Archive for June, 2012

Gratuitous Birthday Playlist Post

Posted in black metal, blackened death metal, dead, funeral mist, marduk, mayhem, musings, poland, sweden, the netherlands, true norwegian black metal, underground with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

Weeeeelll, ladies and gentlemen, it’s my birthday. Which means that instead of an actual post, you shall get a gratuitous, “hey everyone this is what I like” post. So shortly following will be a playlist I strung together for my birthday.

First of all, though, I wanted to express my excitement over my birthday present. I was actually at WalMart (I normally avoid WalMart like the plague; I forgot that they sometimes have stuff) getting some universal remote controls when I stumbled upon this little gem. I had a gift card from forever ago which I’ve never used, because I don’t ever go to WalMart, and my mom paid for part of it for my birthday gift.

It’s a 5 in 1 music player, which is pretty much exactly what I needed. I wanted something I could play my CDs on that had bigger sound than a boom box (this has stereo sound), a tape player, and a turntable. And this has all of that! And a line in for an mp3 player. Awesome. It makes just enough noise for my small apartment, and it’s got good sound for the price. I’m really excited about it, because now I can start buying records. I have often longed to hear Emperor on vinyl; now maybe I can.

I also managed to track down a Funeral Mist shirt. It’s much too big for me to wear, but I plan on making art of it anyhow (although I am keeping an eye out for one in my size as well for the reason of actually being able to wear a Funeral Mist shirt).

So now, for the playlist! (It goes to 11, as all things metal should, and also because 11 is the biblical number for chaos and  “symbolizes the potential to push the limitations of the human experience into the stratosphere of the highest spiritual perception; the link between the mortal and the immortal; between man and spirit; between darkness and light; ignorance and enlightenment.” (Numerology.com)

1. The Devil’s Blood- Voodoo Dust

The Devil’s Blood is one of my favorite bands right now. I recently saw them on the Decibel Tour and ye gods were they amazing. The Mouth of Satan (as she goes by) has an amazing voice.

2. Deathspell Omega- The Shrine of Mad Laughter

I just recently acquired my first DSO album, and it’s not this one. They are part of the same trilogy of albums, however, based on god, Satan, and man’s relationship to both. DSO is black metal taken to its (il?)logical conclusion, kind of like Abruptum. A structured cacophany. Fraaance.

3. Mayhem- Freezing Moon

This one is always on rotation, always. Mayhem knocked me off my feet the first time I heard them, and they, along with Funeral Mist, are probably by favorite metal band ever. This particular version my friend claims is the “best seven minutes in recorded black metal history.”

4. Agalloch- Faustian Echoes

Brand spanking new from Agalloch! Hot off the press! I get to see these guys in a couple of weeks and I’m stoked about it. I’m really digging this song right now, too, because I actually study Renaissance drama, and Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus is my favorite play.

“Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscribed
In one self place, for where we are is hell,
And where hell is must we ever be.
And, to conclude, when all the world dissolves,
And every creature shall be purified,
All places shall be hell that is not heaven.”

5. Marduk- World of Blades

I think everyone who reads this knows how I feel about Marduk, and if you want, you can read how I feel about their new album, too (in previous posts).  My favorite album of the year so far. This track is one of my favorites (dat bass). (Also, stupid YouTube commentors are stupid.)

6. In Solitude- To Her Darkness

The first time I heard In Solitude I appreciated it because I appreciate metal, but I thought it really wasn’t my style. Since seeing them live I’ve become quite a fan. They are fantastic musicians for their age, and they are very nice as well. This is my favorite off their latest, and it is also their new video!

7. Morbid- From the Dark

Back in February I said something about how it was a good day for Morbid’s “Disgusting Semla,” and got the remark “when do you ever think it’s NOT a good day for Dead?” Which is a good point. I like his voice with Morbid even better than with Mayhem.

8. Immortal- Where Dark and Light Don’t Differ

Immortal is great. They were the first band I really got into in terms of heavy black metal, probably because they are so thrashy. I have always loved them and their approach to black metal, and this album is my favorite.

