cliffs are falling on you, and a more post metal sensibility where melodies, clean vocals and a deft grasp of how space can create excellent music. With a runtime that exceeds an hour, these nuances are very important to ensure that you don’t lose interest.

But it would be difficult to lose interest in an album that is constantly shifting your expectations. At no point are you wondering when it’ll finish, more ‘how much more of this can I get!?’. The glacial opening riffs to ‘Challenger Deep’,  the quirky savagery of ‘Lenore’, the drawn out exhaustion of epic closer ‘These Are Ashes, These are Roots’; all lead you to an inexorable collapse where you gasp for air and beg for more. ‘Of Woe’ is an album that towers above most, enschewing the obvious for a path less travelled, and getting it totally right on the journey.

https://cimmerianshaderecordings.bandcamp.com/album/of-woe-or-how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-the-gloom

https://www.facebook.com/ecwdoom/

Image result for ymir's blood self titled

Finland is probably my favourite country for metal at the moment, and especially when you’re looking towards some monstrous doom. Ymir’s Blood are the reincarnation of vintage Cirith Ungol and latter period Bathory, and their new self titled record is being given life by Archaic Sound. We must all be thankful for this, for the riffs within are huge and awesome.

Opener ‘Unleasher – Beerbarian’ seems to encompass the fantastic battle of the album art, with huge swinging riffs crashing down like sword on steel and a grandiose sweep of vast ancient lands. A swollen, lumbering giant of a track, wielding classic Candlemass like a hammer of doom (see what I did there….?). The Viking metal-esque ‘1589’ feels very Quorthon, while Gorephelia’s Henu does some guest vocals on the brutal death/doom of ‘Origin of Iron’. My own personal highlight however is the doom-laden take on Zeppelin’s ‘Immigrant Song’, which just works perfectly.

‘Ymir’s Blood’ will probably not cause much of a splash this year, but if you’re a doom fan this is going to be an essential hidden gem. A potent and remarkably assured record that wields its granite hewn riffing like a mighty battleaxe, while sharp melodies hone the edge of the blade. Ymir’s Blood are a band to watch, and hopefully this record will break them through to the wider conscience.

https://ymirsblood.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/archaicsound/

https://www.facebook.com/YmirsBlood

Finnish stoner death metal? Sign me up. Finland has a long and beautiful history of heavy metal, in all genres, and particularly in the realms of death and doom. So when Altar of Betelgeuze come crashing from the land of a thousand lakes, dragging their ‘Among the Ruins’ album with them, it is a cause for morbid celebration. It’s going to be out in April from Transcending Obscurity Records, and could be a strong contender for best record the label release this year.

Altar of Betelgeuze take the meandering melodics of stoner doom, and crush it with the dynamic heaviosity of death metal. You’re met with smooth, almost desert rock blues oozing from ‘Sledge of Stones’, coupling the ferocity of death/doom into certain parts to add some depth. The fearsome ‘No Return’ swells with a vintage doom riff, while snarling roars bellow like monsters in the fog. The clean vocals are really effective though, with dashes of Chris Cornell about them in parts.

I love some of the tones in the gloomy shimmer of ‘Absence of Light’, which underpin that titan roar perfectly. Altar of Betelgeuze manage to balance a delicate touch with the innate weight of hefty doom riffs. Death metal growls capture a desperation, a power, that balanaces the fragile melancholy of some of the cleaner guitar moments. ‘Among the Ruins’ strikes me as a lonely record; an album that grows as it progresses from a mere stoner/death crossover into a nuanced and vast piece of work. Expansive and different, there’s nothing quite like it.

https://altarofbetelgeuze.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Aobofficial

http://tometal.com/

Demonic Death Judge sounds like a sub boss in a 90s video game, and don’t even get me started on the cunning link between the stoner sludge sound, the album title and the album cover. But, before any preconceptions are made, you should definitely take a listen to ‘Seaweed’, as you’ll find some of the heaviest grooves this year lurking in the depths of this record, out now on Suicide Records.

Through the juddering behemoth of an opener, ‘Taxbear’, you’re instantly absorbed into the tar thick blues of Demonic Death Judge’s world. Think of Kyuss filtered through that swampy EyeHateGod nihilism and you’ll come close. The grooves are massive, particularly in the lumbering ‘Heavy Chase’ and in the measured melody of the title track. Ironically, for a genre that seems to be so drawn to nihilistic tendencies, all really good sludge records are imbued with an innate sense of soul, and ‘Seaweed’ is one of those. Just listen to the opening section of ‘Backwoods’ and try not to be enchanted.

Infectious riffing matches power with memorable hooks, and where sludgy groove couples with lonesome melody is where Demonic Death Judge shine. Be it in the gloomy ‘Cavity’, or the layered awesomeness of ‘Pure Cold’, Demonic Death Judge are a nuanced and talented band in a genre that tends to stick to the same sound. ‘Seaweed’ looks to be a serious sleeper hit for 2017.

https://www.facebook.com/demonicdeathjudge/

https://demonicdeathjudge.bandcamp.com/

http://www.suiciderecords.se/

Finnish black metal legends Goatmoon have been a mainstay of a thriving scene since the start of their prolific journey in 2002. Moving away from their more punkish roots, Goatmoon’s fifth full length ‘Stella Polaris’ is a rabid piece of epic black metal for us all to enjoy. It’s out in February through Werewolf and Hells Headbangers collaboratively.

After the moody acoustic intro, the rasping title track weaves a savage path through gloomy forests and icy lakes. The vocals are rough and raw, but there is more than a dash of the likes of Bal-Sagoth in the spoken word sections, and the melodies are insidiously memorable. The atmosphere isn’t as bleak as a lot of black metal, but the pervading cold infests each track. The beautiful solo that accentuates the title track is a surprise, while the melancholic ‘Kansojen Hävittäjä’ gives body to the vibrant yet snowy album art.

The deft mixture of scathing, blasting black metal and delicate acoustics really bring ‘Stella Polaris’ to life, from the mournful ‘Sonderkommando Nord’ to the dynamic ‘Overlord’. You can see why Goatmoon have been such a crucial element to Finnish black metal over the years, as their material possesses a feral majesty. ‘Stella Polaris’ looks to be a record that will be haunting your mind for the rest of the year. Cold, sad and utterly spellbinding.

https://werewolfrecords.bandcamp.com/album/stella-polaris

https://www.facebook.com/werewolf.rex

https://www.facebook.com/Goatmoon-140464269432330/