Archive for July, 2014

More Pics from Behexen/Sargeist

Posted in battle jacket, black metal, chicago, concerts, finland, orthodox black metal, psychedelic rock, retro occult rock, satan, underground, united states, USBM, war metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 27, 2014 by blackmetallurgy

As promised, some pics from black metal weekend. It occurs to me that I must not have gotten any pics of Behexen- was too busy headbanging I guess. Enjoy!

My farewell party. He was displeased that I was gone all weekend.

My farewell party. He was displeased that I was gone all weekend.

The lovely A at the Beat Kitchen, rocking the Emperor shirt

The lovely A at the Beat Kitchen, rocking the Emperor shirt

Kommandant's vocalist. His new get-up is terrifying

Kommandant’s vocalist. His new get-up is terrifying

Kommandant

Kommandant

Just one of the many curiosities from the awesome sushi place/Japanese grocery store

Just one of the many curiosities from the awesome sushi place/Japanese grocery store

Mugging for the camera with my bow to match my battle jacket

Mugging for the camera with my bow to match my battle jacket

Kvties

Kvties

Jex Thoth

Jex Thoth

I liked her dancing

I liked her dancing

Sargeist

Sargeist

Ave.

-H

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Concert: Sargeist/Acid Witch/Empyreus/Strix Nebulosa/Jex Thoth (7/6, Beat Kitchen, Chicago)

Posted in black metal, chicago, concerts, death metal, doom, finland, orthodox black metal, psychedelic rock, retro occult rock, satan, underground, united states, USBM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2014 by blackmetallurgy

***NOTE: Alas, there are no vids this time. For some reason, WordPress (or this post in particular, perhaps) is not letting me embed videos. So I don’t have those for you. I do have a few pictures from the shows, but they aren’t all uploaded on my computer so I will have to do a follow up post of those.***

Night two of my and A’s black metal weekend was a significantly longer bill, featuring a wide range of music. I was a bit in shock that I was going to get to see Sargeist- I figured that would never happen, even less of a chance than Behexen. Also, I was looking forward to seeing Acid Witch as A really loves them, as well as Jex Thoth, because I have fallen pretty hard for that weird 60s occult rock stuff. The crowd was also substantially bigger than the previous night; I think a lot of people were there for Acid Witch, as they don’t seem to play live often. Also, as I mentioned before, I think Sargeist live is an even rarer event than Behexen.

The show started off with Jex Thoth, who danced up on stage wearing a Red Riding Hood-like cape (I have a similar one, actually!) and carrying burning sage. As much as I love my black metal, I’d say that she was seriously in danger of stealing the show- the crowd adored her, and she would often jump down into the crowd to give people sage to hold and to whisper in certain people’s ears. For me, the performance was really cool because it was such a huge contrast to The Devil’s Blood- Jex Thoth is constantly in movement when she’s performing in direct contrast with The Mouth of Satan- even though the music evokes the same era. It was very cool to see the Satanic 60s depicted in a different way.

Next up was Strix Nebulosa. Their approach to black metal was an interesting one considering the crowd- these guys seem to use a more pagan, nature-y commentary on the genre as opposed to a Satanic one. When the vocalist announced that “there is no God, no Satan, only Nature,” A and I exchanged looks; them’s strong words in that crowd. I missed the very first part of Strix Nebulosa’s set, but ended up catching most of it, and I have to say that I enjoyed what I saw. It’s not easy to pull off two-man black metal, and they managed to do it well.

The next band was a local Chicago band called Empyreus, whom I really enjoyed. Empyreus’ style of black metal was more bombastic than Strix Nubulosa’s, and you could tell that this group had been playing together for quite a while. I saw a number of people in the crowd sporting their shirts, so they clearly are well known locally. Their original stuff was excellent, and as an added surprise they played a very well received cover of Celtic Frost’s “Morbid Tales.”

After Empyreus, we switched gears entirely, moving on to the deathy doom of Acid Witch. As I mentioned above, I never really listened to Acid Witch, but considering that horror movies are my other big geekery, I am officially a fan now. Their use of synth is really cool, and I love the cackles that the vocalist throws in. Unfortunately, there seemed to be some miscommunication between the band and the venue in terms of how much time they had- Acid Witch had two more songs to play when they were told they had to stop. The crowd was upset, as seeing Acid Witch play is seemingly a rarer occurrence than I had realized, but in the interest of not pissing off the Finns (they don’t seem like the type you’d want to piss off), it was probably for the best. The guys from Acid Witch were also super cool and very professional about the whole thing, and I enjoyed getting to talk horror movie soundtracks briefly with them.