9. Azarath- Throne of Skulls

Azarath is one that I have just recently learned of. They do that blackened death metal thing that Poland is so good at, and Inferno from Behemoth is also their drummer. He is one of my favorite drummers, and I am very fortunate to have seen him live.

10. Funeral Mist- Anti-Flesh Nimbus

I have lost track of how many times I have heard this song, and it never, ever, ever gets old to me. It’s hideous and beautiful, terrifying and inspiring. In other words, everything I love about Funeral Mist in one nice little package.

11. Watain- The Waters of Ain

This song is for endings. I’d say it’s in my top three of favorite songs ever. It is Watain’s magnum opus, and it even features Selim from The Devil’s Blood. Even when they start touring for a new album cycle, I hope they still end with this one. I can’t believe I *almost* saw Watain two nights in a row! (Damned visa problems).

Well, that’s it. That’s the gratuitous birthday playlist of things I am currently obsessed with (or eleven of them, at any rate). Hopefully you will get some enjoyment out of some of my personal favorites.

I shall be back with reviews soon. Next up, the new Naglfar.

Until then,

-Hagalaz

Hagalaz’ Concert Tips for Beginners

Posted in black metal, blackened death metal, concerts, death metal, grindcore, tips with tags , , , , , on June 24, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

As I was trying to come up with topics to talk about today, it occurred to me that one of the questions that often comes up on Shreddit (which I don’t visit much anymore because they offended me one too many times) on Self-Post Fridays asks for tips on how to survive your first metal show. I have contributed one or two comments to just about all of these, but I figured I would do a compilation of some of my personal suggestions here. As a veteran metal show attendee, I feel as though I am qualified to offer suggestions to ensure that you not only survive, but that you enjoy yourself too. (Note that these mostly apply to smaller venues, like clubs and bars, in the U.S.; as a metal purist I find the concept of paying to sit in a seat at a metal gig baffling.)

1) WEAR EARPLUGS.

Seriously. No matter where you are in the venue, chances are it is still too loud for prolonged exposure. “But earplugs are dorky,” you say. Look at it this way- more than likely, the band is wearing earplugs too because they like to be able to hear. Besides, if you have long hair, no one will know anyway. And if you don’t have long hair, it’s still not worth it to risk your hearing. I have been to more shows than I can count now, and I still have near perfect hearing due to the fact that I wear earplugs. And besides the obvious benefits of being able to hear, earplugs also cut down on ambient noise, meaning that usually, you can actually hear better for having them in. So wear earplugs. As I always say, the better you take care of your ears, the longer you can listen to good metal.

2) Know what you should bring with you, and what you should leave in the car.

Bring:

  • Your ID, especially if the venue has a bar attached to it somewhere. A lot of shows are 16+ or 21+. They also might need it to verify will call tickets.
  • Cash. Most merch booths will not take credit cards.
  • Credit/Debit card: if you bought your ticket online, you may need it for will call.
  • Ticket. No, really.
  • Earplugs. (I wasn’t kidding.)

Leave:

Most other things, or anything you don’t want to be carrying around all night. Ladies, leave your purse in the car. (I lock mine in the trunk). You don’t want to have to figure out what to do with it when there’s headbanging to be done. I always bring along my phone (though, as someone on Shreddit pointed out, your back pocket is probably not the best place to keep it in case it falls out. Front pocket is better), and my friends who smoke will bring cigarettes and lighters and what not. Typically, though, you really only want to bring with you what can fit in your pockets. The fewer things that can be broken or lost the better.

3) Be aware of your surroundings.

This is important for a first time gig-goer, or if you’re in an unfamiliar venue. You should probably hang back a bit until you are sure where the mosh pit will form. This is not only if you don’t want to be in it- you don’t want it to surprise you either. I’ve included this magnificent MS Paint illustration to show where the pit usually forms at small gigs, but be aware that this is not always the case and you should be aware of what’s going on around you anyway.

Magnificent MS Paint drawing.

As you can see, the pit normally forms in the center of the venue, some ways behind the rail. My choice spots usually include on the rail (which, be aware that if you are between the pit and the rail you will get pushed around some when the crowd surges, which it will), or behind the pit if it’s a show that I don’t feel the need to be right up front for. Also, you should avoid standing next to me- I don’t mosh because I am too kvlt (and also kind of small), but I have marvelously bad luck concerning the location of the pit as it seems to always start right on top of me. The pit normally stays pretty contained, but if you’re close to it, watch yourself. People can and will come flying out of it.

