Archive for January, 2014

Review: Klor- Klor

Posted in ars magna recordings, atmospheric black metal, black metal, denmark, Reviews with tags , , , , , on January 30, 2014 by blackmetallurgy

**Edited 1/30/14, because the Danes are from Denmark, not the Dutch. My bad. In my defense, I’ve had a toothache and have been on a LOT of painkillers this week.**

Klor’s self-titled debut packs a huge punch in an unassuming package. This Danish band reminds me in many ways of bands like Taake and Mgla- bands that take traditional black metal sounds and combine them in new and original ways, resulting in a fresh and alluring sound.

Although Klor utilizes a lot of distortion on this album, the chord progressions are often melodic, shifting to unexpected resolutions. The opening track, “Ancient Timer,” provides an excellent example of this technique. The result is something that sounds forest-like to me; although it’s a dark sound, it also reverberates with a feel of wonder.

Klor would probably be happy to know my opinion of that sound, considering that the album as a whole draws on a lot of woodland imagery. Songs like “Criminal Youth of the Woods,” “Helmet Overgrown With Weeds,” and the beautifully named “Ghostlip,” all evoke images of a natural setting.

Even some of the heavier pieces on the album, like “Criminal Youth of the Woods,” have some lovely parts (around 2:16 in particular). “Sunroom” uses harmonies that I normally associate with post-black metal or blackgaze, but the tempo is much faster than that particular subgenre normally is. The guitar harmonies are incredible on this track, and the eerie keyboard opening is a welcome shift in pace before the track blasts off, ending abruptly.

As mesmerizing as the pretty parts of the album are the churning, dissonant passages. “Helmet Overgrown With Weeds” makes use of this technique, wedged in between a post-black metal feeling opening and woodsy bell-tones at the end.

As I mentioned above, the wilderness feel of Klor extends beyond just the feel of the music and the song titles. The album artwork is also inundated with forest imagery, which is what drew me immediately to the album. The back cover lists the names of the songs with plants, feathers, and other nature imagery corresponding with the titles. However, the simple black and white background does little to prepare you for the inside artwork. Seafoam green and bright orange, the inside of the case is highly unexpected, as with so much of this album.

20131106_091231

I’m told this says “Klor.”

This color scheme was rather unexpected.

This color scheme was rather unexpected. I really like the contrast with the black and white disc, though.

This makes my little foresty heart happy.

This makes my little foresty heart happy.

The production on Klor’s debut is very good; the instruments and vocals are accommodated nicely in the mix. I only could make out the words clearly at a couple of points, which means that the vocals were blending into the mix in the way that I really love when it comes to black metal. Especially since Klor is such an atmospheric album, I feel like the blending of vocals with instruments and the meticulous highlighting of the more unconventional and post-black metal parts serve the band well.

Quite frankly, I love this debut album from this little Danish band I had never heard of until recently. It’s astoundingly original and fresh- although the album draws on post-black metal/blackgaze, which is really popular right now, Klor approaches these subgenres in a new way. It’s always exciting to hear new things in black metal, especially with how popular the genre has become. Please give Klor a listen; trust me, you won’t regret it.

Hagalaz’ Favorite Tracks:

Ancient Timer

Sunroom

Ghostlip

ALSO, A special thanks to Ars Magna Recordings for sending me this album and allowing me to review it! I really appreciate your support!

-Hagalaz

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More Reviews at Burning Fist: Gehenna and Hecate Enthroned

Posted in black metal, blogs, burning fist, norway, Reviews, symphonic black metal, uk with tags , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2014 by blackmetallurgy

I wrote more reviews for Burning Fist, this time of Gehenna and Hecate Enthroned‘s new albums (2013 releases). Follow the links!

***

Also, I promise I am doing things. I’m just moving slowly. Trying to get back in the groove of school.

-H

Happy Birthday, Dead!

Posted in black metal, black metal history, dead, mayhem, true norwegian black metal, videos with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 16, 2014 by blackmetallurgy

Happy (would be, and slightly belated by about an hour and a half) 45th to Pelle Ohlin, one of black metal’s godfathers. In honor of this day, I’m linking to the following video, which you will probably recognize as the famous Mayhem rehearsal footage video, in glorious HD! This magically appeared on the internet, as far as I know, in the last couple of days. It is lovely.

LOOK AT THAT SMILE. LOOK AT IT. His smile makes me smile.

Happy Birthday, Dead. You had a lovely smile. May you rest in peace always.

-Hagalaz

Review: Inquisition- Obscure Verses for the Multiverse

Posted in black metal, colombia, Reviews, underground, united states, USBM with tags , , , , , on January 10, 2014 by blackmetallurgy

Hello again, ladies and gentlemen. Now that I have survived the semester from hell round three (there’s been one in every program I’ve been in), I have time to think again and can start on some of the tons of reviews that have piled up on me. I’m going to start this round off with Inquisition, because their new one is a great album and it’s been earworming me lately.

