Archive for November, 2013

Review: Watain- The Wild Hunt

Posted in black metal, Reviews, sweden with tags , , , , on November 22, 2013 by blackmetallurgy

**EDITED** 10/26/14: Edited to add corrections concerning Erik’s vocals on They Rode On and the bonus track. Much thanks to Jamie Pell for the helpful comments!**

Earlier this year, I expressed my trepidation concerning the new Watain album. Like all trve black metal fans, I feared that the band had changed, that perhaps being on a label like Century Media had forced them to stifle their creativity and cater instead to the masses, that perhaps there just honestly wasn’t a way to top The Waters of Ain, and that perhaps they had shed some of the Satanic aspect of their mythos.

And Watain has changed, but not in the way I expected.

The Wild Hunt is an odd but brilliant album. All That May Bleed, the single that had me so worried, is quite the earworm once you’ve listened to it a few more times, and I have come to appreciate the ritual sacrifice aspect of the lyrics. I will admit, I had to listen to it quite a bit before I was okay with the more unconventional aspects of the album, but it has really grown on me.

The Wild Hunt starts off with a lovely intro in the form of Night Visions, which sounds as though it could be a companion piece to The Waters of Ain, and creates a nice flow between the albums. Following this intro track are two most traditional Watain songs on the album, De Profundis and Black Flames March. Although it’s sort of a cop-out answer, the former is probably my favorite track; the frantic guitar riffing paired up with the mid-tempo, tympani roll-enhanced chorus really does it for me. Black Flames March is probably the most conventional track on the album, as it is reminiscent of other songs that are fun to chant along to, like Reaping Death.

That’s pretty much as far as the similarities to older Watain material go, however. The Wild Hunt abounds with the treading of new ground. For instance, The Child Must Die incorporates a somewhat punky feel in the rhythms (and since Opus Diaboli has been in the world, we know that Watain digs punk) and some awesome melodic guitar riffing. Outlaw, one of the stranger songs on the album, features dissonant guitars and chanting. And the ballad that was the talk of the autumn, They Rode On, has a very traditional 80s metal feel to it while managing to not be too cheesy and retaining its darkness.

Since The Waters of Ain happens to be in my short list of favorite songs ever, I knew that it would be difficult to impress me on this release, which is probably why the title track didn’t do a whole lot for me at first. That is, until I saw it live (and yes, I saw Watain live recently. I’m not going to review it because I missed most of the show- I saw two In Solitude songs and Watain’s set, which I won’t lie, I teared up a little at the end of. It was glorious; P spit in my hair but then also gave me his pick, and it was a good night). Live, The Wild Hunt makes a lot more sense, or at least that’s what made it click for me. It is like The Waters of Ain in that the lyrics deal with looking beyond this world and to the next one, and it’s every bit as moving in a new way. Also, seeing Watain live confirmed for me that E does in fact sing the clean vocals on this track, which is kind of awesome (I am informed that he also does them on They Rode On. I guess hearing his voice in that low of a register throws me).

Like most Swedish melodic black metal releases, The Wild Hunt has clean production, and that is totally fine as it highlights the intricacies within the album, like those awesome timpani rolls in De Profundis. Another thing I thought was cool was the way that the into, Night Visions, seems to form a lovely segue from The Waters of Ain (which is the last track on the previous album, for all of you non-Watain die-hards). When the drums come in, the song sounds like some of the more courtly sounding parts of the latter, and the eerie opening is reminiscent of such tracks as Withershins from Sworn To The Dark. It’s as though Watain is commenting on their past while very obviously looking forward.

I bought the fangirl edition of the album, ]at least of the CD version. Time will tell if I shell out for the vinyl fangirl edition that comes with an altar cloth. The version I got came with a bonus track, which is awesome, even if I’m not sure what it is. A friend told me he thought it was a re-recording of an old, unreleased track, and if anyone can verify that or tell me what it is, I’d appreciate it. (I am also informed that the track is “When Stars No More Shine,” a re-recording of the first track on the ’98 EP Go Fuck Your Jewish “God”). The packaging for the album is also really cool, with a nice case and liner notes that have book-binding on them. Also, the paper the liner notes are printed on is really nice and heavy. The only complaint I have is the slot for the CD- it makes me really nervous that I have to slide the CD into it as opposed to popping it onto a thing on a jewel case (I believe “thing” is the technical term), as that seems like a good way to scratch it. I really love the cover art, both on the album and on the special case. The latter seems like a brilliant tattoo idea, too.

