Posts Tagged ‘Skiddaw’

I’ve waxed lyrical on here before about the quality of Cumbrian black metal, and about Skiddaw in particular in the past. That’s why I’m happy to say we finally have a new Skiddaw album, their debut full length called ‘For the Triumph of Evil’. This is forty eight minutes of rain drenched, icy cold black metal from lonely mountains in the north of England.

After the gloomy opener ‘Skiddaw Forest’ builds and swells to the crashing frenzy of ‘Christ Vanquished’, you instantly feel the step up in songwriting from their debut EP. ‘Christ Vanquished’ is a clattering ode to the likes of Gorgoroth or Mayhem, but ‘Oathbreaker’ has expansive moments that remind of ‘Nightside’-era Emperor. Relentless blasting meets instrumental expanse that fleshes out the music well, and allows Skiddaw to drift above the one dimensional black hordes. Their black heart beats proudly, but there’s more to them that meaningless plagiarism.

The cry of ravens ushers in the dark melancholy of ‘Skiddaw Towers’, while the scathing hellfire of ‘Venom Wax’ leads into the gloomy ambience of ‘Under Ebon Shades’. This is an eeire respite before the clattering rage of ‘Abyssal Descent’ and the black miasma of ‘Gate of Beleth’. Skiddaw have crafted a polished, black gem that oozes darkness and evil while sounding fantastic. The warm production gives the impression of a rusty razorblade dipped in hot blood, accentuating the sharpness and the savagery on show.

Closing with the relentless beating of ‘Even Titans Fall’, ‘For the Triumph of Evil’ is a new standard in modern UK black metal; thoroughly old school but fresh, crisp and well written. Black metal is easy to do badly, but Skiddaw are carving out a pretty nice niche for those of us who appreciate traditional black metal with enough nuances to make it interesting. Kudos to these guys!

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!

If there’s one thing that really ticked all the boxes for me last year, it was my discovery of some seriously good Cumbrian black metal bands. It’s not a surprise really, the area lends itself perfectly to the style. Equal parts bleak and beautiful, harsh and unforgiving yet majestic. Helvellyn and Torver were my two favourites from last year, and I’ve recently been sent the debut EP by another CBM band, Skiddaw. Skiddaw, for those of you who don’t know, is the fourth highest fell in the Lake District and dominates every northern view you can get. It’s a vast, grey monolith, hewn from slate and stone. An implacable and iconic landmark of the Northern Fells. Helvellyn lived up to their namesake by being both frosty and majestic. Let’s see if Skiddaw can do the same.

Opening track ‘Skiddaw Forest’ is a suitably moody intro, the sound of howling wind drawing a clear, tremolo riff from the depths. It’s restrained, dissonant and evocative. It matches no cliche black metal intros, which is a positive. First track proper, ‘Skiddaw Towers’, is an altogether different beast. Eschewing traditionally thin and vicious black metal attacks, this is a thick, meaty slice of rasping black metal fury. No banshee shrieking either, vocally it’s deeper, darker and more malevolent for it. Propelled by a thunderous drumming performance, ‘Skiddaw Towers’ is excellent, mid paced horror with some soaring guitar melodies in amongst the murk.

‘Gates of Beleth’ is more relentless in pace, a battering ram of blasting drums, vicious snarls and razor sharp riffs. It’s very reminscient of Marduk in spirit, but becomes a churning maelstrom of hatred and bile in the latter half. ‘Even Titans Fall’ is another hurtling train of blackened power. This is black metal that barrels through you, merciless in execution and dense in atmosphere. This isn’t any tinny, weedy guitar riffing, plastic drum kit, made-in-my-mum’s-basement nonsense. This is thick, raw black metal with meat, with savagery, with darkness. Skiddaw match their namesake well; unforgiving and bleak. I love it