4) Crowd etiquette.

Metal gigs, despite what people outside the scene may think, are not just some big barbaric free for all. There are rules.

Like pit etiquette:

  • If someone falls down, help them up.
  • Mosh appropriately. No punching people in the head or other such tomfoolery. No one likes an asshole in the mosh pit.
  • If you brought your battle jacket and it has spikes on it, you should take it off before you mosh. No one wants to be impaled on your spikes. Also, for your own safety wear closed-toe shoes and avoid dangly jewelry. You don’t want those earrings torn out, dude. As a friend recently got his glasses demolished (and he wasn’t even in the mosh pit), glasses straps are probably wise as well.

 And regular crowd etiquette:

  • Don’t shove people. It’s rude. The pit generally stays inside the pit for a reason, and both people in it and people outside of it ought to respect each other’s space.
  • The rail is first come first serve. Generally, people go outside to smoke between sets and you can grab a spot there if you want one, but don’t be a jerk if you don’t get the spot you want. If you want on the rail and you didn’t get there early enough to snag your spot, sorry.
  • Respect the band’s space. Some bands don’t mind if you stage dive or whatnot, but Watain, for instance, will kick you in the face if you crawl up on their stage. Be aware of how the band you are watching feels about that sort of thing before you do it. Remember that the bands are working, and let them do their job.
  • Don’t assault the ladies. Just… don’t.

5) Have a good time!

Really. Don’t be so on edge that you don’t enjoy yourself. Remember that extreme metal gigs are a rare social gathering where you automatically have something in common with everyone else there, and that most if not all of them are just friends you haven’t met yet. At every metal gig I’ve been to, the metal “brotherhood” has been there; people are generally friendly and nice and respectful to one another, which is really all you need to know concerning etiquette. If you are concerned about something, watch what other people are doing, or seek shelter under the wing of some veteran like myself who would be happy to tell you the basics. Go and have a good time, don’t be afraid to go alone (I have never felt threatened at a show), and talk to the people around you. Metal gigs are often a safe place for people who aren’t jerks, so go, chill out, and bang your head!

I still have a lot of things to review (too much good metal too quickly for me to keep up with), so more of that later this week. Until then…

-Hagalaz

Band Spotlight: Horna (Finland)

Posted in featured artist, finland with tags , , , on June 21, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

Happy Solstice everyone! So lately I’ve been doing research and looking up bands that I see everywhere but haven’t actually ever listened to, most of which I’m finding happen to be from Finland. One of these bands is Horna, and I’ve decided to pay them a little bit of attention because they have actually been in the States recently. They didn’t make it to the Midwest, but the fact that they were even on our soil makes me happy. Maybe they’ll come back.

From Encyclopedia Metallum

[Some old-school Horna]

Horna, which means “Hell” in Finnish, got their start in 1993, with founding members Shatraug and Moredhel. Their first album (according to their MySpace. Encyclopedia Metallum has it listed as a demo, and I’m still pretty new to Horna), Hiidentorni, was released in 1996 after they cemented the rest of the lineup. Like many black metal bands, Horna’s been through a lot of lineup changes, and the current lineup features Spellgoth on vocals, Vainaja on drums, Qraken on bass, and Infection and founding member Shatraug on guitars. Incidentally, Shatraug is also in Behexen and Sargeist, Vainaja is in Sargeist, and Infection used to be in Behexen. All of this just makes stronger my belief that the entire Finnish black metal scene is made up of the same six or seven people.

[Behexen]

[Sargeist]

I’m really glad I decided to look up Horna, because they play a really interesting brand of black metal. Their MySpace describes their music as “Metal/Gospel/Religious,” which is awesome. I don’t know how much it has to do with gospel musically, they do utilize some really interesting musical patterns that you don’t hear often, and they also structure a lot of their music around brighter chords.