The cover of the special edition case

The cover of the special edition case

This packaging is really cool/nice

This packaging is really cool/nice

You slide the CD in on the right... makes me nervous

You slide the CD in on the right… makes me nervous

Nice heavy paper, cool graphic design

Nice heavy paper, cool graphic design

Rawr!

Rawr!

Overall, I’m really impressed with The Wild Hunt. It’s not what I expected, and the more I listen to it, the more I’m happy for that. With the couple of songs that sound like old-school Watain thrown in with the much more prominent experimental parts, I really do feel as though the band is acknowledging what came behind while venturing into new realms of shadow.

4 out of 5 Baphomet sigils

Hagalaz’ Favorite Tracks

De Profundis
The Child Must Die
The Wild Hunt

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Hey Guys!

Posted in black metal, blogs, concerts, folk metal, minneapolis/st. paul, united states with tags , , , , , , on November 21, 2013 by blackmetallurgy

Hey! I’m working on things! My review of Watain’s The Wild Hunt should be up tomorrow! And I saw Finntroll and Morbid Angel this week, so I’m hopefully going to talk about those! And maybe manage to somehow get all the reviews I want to write written!

…Anyway. In the meantime, you should check out my friend A’s new blog, Folkin’ Kvlt! She is just getting started, but she is brilliant and lovely, and I’m really looking forward to reading her stuff. Check it out here.

-H.

Review: Vollmond- Rituals of Conquest

Posted in black metal, blackened doom, concerts, doom, italy, underground with tags , , , , , , on November 10, 2013 by blackmetallurgy

Although I’m fairly new to the concept, space and black metal go brilliantly together. Someone posted this link on reddit the other day, which kind of made my day, and then I got my hands on the new Vollmond release, and it’s as spectacular as the cosmos in black metal form gets.

Vollmond, which is German for “full moon,” is an Italian band whose doomy black metal music centers largely on occultism and the cosmos. And that is the feel that I get from their newest album, Rituals of Conquest. This beautiful sophomore release truly is perfect stargazing music.

The album begins with Dawn of the Limitless Fire, a melodic and soaring piece that reminds me a lot of Blut Aus Nord’s Memoria Vetusta: A Dialogue With The Stars only with good drums (it’s a lovely album. One of my favorites. And the electronic drums on it are abysmal). After this track, the album takes a noticeably dark turn with Mournful Ascension. This track is a 10:44 long epic with an amazing guitar solo beginning at 4:41. Although it’s the longest track on the album it never gets stale, shifting through its various components in a fluid manner.

[Perfect for summer nights under the stars]

The album also features a couple of instrumentals, which is awesome, especially considering Vollmond’s obvious knack for soundscapes. Perhaps the oddest track on the album is the title track, which utilizes spoken vocals for most of the song. This track also feels to me like it has a DSBM feel to it, and the mixture of slow/fast with clean/death vocals really makes for a good balance.

[LOVE this one]

Rituals of Conquest, like a lot of third-wave black metal albums, utilizes lots of broken chords to get a starry, twinkling feel. Bell-toned guitars also lend the music a chime-like affect. However, Vollmond also throws in some traditional black metal elements as well, like tremolo picking and the occasional dissonant tri-tone. The affect is an innovative mix of old and new that still manages to sound pretty while remaining very dark and powerful.

The album artwork for Rituals of Conquest it fitting for the music itself; stars and constellations adorn the CD and liner notes.

Front cover.

Front cover.

Stars! Pretty sure I've seen some of these guys at night in Oklahoma.

Stars! Pretty sure I’ve seen some of these guys at night in Oklahoma.

The CD itself also showcases several constellations.

 Rituals of Conquest is a great little album, eerie and at times downright lovely. Try to find a copy of it if you can; you won’t regret it.

5/5

Hagalaz’ Favorite Tracks
Dawn of the Limitless Fire
Engravings
Death Manifestation

**Very special thanks to Ars Magna Recordings for your support and for giving me the opportunity to review some things for you.

