30 May 2016

Haiduk: "Spellbook"

Howling cyclone of riffs and melodies
One man bands have been shaping the black metal genre for years, prime examples being artists like Burzum or Arckanum. The basic concept is, by now, a mainstay within the genre. Cue Haiduk, a one-man project conceived and carried out by Luka Milojica, who has since 2009 been combining elements of black and death metal in a powerful mix, forged in the sub-zero melting pot of Canada.

27 May 2016

Nicola Cruz: "Prender El Alma"

The ethnotronic El Dorado the world has been waiting for
Ecuadorian musician Nicola Cruz' musical upbringing in both Western and traditional folkloric tunes serves him very well on his first full length record, Prender El Alma. Though he started out as a percussionist before becoming the electronic music producer and DJ that he is today, his music is still tightly bound to flexible rhythmics. Cruz testified that his ambition for the album was to be a direct result of his many years of musical exploration, and in that I would say he succeeds.

26 May 2016

Aum: "Of Pestilence"

Hong Kong black metal with no gimmicks or lame frills
Featuring fully half of the members of Hong Kong thrash maniacs Aortic Regurgitation, Aum worships at the altar of black metal. Having started out in 2010, it wasn't until 2012 that the Of Pestilence EP found its way from the trio's minds to our ears.

Though Aum are clearly influenced by the second wave of black metal from the Nordic countries, there is a touch of melody present that sternly sets them apart. To the sound of blast beats, the riffs sound like a mix of Immortal and Celtic Frost, with the vocalist ranging somewhere between Abbath and Tom Warrior. Though focused on high speeds, Aum produce some easily discernible riffs that are highly enjoyable in their ruthless simplicity.

25 May 2016

Eldjudnir: "Angrboda"

Danish underdogs surprise with immense value in a crowded market
Black metal in general has changed a lot over the years, this goes without saying. Where the raw, cold sounds of Mayhem ruled the 90s, the drawn out, foggy compositions of Wolves in the Throne Room rule today. In Denmark, bands like Solbrud and Sunken loom at the front, while Eldjudnir lurks in the background. Eldjudnir is the project of one Jakob Sture, who is also involved in the esoteric blackened death metal band Apparatus, the grindcore ensemble Gestapolis and blackened hardcore group LLNN.

24 May 2016

Dying Inside: "Dystopia"

Surfin' Nicaragua on waves of melody and groove
As is the current trend, the melodic death metal outfit from Nicaragua, Dying Inside, has more emphasis on the melodic part than the death part. While they are certainly taking cues from the original Swedish scene, their sound is not as close to the traditional Gothenburg sound as one would expect.

Heavy use of powerful drumming, courtesy of Ronal Arroliga, makes for some equally powerful metal, and there are indeed times when the headbanging factor on the band's debut album Dystopia reaches critical mass. Simple processions of guitars, bass and drums drive the music forward in a headbanging-friendly style, but at the same time the quintet's compositions never fully take off and reach their full potential. The melody is there, and the groove likewise, but the climax is either premature or completely absent.

23 May 2016

Beyond Mortal Dreams: "Dreaming Death"

Exceeding critical mass as the band explodes
Expectations mean a lot. When a band severely exceeds expectations, that makes for a whole different experience. With a name like Beyond Mortal Dreams, you sure wouldn't expect death metal as convincing and heavy as is the case with the Dreaming Death EP.

The band has been around in some form or another since the early 90s, but didn't adopt the Beyond Mortal Dreams moniker before 1995. Their long history lends them a certain credibility which is brutally underscored by the vicious skills in the art of death metal. Dreaming Death is only the fourth release as Beyond Mortal Dreams, but it speaks volumes of the band's abilities and of great things to come.

22 May 2016

Morgue of Saints: "Sleep/Death"

Lamentations of the downtrodden legions of doom
From the vast nature of Canada comes Morgue of Saints, a band created by Elliot C as an outlet for his own droning, ambient doom tendencies. The album in question, Sleep/Death, is a three track conceptual piece that slowly sways back and forth among a myriad of influences, currents and styles.

From minimalistic drones in the style of early Earth, to heavy ambient funerals, Sleep/Death has a little bit of everything in the spectrum of gloomy, downtrodden processions. Through droning, bass-heavy guitars and atmospheric moods, Morgue of Saints invokes several moments of experimenting noise and horrifically cinematic doom.

21 May 2016

Manifestor: "Old Monster"

Short and rough, a violent riot in its own right
Being a thrashy death metal band from Gothenburg, Sweden, you'd expect Manifestor to be just another one of your average run of the mill bands with fuzzed out guitars, trashy bass, bland vocals and programmed drums. After all, it's not that much of a stretch of imagination. But what Hatetriot and Asbest, the two sick brains behind the band, have created is a bit more surprising.

20 May 2016

Disco Rundown: Blind Guardian

Blind Guardian - A Tale of Power and Speed
Evolving from the speed metal band Lucifer's Heritage in 1986, Blind Guardian have been turning heads on the international power metal scene ever since. With ten full length albums and a slew of other releases in their back catalogue, by 2015 they're a heavy metal mainstay. Almost universally acclaimed, every album shows a band still ready for more with fresh ideas and hard-hitting compositions.