The strange and upbeat musical patterns may have links to Finnish folk music, which Horna have covered as well. Although they are not a folk metal band, this song did end up on one of their albums:

[With pictures of Finland. At least one humppa-inspired song is required for you to be a proper Finnish metal band.]

Although their last full-length release was in 2008 (Sanojesi Äärelle), Horna have not been just twiddling their thumbs. Last year they released an EP called Adventus Satanae, which does not seem to be out in the U.S. yet (although maybe I just can’t find it). In fact, they don’t seem to do much kicking back at all; Horna has released since 1998 7 full-length albums, 10 EPs, 3 compilations, 2 live albums, and have been featured on 15 splits. That, my friends, is A LOT of Horna. Which is awesome.

[Horna live at Maryland Death Fest this year]

*Most* of Horna’s music is in Finnish, which I appreciate as one of those languages I will probably never be able to comprehend (apparently it is one of the hardest languages for native English speakers to learn?). Fortunately for those of us who don’t speak Finnish, music is the universal language, and black metal has some pretty universal themes: Satanism, the occult, etc. Horna’s got this all covered, and they do it in an original way.

[Another clip of Horna live. The sound is much better on this one]

So give Horna a listen (if you haven’t already. Like I said, they are one of those bands I researched initially because I felt silly for not knowing them). For more information, and for where I gleaned mine, they have a MySpace (http://www.myspace.com/thetruehorna), a Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Horna-Official/194755433889352), and their official website, www.horna666.com.

Until next time…

-Hagalaz

Review: Lucifer Rising

Posted in black metal history, books, funeral mist, mayhem, Reviews with tags , , , , , , on June 17, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

Gavin Baddeley’s Lucifer Rising: Sin, Devil Worship and Rock and Roll is another book that my friend loaned me for research on my black metal paper. The book is largely about Satan and Satanism in pop culture, so the references to metal are supplemented by the surrounding events in the larger cultural sphere at various times. Although this book deals less specifically with black metal in particular, I much preferred it to Lords of Chaos.

from OpenLibrary.org

Mr. Baddeley clearly did a lot of research in the writing of this book, and his sources span a large amount of time. During his writing of the book he actually became a card-carrying member of the Church of Satan, and Anton LaVey allegedly told him that he was a “smart cookie.” Despite his own personal alliance with the CoS, however, Baddeley presents his information on other Satanic organizations without being derogatory. It’s easy to see where his opinion lies- he’s super snarky- but he tends to be critical across the board and is always more informational than anything. He’s also not dismissive of theistic Satanism in the way that I felt that Moynihan was in Lords of Chaos either, which was one of the things that made me bristle when reading that book.

The interaction between the music aspects of the book and the pop-culture references is really cool. For instance, the take-over of heavy metal in the 80s is put up against the backdrop of the “Satanic panic” witch-hunts in the United States, in which it was believed that cults involved in a Satanic conspiracy were practicing ritual abuse on and abducting children. Likewise, Baddeley looks at the connection between Satanism and many of the more famous serial killers- and undermines the argument that they were Satanists in most cases. The book also details the rise of the Church of Satan in response to the hippie movement and talks about the Process Church and their music.

[Some re-recorded Process Church music by Sabbath Assembly. This stuff is cool.]

Incidentally, one of the Process Church’s magazines used the same cover art as Funeral Mist’s Devilry EP, which I thought was interesting. One of the best parts of the book, I think, is the intersection where metal and pop-culture cross over.

From Encyclopedia Metallum.

Another cool part is, like in Lords of Chaos, the interviews. Baddeley talked with LaVey quite a bit. He also interviewed many other major Satanists in pop-culture, like Kenneth Anger, as well as the leaders of some Satanic organizations. There is also, for us black metal geeks, a late interview with Euronymous, who discusses his own views of the Devil and black metal.

From GunShyAssassin

I was a little confused as to what Baddeley meant when he talked about “black metal.” Of course the first and second waves are black metal, and Venom, but he did seem to be a little less exclusive with the term than I am. What other black metal bands were contemporary with Venom? I don’t know, and so that was a little confusing to me. Other than that minor confusion, however, I didn’t have any problems with this book. Baddeley is irreverent while maintaining an underlying seriousness. He’s snarky and I like that. His opinion of Moynihan also seems to be much like mine, which I will admit made me feel a little smug. Moynihan was an interviewee as well, which was kind of cool because you get to see the man not necessarily attempting to be objective like he was in writing his book. It’s easy to see where some of Moynihan’s biases lie and helps to contextualize some of the weirder parts of Lords of Chaos.