When I first heard the teaser trailer clips for Inquisition’s new album, Obscure Verses for the Multiverse, I was positively giddy with excitement. I had heard a song off of the new Satyricon album earlier that day and wasn’t that impressed (you can tell by my year end list, I presume, that I have since rescinded that opinion), and I was overjoyed to hear the otherworldly, largely mid-tempo chants that are so familiar, and often so soothing, to me. “At least some things never change,” I thought.

[This one.]

I thought wrong, I discovered when I actually got a copy of the thing in my hot little hands. There’s plenty of experimentation and lots of surprises on Verses, although Inquisition’s instantly identifiable sound is still there. Songs like “Darkness Flows Towards Unseen Horizons” contain instantly recognizable drum patterns and guitar sounds.  “Arrival of Aeons After” is another track that utilizes traditional Inquisition guitar riffs, and the guitars in the verses oddly remind me a lot of latter-era Immortal (which is, I think, probably the closest you can ever come to comparing the two bands, Season of Mist. Seriously. I need to have words with whoever is coming up with those “For fans of:” labels. They don’t know what they’re on about /end rant).

Although parts of the album are pretty standard, Inquisition is doing some really cool things on Verses, particularly with sound editing and guitar distortion. “Spiritual Plasma Evocation” starts off a mid-tempo dirge with some really cool and innovative riffs that couple nicely with the drums, and then shifts into the song proper, which is faster and fueled with blast beats. Likewise, “Infinite Interstellar Genocide” incorporates one of the weirdest guitar riffs/distortions I have heard on a black metal album, let alone an Inquisition record. This song is also incredibly fast for the Colombian/American band, who seem most comfortable with slower paces. “Inversion of Ethereal White Stars” is another big hit for me, as I adore onomatopoeiaic music. The riffing and the high pitches in the guitars makes this song sound exactly like stars twinkling (like this one, in particular).

The production on Verses is pretty standard for Inquisition. I have a good friend who wanted to hear a little better production this time around, since Inquisition is now signed to a bigger label. I am okay with it though; although it would be cool to hear what Inquisition can do with a better sound quality, I like their rawer production as it feels very true to my idea of the band. The production is good enough to highlight the guitar distortion while blending with the drum sound and without becoming overbearing, and that’s what’s really important.

Perhaps the biggest bummer for me in terms of this album was that Antichrist Kramer didn’t do the artwork. I only know hearsay, so I can’t confirm anything, but I heard that the label heard that Kramer had some somewhat unpopular political leanings and axed him from doing the cover art. And that the band later backed them up. Whatever it was, the cover art, to me, is a little bit silly looking, and not nearly as awesome as Kramer’s artwork has been on past Inquisition albums.

Like this one. This is awesome. Someday I think I'll get it tattooed down my side (CultMetal.com)

Like this one. This is awesome. Someday I think I’ll get it tattooed down my side (CultMetal.com)

I purchased the fangirl edition, which helps. This edition was quite pricey; however, it comes with a real, goat-leather keychain and the packaging is really nice.

Fancy pants.

Fancy pants. The box is textured.

The back is really cool. I like how the song titles fit in with the pentagram.

The back is really cool. I like how the song titles fit in with the pentagram.

And this. This is cool.

And this. This is cool.

Everything that came in the box set. Including that silly album artwork on the liner notes.

Everything that came in the box set. Including that silly album artwork on the liner notes.

Inquisition's use of constellations and stars is really cool. They're even in the liner notes!

Inquisition’s use of constellations and stars is really cool. They’re even in the liner notes!

Skulls n' stuff.

Skulls n’ stuff.

Devil Nebula

Devil Nebula

Inside artwork.

Inside artwork.

The patch that came with the box set.

The patch that came with the box set.

Goat leather keychain. Maaaaaaa.

Goat leather keychain. Maaaaaaa.

Overall… Well, I nominated Obscure Verses to the Multiverse as my second favorite black metal album this year. Because it’s good. It’s really, really good. Easily a 5/5 Baphomets for me.

Hagalaz’ Favorite Tracks:

Spiritual Plasma Evocation
Inversion of Ethereal White Stars
Infinite Interstellar Genocide
ALL OF IT.

-Hagalaz

Hagalaz’ Top 10 Not-Just-Black-Metal Albums of 2013

Posted in best of, black metal, burning fist, death metal, doom, doom metal, folk metal, grindcore, retro occult rock, sludge metal, traditional heavy metal with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2014 by blackmetallurgy

… Is posted over at Burning Fist. Go read it! And then listen to In Solitude and Satan’s Host! And listen to the new Carcass again (as though you needed any persuading to do that).

-Hagalaz

2013 in review

Posted in 2013 with tags , , on January 3, 2014 by blackmetallurgy

The Blackmetallurgy 2013 review, for your viewing pleasure (if you are interested).