Ihsahn Review at Burning Fist!

Posted in black metal, burning fist, musings, norway, prog metal, Reviews, true norwegian black metal with tags , , , , , , , , on November 6, 2013 by blackmetallurgy

As of right now, I am finishing up my review of the new Vollmond album, and in the works is reviews of Watain, Woe, Inquisition, Arckanum, Klor, and Deafheaven. I am also going to be submitting some reviews for Burning Fist blog/podcast too, and my review of the new Ihsahn album, Das Seelenbrechen, was just posted there today! Check it out if you get a chance, and, as always, feel free to leave feedback!

-H

Concert: Saint Vitus/Pallbearer/The Hookers (10/7, 7th Street Entry, Minneapolis, MN)

Posted in 7th street entry, concerts, doom, doom metal, hardcore, united states with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2013 by blackmetallurgy

Shirking my responsibilities in the way of homework and being a loyal devotee of Into the Void Records’ metal DJ night, I headed down to downtown Minneapolis to see the mighty Saint Vitus destroy the 7th Street Entry. It was a long show, an exhausting show, but it was also awesome and totally worth the next-day exhaustion.

This was my first time at 7th Street Entry, which is a tiny place that’s part of the famous 1st Ave. It was a small space, but very easy to move around in- there were exits from the standing room on both sides, so it was easy to get back up to the bar or outside if you needed to. Likewise, the stage was small but intimate.

The Hookers, from Louisville, KY, were the first band of the night. They are a hardcore band, and have a very Southern feel to their music. I enjoyed their set; it was exciting and full of energy. Although I am not very familiar with The Hookers, they have been around since the mid-90s and have put out a lot of records (a lot of 7”s too). Watching them was a treat, and I’m going to have to pay more attention to The Hookers from now on.

[Southern punk]

Next up was the mighty Pallbearer! I absolutely love these guys, and I bought their LP a couple of days before the show (it’s a double LP and each side has like, one song. Gotta love Southern doom). I saw Pallbearer open for Enslaved back in January, but the sound was really shitty and you couldn’t hear the vocals at all. This time, however, the problem was fixed- vocals were on and really good. They played a mix of material (including The Foreigner, which I get stuck in my head something awful), one of which was a new track that didn’t even yet have vocals. A great set from a great band.

[Probably my favorite Pallbearer song. Gah. So beautiful. Even my mom likes it.]

Finally, Saint Vitus took the stage, about approximately the same time that a huge dude who was like 6’6” shoved past me to the front (Seriously?). I don’t have a whole lot of familiarity with Saint Vitus, I’m afraid. Doom is something that I’ve just started really getting into in the past year or so, and the American doom that I usually end up listening to is the Southern doom like Pallbearer and Cough.

[Doom.]

Saint Vitus was absolutely amazing, though. My friend S told me that I would be fascinated with Wino, and that he was the coolest person to ever grace a stage, and he’s about right. Saint Vitus is getting up there in years, and yet they dominated completely. It was a flawless set, and the crowd was eating it up. Wino shook my hand at one point towards the end of the set and almost broke it; that man has a very strong grip. It was thoroughly enjoyable, and I even went home with a drumstick. The best part for me was probably seeing the tiny girl who couldn’t have been older than 16 there, staring in wide-eyed fascination at the band.

[They are getting way up there, but they still have it.]

Lately, I have been on a merch mission for shirts that aren’t black, as I have a whole closet full of black. I figured at a doom show there might be some alternative colors, and I wasn’t disappointed. I ended up with this Pallbearer shirt, because I figured Saint Vitus is probably doing okay on money and I want to support my neighbors over in Arkansas.

Front

Front

20131101_220831

Back. (It IS red, not pink. Bad lighting.)

20131101_220858

My first drumstick.

All and all, this was a great show. Although The Hookers felt like the odd man out on the bill, they still played a very strong set and the crowd clearly enjoyed it. Pallbearer was fantastic again, but better with the good sound, and Saint Vitus was absolutely incredible. I count myself lucky that I got to see such legends perform in such an intimate setting. I highly encourage seeing any and all of these bands if you ever have the chance.