The illustrations were also really cool, and I was happy to see that the cover illustration was actually done by an American. I at first thought it was H.R. Giger, but I was wrong. It’s cool to see some Satanic artwork from my own home front. I also really loved the historical bits in the beginning, particularly Baddeley’s discussion of the gnostic cults, as that is a kind of Satanism that is very fascinating to me. I will need to do some more reading on this, clearly.

So if you are looking for a book on black metal in particular, this book may not be exactly what you need. Lords of Chaos, for all its problems, does actually address the scene itself a little better (though if you want straight from the source, pure, unaltered black metal you should read The Slayer Mag Diaries). As far as widening the scope, though, Lucifer Rising is the way to go. Unlike Lords of Chaos, it doesn’t get so close that you can’t see the forest for the trees at times, and Baddeley places the metal scene in context with the larger representations of Satan in pop-culture, helping to show how the two interacted with each other. It’s a fun and interesting read and I highly recommend it.

Until next time,

Hagalaz

Concert: Marduk/1349/Withered (6/9, St. Paul, MN, Station 4) [Also, Cupcakes]

Posted in battle jacket, concerts, funeral mist, marduk, sweden, true norwegian black metal with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 13, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

**Thought I’d mention edits- I’m tweaking my post on the new Marduk album a little, and I’m also adding a note on the distros page concerning the back patches (see below). I will more than likely have another post up this week, but maybe not on Thursday.**

So, this post is late, and I know it is, and that’s because we drove into town at 6:30 AM Sunday and I spent most of the day in a cloud of sleep deprivation. I wrote part of this Monday when I was a little more awake and then traveled 10.5 hours home Tuesday. So now that that is all over, I can chronicle the greatest concert experience of my life.

First off, Friday night my friend and I had a watch party for the new Watain DVD, Opus Diaboli. It’s amazing, and you should try to get a copy if you can (it’s been hard to get a hold of. We had to resort to YouTube, although we’ve got copies coming. They are, however, imports- the box set seems to be the only version released in the U.S. right now and although I’m enough of a Watain fangirl to own one, I am also a poor student and am therefore forced to not be quite so fiscally irresponsible). In honor of the old school scene we had cheap screwdrivers because we’re adults and don’t have to wait for our orange juice to ferment, and I baked black metal/Watain cupcakes.

Watain cupcakes. My black letter is a little wonky, but it’s legible I think if you know what you’re looking at.

Black metal cupcakes- had to throw in a Lucifer sigil or two and Abbath

My only stipulation was that I got to eat my Dead cupcake.

I suppose it’s about time my face got on here somewhere.

It was only a few people, but it was fun, and the cupcakes were a smash. They were (of course) devils food, some with chocolate icing and some with cream cheese icing.

But then- then Saturday we headed up to St. Paul to see Marduk! A couple of local bands from the Twin Cities opened, and they were both really good. I believe it was Drona’s first show, so I can’t find any video of them, but they were excellent.

Good old fashioned black metal. The second band, Burning Bethlehem, was also really good (although my friend and at least one other guy heard “Burning Meth Lab”- they should invest in a banner with their name on it so no one is confused because man, that’s a big difference). I was particularly impressed by their vocalist, who has got a good scream on him. I talked to their drummer a bit and he said it was only their second show, but they played very well together. I’m looking forward to getting to see more of both these bands.

[Rawr! They have a YouTube channel. Check it out!]

I then went back to the merch stand to go ahead and get my stuff, and I’m glad I did, because the Marduk shirts in the small sizes were quickly dwindling. I picked up this one in a medium.

      

The 1349 shirts were still available in smaller sizes and I got a small of this one. I decided to get the one with the dates on since I didn’t get the Marduk one with dates.