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Hagalaz’ Favorite Black Metal Releases of 2013

Posted in black metal, blackgaze, canada, colombia, DSBM, france, musings, norway, sweden, underground, united states, USBM with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 1, 2014 by blackmetallurgy

In 2012, I felt like the overwhelming theme among the best black metal releases were the ones that took big risks- bands like Marduk and Deathspell Omega doing really interesting experimental stuff. This year, for me at least, the heavy hitters were bands that have traditionally been heavy hitters; the only difference is, in many cases, these are comeback albums. Satyricon, Arckanum, and Rotting Christ all put out albums that are, in my opinion, superior the their other recent releases. I decided to keep it to  ten this year- Horna and Woe were among those I cut, and I haven’t gotten to spend enough time with the new Sadgiqacea album, otherwise I’d probably have to revise again.

So without further ado:

Gehenna- Unravel

Gehenna’s mid-tempo dissonance has really peaked in this new album. Unravel is a dirge-like, doomy album, perfect for a funeral or a rainy day. I really like the influences I hear in this one- namely, French black metal and funeral doom- and the way that Gehenna has made them their own.

Satyricon- Satyricon

I didn’t expect much from the new Satyricon. The Age of Nero was okay, and I am one of the few people, I think, who genuinely appreciates Now, Diabolical. Still, Satyricon’s sound has been too polished for me lately, and even though the production is still a little *too* good on this new one, they’ve got their bite back for sure. There are some lovely black metal riffs in there, the ballad is not bad (seriously. What is it with ballads? So far those that have done it have done it well, but I hope this doesn’t become too much of a thing), and holy crap Frost’s drumming. That’s all I have to say about that.

Watain- The Wild Hunt

I was seriously doubting whether Watain would ever be able to surpass The Waters of Ain, and for me, I still don’t think they have. Nevertheless, the Swedes have proven their mettle with The Wild Hunt, experimenting with ballads and clean vocals and sticking it to those people who think they are simply Dissection clones.

Rotting Christ- Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy (Do What Thou Wilt) [No, I would not like to take a stab at it in Greek]

The new Rotting Christ was one of the first albums that I listened to this year, and I really wasn’t crazy about it. But then, a couple of months ago, I threw it on so I could have something good to work out to (Rotting Christ is great, I find, for inspiring one’s sit-ups), and all of a sudden it clicked. I haven’t been able to get enough of it since.

Deafheaven- Sunbather

Yup. I’m putting Deafheaven on my list. Sorry I’m not sorry, Trve Kvltists. Sunbather is a phenomenal album; I mean, Irresistible reminds me of Placebo, even (yes, the pop band. The awesome pop band).  The commentary that this album makes on American materialism is just proof that USBM never ceases to find interesting new ways to address darkness.

Summoning- Old Morning’s Dawn

Old Morning’s Dawn pretty much knocked my socks clean off when I heard it. This album is one of those that you should keep on reserve to put on when your unbeliever friends tell you black metal is just noise. Beautiful.

Arckanum- Fenris Kindir

Arckanum’s new album, Fenris Kindir, serves as a reminder of all the reasons why Arckanum is fantastic. Tungls Tjúgari is a churning, atmospheric nightmare, and Hamrami’s gorgeous soundscape evokes the mountains and forests in the way that only Shamaatae can pull off. (Listening to it right now reminds me that I need to spend more time in the woods. Wish it wasn’t so freaking cold out.)

Gris- À L’Âme Enflammée, L’Äme Constellée

Quebeçois DSBM masters Gris have graced us with a brilliant and lovely new album in the form of a 2 disc set (!!!!). In case you didn’t hear that right, that’s two whole discs of atmospheric, depressive loveliness. My brain doesn’t really know how to comprehend how cool that is, but I’m doing my best.

Inquisition- Obscure Verses For The Multiverse

Although I am still mourning the falling out between Antichrist Kramer and Inquisition that resulted in what I find to be some pretty silly cover art, Obscure Verses is an incredible album. Good old fashioned Inquisition mixed with some really cool effects with the guitar.

And, last but not least, my favorite black metal album of 2013, the album so nice, I bought it twice….

Aosoth- IV: An Arrow In Heart

Anyone who read my review of Aosoth’s newest back in June has the slightest inkling of just how crushingly hard-hitting this album was for me. As I was reflecting on my top ten again today, I spent some time listening to it again, and it’s still just as fraught with tension and cold as the first time I heard it. Brilliant. (And yes, I really did buy it twice. CD and double LP.)

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Well, fellow kvltists, there you have it. My best of in 2013. I’m coming up with a not-just-black-metal list for Burning Fist, which is… difficult, to say the least, but I am working on it. And I’ll try to get caught up on the reviews, because I’m sure there are some people who haven’t bought the new Woe yet who wonder if it’s worth their buck (but not Inquisition. Everyone’s already got that one. Or they should. If you don’t, you should hand over your spiked gauntlets, because you’re not trve). Have a lovely new year, and I will see you soon, and often.

-Hagalaz