19 May 2016

Narrow House: "A Key to Panngrieb"

Gloomy moods with a graveyard backdrop
Funeral pyres burn in the wake of Narrow House's A Key to Panngrieb album. The band hails from Ukraine, from where they launch their crusade of bleak doom metal, prensenting the world to their eldritch sounds first in 2012. Like the strange creaking and moaning of that long-abandoned house succumbing to decrepitude up on the hill outside town, the four tracks on A Key to Panngrieb seems almost like a natural force.

18 May 2016

Only A Shadow Remains: "The Grinding Stone"

Full speed ahead with no time to stop to think about an ending
With today's level of technology and the ready availability of recording equipment, one-man projects posing as full bands are far from rare. More often than not, the lack of varying input results in some rather stale and directionless concotion. Though Only A Shadow Remains is but one of many solo projects by Maryland resident Armon Nicholson, his thrashy metal tunes in this incarnation is anything but directionless.

17 May 2016

Soliloquium: "When Silence Grows Venomous"

Promising delivery of captivating ideas
Soliloquium started out in Sweden in 2011, and already by 2012 they had released this demo. The band consists of two people, Jonas Bergkvist and Stefan Nordström, both also part of the bands Ending Quest and Desolator. For Soliloquium the duo have held on to their death metal roots, but by mixing it with a cold and melancholic strain of doom metal, the aesthetic changes drastically. Seeming almost customary for the region of Northern Europe, their style recalls early Katatonia, Swallow the Sun, Ghost Brigade, October Tide and the like.

16 May 2016

Belfegore: "Belfegore"

Glimmering in the darkness of the mid-eighties
Throughout the gothic rock scene's height of popularity in the 80s Belfegore, a three-piece from Germany, stands out now as one of the seemingly forgotten gems, and a testament to the era's sound outside of the UK. Belfegore's career was short-lived, however, and in the few years they were active they produced only a few releases, most notable of which is arguably their self-titled album from 1984. Nowadays the album is widely available, partially because of Elektra's wide production and distribution of the album back then.

15 May 2016

Lamia Hyde and the Southern Witches: "Conjuring Lamia"

A band that gives bad music a worse name
Lamia Hyde and the Southern Witches is, in itself, a rather awful band name. With a biography that pretentiously lists their style as dark, hypnotic music with a touch of inspiration from black metal, mythology and horror films, hopes that their debut demo Conjuring Lamia can be anything other than dreadful are slim. However, one must have an open mind.

14 May 2016

Agamotto: "Agamotto"

Unfriendly music for dark thoughts and contemplation
Though perhaps lacking a bit of the first mover credibility of entities such as Brian Eno, Steve Reich, Lustmord or Throbbing Gristle, Agamotto borrows heavily from all those. Mixing industrial and ambient fluctuations in a current of deviating intensity and feel, the Italian being rests surely on groundwork lain by great predecessors.

13 May 2016

Aquila: "Aquila"

Bargain-bin classic and sunshine-driven ambition
Aquila is a popular name among bands and music groups. The one in question here i the semi-obscure 70s prog band from the UK. Like so many underrated bands from this era they only ever made one LP, the eponymous Aquila album. If the original gatefold version from RCA Victor, which fetches a pretty penny, is too pricey for you, Klimt Records as late as 2014 reissued the album on crisp, black vinyl.

12 May 2016

Bloodwraith: "As Above, So Below"

Slighty below par, and highly unadventurous
With bands like Sarcófago and Hellhammer having already explored the thrashiest reaches of dirty black metal by the late 80s, Wargoat has his work cut out for him if he wants to stand out among the throngs of imitators with his Bloodwraith project.

Born out of the ashes of his previous project Shadows of Sin, Kevin Wargoat remains the driving force. As Above, So Below from 2012 marks the debut of Bloodwraith as a new band. Donning the mantle of first wave black metal in all its gritty, unrefined familiarity, the album aims at a sound easy to do but difficult to master.

11 May 2016

No Peace of Mind: "Purify the Hope"

Instrumentations rule over vocals in this mix of old and new
No Peace of Mind, a hardcore band from Istanbul, Turkey, of all places, belongs to the segment of the genre where a strong rhythm section reigns supreme. With clean and harsh vocals alike, the band explores the shallow depths of melodic hardcore with a few different twists and turns along the way.

10 May 2016

Tempel: "On the Steps of the Temple"

Eloquent and lengthy compositions that amaze and confound
With the djent craze spiraling out of control, and the rest of progressive metal mostly resorting to over-exotic twiddle-twaddle space-tech guitar snobbery, there is a great shortage of worthwhile bands to be found unless you do some digging. Though not a progressive band with every atom of its being, Temple serves up some great prog tendencies in an environment that reeks non-conformity.