     

The guy running the merch booth was really nice and took good care of me. He made sure I got all my stuff signed- although more on that later. I also picked up a Morbid patch for the battle jacket, and I learned that my Funeral Mist back patch is a bootleg! I’m a little mortified, and now I’m trying to figure out how to make this right. My thought right now is to track down a couple of shirts so I can perform surgery on one and make my own back patch (the other I would of course wear everywhere). I wanted Funeral Mist to get the premier spot on my jacket, but I also want Arioch to get paid for it. He’s brilliant and very dedicated to what he does, so I figure the least I can do to show my appreciation is make sure he gets his dues.

Moar Morbid.

Because I was hanging out with my new friend I missed the first part of Weapon’s set, but I got to see about the last half. They were really good- I’m going to be keeping an eye out for them in the future. I was a little distracted because I was torn between being bummed that my patch is a bootleg and being glad I didn’t wear my jacket after all (it was in the 90s and I don’t believe they had the air on. Thanks, Minnesota, but if I’d wanted hot weather I’d have stayed in the South), so I didn’t pay as much attention as I should have.

[Weapon- a band that deserves a much more attentive audience than me]

Next up was Withered, who opened for Marduk the first time I saw them in Des Moines a couple of years ago. They destroyed. Dude. Withered was great last time, but they have gotten even better live since then. My friend picked up one of their albums, too, and they are just as excellent on a recording. They play kind of sludgy black/death metal, and it is heavy stuff. If you catch this tour (and you should totally catch this tour), make sure you’re around when Withered plays. I’m going to have to watch them a little more closely from here out.

[Us Southerners do black metal very well, if I do say so myself.]

I was really excited to see 1349’s set- they’re a band I’ve always wanted to see live. Their set was fantastic. Their bassist wore these heavy robes the entire time, which is amazing because it was horribly hot. I was drenched in sweat, so I can only imagine what it would be like to be wearing robes through a whole set under stage lighting. Ravn had some crazy gauntlets on; they looked like they had railroad spikes sticking out of them. They were sharp too- after they played he climbed down into the area between the rail and the stage to high five people in the crowd and I caught my hand on one. Ouch.

[This is not from the other night. But Ravn was wearing the same Hellhammer t-shirt]

As that was happening, however, I felt a slight tap on my upper arm. I thought “no way,” and sure enough, Archaon had thrown a pick into the crowd and it had stuck on my arm! (Seriously. Really sweaty). I’ve never caught a pick before, and I’ve been doing this for a while, so it’s about time!

Archaon’s pick

Then it was time for the mighty Marduk! I had come to get my face melted and they delivered (also, it was so hot in there my makeup literally melted). They played a variety of songs from through their entire career, so there was something for everyone. The only song they played from the new album was the title track, but it was cool to hear the major chords live. They also let Devo have the spotlight for a couple of minutes which was nice- that guy is a fantastic bassist, and one of the things I’ve always appreciated about Marduk is that they utilize the bass really well instead of mixing it out completely like so many black metal bands. I managed to catch his eye at one point, too, and he threw me the horns.

[This isn’t from the other night either. But they did play Womb of Perishableness even if there was no fire, alas. Also this is a really cool video]

The sound was really good as well, which is nice. Last time at the Mews I felt like the settings were way too trebly, and this time I could hear Morgan a lot better as well as the bass. And Mortuus- ye gods, I will never tire of that guy’s voice. He is absolutely amazing, and watching him live is always a treat.

So after Marduk’s set, my friend Jamie and I decided to go camp by the bus and see if we could get my stuff signed. They took off to get food, so we were sitting outside for a bit, but it worked out for the best- Archaon from 1349 came out of the bus and we talked to him for probably 20 minutes about touring in Texas and Minnesota breweries. I had brought along my Slayer ‘zine (a guy from their crew had glanced through it earlier. It’s a fun way to meet people, and I think I should maybe consider wagging it with me everywhere) and he flipped through it and was commenting on several of the articles and pictures, which was really cool. When you’re in the Midwest U.S. it’s easy to forget how small the scene actually is, and hearing him talk about things like actually going to the “rebirth of Dissection” show was a really cool and unique experience.

