Posts Tagged ‘Serbia’

The rerelease of Númenor’s ‘Sword and Sorcery’ on Stygian Crypt Productions is a hidden gem of Serbian power metal, and EPIC power metal at that. Drawing influence from the classics by Tolkien, Lovecraft and Howard, Númenor has added a bonus mini CD with 5 extra tracks as part of the package.

After the swelling drama of the intro track ‘Prelude’, ‘Dragonheart’ burns immediately with glorious strings and fretboard fireworks. You can sense straight away the kindred spirit this shares with both Wintersun and Rhapsody (or Rhapsody of Fire, or whatever they’re called now). It’s an excellent statement of intent, and this kind of swelling, fist raising power metal fills the rest of album with excellent songs and music. The harsher vocal/clean vocal duality gives them something a little bit different from a lot of modern power metal. The solo work in ‘The Arcanist’ is cool, and the little interlude moments add that bit of extra drama.

You can feel a bit of northern European influence in here too, with both German power metal elements and Scandinavian folk metal elements coming into force during some of the later tracks, like the Helloween-esque ‘Prince in the Scarlet Robe’ or the gleaming Gothenburg melodies that streak through the potent ‘Dragon of Erebor’. Incidentally, ‘Dragon of Erebor’ is probably up there with my favourite power metal songs this year.

I’m a bit of a sucker for a good fist-waving, overly dramatic power metal album every so often, but ‘Sword and Sorcery’ gives you all those traditional tropes but wrapped up with a bit of an edge, a bit of bite to it. That makes them stand out, and it definitely helps tracks like ‘Bane of Durin’ feel fresh and appealing. Excellent stuff!

http://www.stygiancrypt.com/

https://numenorkingdom.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/N%C3%BAmenor-130231620372144/

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Kolac - Zauvek crni

Serbian black metallers Kolac (‘The Stake’ in English) have been ploughing their savage furrow since 2008, and ‘Zauvek crni’ marks their second full length after 2011’s ‘Bastard Son is Dead’. It came out on Grom Records at the end of last year, and its a delightfully traditional black metal record.

The opening double hit of ‘U smrti zatecen’ and ‘4 boga jarca’ are both very traditional black metal assaults; from their slightly murky production to the riff patterns and the snarling vocal rasp. This is not to suggest that Kolac aren’t capable of writing a good quality song or two, (see ‘I Am Thy Devil’ as a perfect example), but their approach is no nonsense, straightforward and endearingly simple. The title track is rife with icy melodies and an obvious Immortal influence, especially in some of the croakier vocals.

For me, ‘Zauvek crni’ is a triumph of black metal traditionalism over the more atmopsheric or esoteric examples of the genre that have become much more prevalent these days. That indomitable Slavic spirit infests each frozen riff, each impassioned howl and every glacial melody. Closing with the relentless battering of ‘Mary (The God-Raped), Kolac show that Balkan black metal is strong, fierce and yet still unsettlingly melodic in places. Hail fire and Satan.

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http://www.gromrecords.net/

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Serbian black metallers Carnival of Flesh have recently been revived after a 6 year hiatus from 2008. Their particular brand of black metal has been honed from their previous work, crafting in equally quantities black metal violence and symphonic melodies.

Starting with ‘The Beginning’ (strangely), you get a sense of the depth of composition that Carnival of Flesh have put into their work. Combining chunky riffing with symphonic dashes and a clean, bass vocal line gives a dose of grandeur. This is not your tin-pot, buzzsaw black metal. This is rich with orchestral flourishes and a cracking production.

‘The Promise’ builds from the start, subtle harmony layers accompanying a Cradle-esque gothic spoken word style. This track is actually very reminscient of some of Cradle’s work, what with the symphonic elements and the eerie gothic touches. It’s a lot less dramatic, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. ‘The Horror’ possesses an almost cinematic scope in parts, while slipping in a sludgy vibe in parts. Carnival of Flesh use their orchestral arrangements well, enhancing rather than dominating the metal side of their music.

Be it the sombre sway of ‘The Pact’s opening moments, the propulsive and grandiose ‘The Battle’ or the final invocation of ‘The Regret’, Carnival of Flesh’s debut is a well rounded slab of symphonic black metal that successfully reigns in some of the excesses of the genre to craft a solid and thoroughly enjoyable debut. Proof that bombast and overindulgence does not always equate success, ‘Stories from a Fallen World’ is great.

https://carnivalofflesh.bandcamp.com/releases

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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!