9 May 2016

Hell Preachers Inc.: "Supreme Psychedelic Underground"

The mysterious psych gem that time forgot
This one is a real music curiosity. The mythos surrounding it is quite substantial, probably playing a vital role in its now cult status. The original vinyl release by the label Europa warrants prices up to €65 depending on quality. Shrouded in mystery, it all starts out with the lack of information on the album. No mention of the bandmembers, no inlay, no country of origin or release year (though some point to 1968 as a possible year of release). Everything from the colourful cover art and name to the song titles are pretty standard mainstays in late sixties psychedelic rock bands. It is speculated that the band itself never really was that - a band. But rather that Hell Preachers Inc. was a constructed entity meant to cash in on the commercial success that the psychedelic vibes of harder rock bands were enjoying at the time.

8 May 2016

Sunken: "The Crackling of Embers"

Funerary encounters keeps the genre fresh in a uniform atmosphere
Despite some early but quite substantial lineup changes, Denmark's Sunken succeeded in releasing a 26 minute demo of atmospheric black metal with The Crackling of Embers within the same year of their creation. A quick release like this could indicate two things; A rushed writing and recording process, or a result of the fervor of a newly started band eager to write and perform.

7 May 2016

Edge of Haze: "Mirage"

Heavy rock and light metal in unison
Donning your heavy metal glasses, Finland has long had a tradition of esoteric death, gloomy death, upbeat folk and gothic symphonies of power. Edge of Haze, however, seem completely unwilling to adhere to any dogmas, metal or otherwise. Though their sound is fresh and modern, it is by no means a pandering to trend. On their 2012 album Mirage, the Finns reveal themselves to be a powerful quintet with influences that reach far beyond the realm of metal.

6 May 2016

RJD2: "Dame Fortune"

Refusing to conform, RJD2 explores a vast catalogue of musical history in an effort that delivers almost as much as it promises
RJD2 is a household name to many. With a lengthy career behind him, he continues to release new music to this day, the ever-evolving chameleon that he is. On his tenth full length album, Dame Fortune, the American producer has again moved in a new direction - A direction that was foreshadowed by the soulful compositions found on his last album, the collaboratory hip hop-soul album with Philadelphia rapper STS from 2015. On Dame Fortune RJD2 keeps to his soulful new angle, but not without venturing into a great many other fields.

5 May 2016

Xasthur: "Parole Fearing"

A legend returns in a new guise
Xasthur shouldn't need much of an introduction to fans of black metal. Created originally in 1995 by Scott "Malefic" Conner, the entity was a cornerstone of American black metal until he ceased the project in 2010. In 2012 Conner started Nocturnal Poisoning, an acoustic folk project with stripped down aesthetics, vocalless and not always accompanied by rhythm instrumentation or percussion.

Though not an actual continuation of the depressive tunes of his former project, the melodies in many ways felt akin to those of Xasthur. In 2015 Conner announced that he would be performing Nocturnal Poisoning material under the Xasthur name, and on April 29th 2016, a new song surfaced.

4 May 2016

Skinfather: "Succession / Possession"

Prodigious death metal, executed at the hands of Skinfather
Death metal never quite goes out of fashion. Death metal is always the new black, and when you thought every aspect of death metal had been put completely through its paces, a new band comes along and resuscitates it. The American death metal band Skinfather may not be the most unique of bands, but they excel at what they do, to the point that they might as well have been one of the heavy weights from back in the day.

3 May 2016

Six in Line: "U Shud Hev Invtd Me"

A bit too fun without too much thought about substance
Metal doesn't have to be serious business all the time, but it helps when the music doesn't have to be held up by a gimmick like comedy and humour. Seriousness about your craft and ideals can often be misinterpreted as self-importance and arrogance, or come off as goofy. Most comedic bands, however, are too caught up in their own inside-jokes to worry about the actual quality of their music. Everything in moderation.

2 May 2016

Malichor: "Lurkers in the Crypt"

Flaming thrash metal riffs in a furious black metal environment, enveloped in mystery
Blackened thrash metal has potential to be both extremely energetic and well-composed, but also to be a standardised mish mash of boring riffs and d-beats. Perfected by bands such as Deströyer 666, Aura Noir, Desaster and more, it's a genre where the best are incredible and the rest are usually awful. So where does Malichor fit in with all this? Hailing from Australia, their nationality would suggest that they belong at the top together with D666, Razor of Occam, Gospel of the Horns and Nocturnal Graves.

In many ways Malichor take the high road. Their lovecraftian themes fit the genre very well, but their main strength lies within the music itself. Straight to the core black and thrash in equal amounts, shredding tremolos and rolling d-beats front the riff-fest that is the Lurkers in the Crypt EP. Their recipe for disaster consists of iconic and catchy riffing over a high tempo rhythm section, which in turn is made up of a powerful and audible bass and a drummer with noticable flair and a surplus of energy. D Defiler's vocals, too, show great range in roaring growls and classic rasping.

1 May 2016

Hell United: "Aura Damage"

There are no breaks on this Polish blackened death metal train
No doubt that Poland has produced its fair share of good metal bands. Apart from the popular choices like Behemoth, Hate and Vader, we have previously also become acquainted with bands like Pandemonium, Centurion, Embrional, Sphere, Stillborn and Empatic at this site. Like most of those bands, Hell United seeks to combine the evil dogmas of black, death and thrash metal alike in one deadly concoction.