Shortly after he got back on the bus the guys from Marduk came back from dinner and I got to meet them all (rather quickly- they had to run). I did get to tell Morgan that Marduk was my first black metal concert two years ago, however, which was fun for me, and I got to talk to Devo for a moment or two. They all signed my CD case/book, and Mortuus signed my Funeral Mist interview from my Slayer ‘zine (as Arioch).

Mortuus and Lars

Morgan

Devo

Arioch

They were all really nice and polite despite being exhausted, I’m sure. It was a fantastic end to an amazing show. I wish I had longer to talk to them because I have SO MANY things I’d like to ask them, but that will have to wait until next time (because it’s not like I will ever pass up an opportunity to see Marduk. They have a very special place in my heart, as I’m sure anyone who has ever looked at this blog can tell). I scored the crown jewels of my autograph collection, and I FINALLY caught something from one of the bands! It was pretty much the best experience I’ve had at a concert.

Now to just figure out my jacket…

Until next time,

Hagalaz

**EDIT**

A video appeared of Drona! Here they are- check them out! (I’m totally in this video too!)

-Hagalaz

Review: Marduk-Serpent Sermon

Posted in Reviews, sweden with tags , , , , on June 7, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

Tuesday, Marduk’s new album Serpent Sermon dropped in the US. I’ve had it a while longer than that- CM Distro shipped it to me about a week and a half early, so I’ve been getting to bask in its awesomeness for a while now. Marduk has become one of my favorite black metal bands since I saw them live in November 2010 (I liked them before, but there’s nothing like a live show to get you really stoked about a band), and I have been looking forward to this album. The two songs that they released early, “M.A.M.M.O.N.” and “Souls for Belial” are both really good, so I expected great things from this album. I did not expect it to be as great as it is. Holy crap. I’d say it’s better than Wormwood, and that one was fantastic.

You can listen to the whole thing here if you’d like: http://www.cvltnation.com/exclusive-cvlt-nation-streaming-marduk-serpent-sermon-in-full/

Of course, I had to get the special limited edition fangirl copy with the media book and bonus track. The media book is really just an extended version of what the regular liner notes looks like, I assume- it’s not all that awesome, in other words. (EDIT: My friend picked up the regular version, and the one I have is much nicer. It’s got single photos of the band members [great for autographs] and the pages are much sturdier.) The bonus track however, “Coram Satanae,” I wholeheartedly think is worth the extra couple of bucks. It’s a great track. Oddly, the weird riffage in the middle (about 3:43) reminds me of Agalloch in a way. Well, much heavier and more distorted, but it has that stately feel. It’s got chimes and an excellent bassline. The melody is absolutely haunting and will be with you for days. It’s a bonus indeed. Get it if you can.

Serpent Sermon has, I think, something for everyone. They’ve got a couple of songs on there that are obvious shoutouts to the old school fans (“Souls for Belial” is one of them. Makes sense why they did the video for that one). “Damnation’s Gold” and “Hail Mary (Piss-soaked Genuflexion) are also very traditional Marduk sounding songs- blistering and straight up, good old fashioned black metal with some really cool shredding and interesting new guitar sounds.

Marduk has, however, done a lot of experimentation on this album. It’s always slightly nerve wracking when bands do that because you never know how it will turn out, but in this case it works exceedingly well. Morgan’s signature riffs are still there, but he’s getting more creative with them and altering them in ways that add a great new flavor to the mix while still maintaining his own sound. The chorus of the title track is actually built around a major chord! It’s crazy! I never in a million years would have expected that, and it’s a great way to start the album. “Messianic Pestilence” and “M.A.M.M.O.N.” both contain some really atonal parts, like riffs played in a different key than the parts underneath them. It’s very clashy and clangy and I have seen it described as like Deathspell Omega, but I wouldn’t say it sounds like DSO necessarily. (EDIT: Spent some more time listening to DSO this weekend, and though I still think they’ve probably been listening to them, Marduk is not nearly as deconstructed sounding.)  This is still very clearly Marduk, but Marduk trying something different. It’s dissonant, but it feels more structured.

I can also hear some Funeral Mist in here just as you can hear some Marduk in Maranatha, but just like in that instance the other sound doesn’t overshadow so much as it adds dimension. “Gospel of the Worm” sounds like the bastard child of Funeral Mist and Marduk- the chorus has the clear, strident sounds of Marduk’s riffs but the verses are the frenzied cacophony that Mortuus/Arioch is so good at. Mortuus’ vocals are also particularly nice on this album- he’s weaving them in and out of the instrumentation. His choice of where to place certain words and repeat certain phrases is very well executed as in all of his work, but it’s played up a little more on Serpent Sermon. This album has also made me very aware of just how good Marduk’s drummer is- although he’s been around since Rom. 5:12 I never really noticed before. The above song showcases Lars’ abilities, as does “Into Second Death,” which has a slow yet powerful chorus not unlike some of the songs on Wormwood.

Chanting seems to be a big thing to do this year (even Napalm Death did some on their new one, which I reviewed earlier this year: https://blackmetallurgy.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/review-napalm-death-utilitarian/), and there is some chanting on “Temple of Decay” as well as some cool maneuverings on the bassline. I don’t notice the bass at the forefront as much on this album as I did on Wormwood, but Devo’s presence is still very strong and the more deliberately audible bass lines are fantastic. The last song on the regular album (sans bonus track) is “World of Blades,” and it too is very melodic, providing a great way to end the album in reference to “Serpent Sermon” opening it. The bass gets some time to shine on this track too, which is really nice.

Once again Mortuus/Holy Poison design did the layout for the album, and I really like it. It’s all black and white, with less Photoshop and reminds me of Renaissance emblem books. Although I enjoy Mortuus’ terrifying Photoshop dalliances (my dreams like them less), it is cool to see him doing something so completely different. All the lyrics are in black letter too, which of course also makes the Renaissance scholar in me happy. The copy I ordered with the mediabook is very sturdy and is in a book format, which is much nicer I think than the jewel case (and is only ever so slightly more expensive. Plus bonus track!).

    


Here is what I’m talking about when I say emblem book. From Wikipedia.

All in all, I’d say that Marduk has my vote for the best album of the year (that I’ve heard) so far. Serpent Sermon is great from start to finish, and all of their experimentation really paid off; although you can hear the influence of other bands on the structures of the chords, Marduk has taken those elements and made them their own. The album does a great job of showcasing the talents of all the members, and I like the inclusion of some more melodic passages and that major chord in the title track! It gives the album a grim sense of elation and joy almost, while it never ceases to be very dark (no “Vanity of Vanities” on this one). From what I’ve seen, it seems that many people are liking the new album as much as I do, which makes me happy because Marduk deserves more attention and respect than they get. I hope this lineup sticks together for a long time, because they get increasingly more brutal with every album (though I concede that Rom 5:12 and Wormwood are two dramatically different styles of brutal) and have not stagnated yet. If you haven’t gotten yourself a copy yet, Century Media’s distro is distributing it in the US (and also in Europe). It doesn’t look like it’s on MardukLegion.com yet, but you can pick it up elsewhere. It’s also worth noting that I had no issues at all with CM Distro on this order, since I have heard some people complain about them before.

Hagalaz’ favorite tracks:

Serpent Sermon

Messianic Pestilence

Into Second Death

World of Blades

(it is worth noting, however, that these were the ones I picked just now. My favorite tracks are constantly cycling on this one- there is not a bad track on this album).

And now to go witness this live… (oh if they play “Messianic Pestilence” I shall be a very happy girl indeed)…

**Edited on June 13, 2012.

Happy Swedish Black Metal Tuesday!

Posted in release info, sweden with tags , , , , , , on June 5, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

It’s Swedish Black Metal day in the US! New Marduk today! If you haven’t heard Serpent Sermon yet, you’re doing your ears a disservice. It is fantastic. You can buy it here: http://www.cmdistro.com/

The new Watain DVD, Opus Diaboli, also drops in the US today. It can be ordered from the Ajna Offensive, here: http://www.theajnaoffensive.com/ . Of course, you can always order from Wolf Wear, too, but they are WAY backed up right now, just to warn you. I, however, will be traveling to Des Moines later today to *hopefully* secure my own copy.

I’ll be back Thursday, and I’ll go in depth on how awesome the new Marduk is. See you then.

-Hagalaz