Finally, Sargeist took the stage, plunging us once again into Satan sans the Sam Rami-esque camp. By this point my neck was starting to get understandably sore (I haven’t done two nights in a row in quite a while), but I couldn’t help but bang my head anyway. My heart jumped up in my throat when they played songs that I knew from listening sessions with J, and it was cool to see several of the same guys in a slightly different element than the previous night. I assumed that they would just use the same members for each night, but turns out they brought the whole crew- while Shatraug (guitar), Horns (drums), and Hoath Torog (vocals) were back for round two, another guitarist and bassist joined them on stage.

Sargeist started out with “Satanic Black Devotion,” and also played “Black Fucking Murder” from the same album. After the show, a couple of friends of mine suggested that hearing “Let the Devil In” would have made the night just that much better, but damn if it wasn’t a hell of a show anyway. Sargeist played a little bit longer than Behexen did the night before, but the night was still entirely too short. On the way out, I thanked Shatraug for the wonderful weekend and wished him and the bands safe travels on their tour before heading back to the hotel for a much needed shower and to split a bottle of Surly Pentagram with A.

As I mentioned last time, Sargeist was completely out of merch, so I didn’t end up getting anything from them but the patch from the night before (which is good, honestly- it meant I had gas money to get back to the Cities). I ended up with a Jex Thoth shirt. The merch guy asked if it was ok if it had European tour dates from 2012 on the back, and I said sure, that I thought the little demon dude on the front was cute. He reminds me of Clive Barker’s artwork, or of the little wolf dude from the new Arckanum record.

20140717_164651

A little blurry. But you get the picture (no pun intended)

Europe dates I didn't go to

Europe dates I didn’t go to

Overall, it was a killer weekend, and I’m very happy that I finally mustered up the courage to get down to Chicago to see someone. The trip down, I learned, is actually not all that bad, although the construction outside of Chicago (which I’m told has been there for a couple of years) was a real pain. I’ve never been to a city the size of Chicago, and I still haven’t really considering that A and I acted like stereotypical black metal fans and didn’t really leave our hotel, but considering the shootings that went on that weekend that’s probably for the best. Despite that, I know now that it’s not the worst drive to get down there, especially if we leave early, and that Chicago is a perfectly reasonable destination to travel to for concerts.

Also, I saw two bands that I never thought I’d get to see live, and they were incredible. This weekend helped remind me of why I love black metal so much, and I’m really grateful that I had the opportunity to see Sargeist and Behexen.

Infernal hails!

-Hagalaz

 

 

Concert: Behexen/Kommandant/Akashah (7/5, Beat Kitchen, Chicago)

Posted in black metal, black metal ist krieg, chicago, concerts, finland, orthodox black metal, underground, united states, USBM, war metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2014 by blackmetallurgy

When I heard Behexen and Sargeist were playing back to back shows in Chicago, I knew that I had to go regardless of how many hippies I had to fight or goats I had to sacrifice to get there. I’ve loved Behexen ever since I went on a quest a couple of years ago to find out just who these dudes were that I kept seeing everywhere, and J’s love of Sargeist is quite infectious. The fact that the shows coincided perfectly with A’s birthday just added to the multitudinous list of reasons that we absolutely had to go.

The first night was Behexen, and the first opener was a band called Akashah from Illinois. Their name made me think of Queen of the Damned, which I think was one of Anne Rice’s better works, so that made me happy from a nerdy perspective. I enjoyed their set- although it appears on Encyclopedia Metallum that Akashah is a one man project, the live set of course featured a full band. Formerly a member of the N.S.B.M. group the Pagan Front, there was no hint of Akashah’s political leanings anywhere in their set. While I really loved the drums, my only complaint was that the guitars were often not in tune with each other. As a musician, I know that this could be accounted for by any number of variables (the weather, for example, which alternated all weekend between eerily pleasant for July and torrential downpour), but it was simply a minor hiccup in an otherwise excellent performance.

Next up was Kommandant, who I have been anxiously awaiting seeing live again since I saw them play a set plagued by technical difficulties at Maryland Death Fest last year. Just as last time, the music was fantastic; I love the sheer amount of percussion Kommandant uses, and the snare drums are a nice touch to the military-esque presentation. Props to the snare drummer stage left who lost a drumstick in the last song and still managed to make it work without drawing unwanted attention to himself. Also, Kommandant’s vocalist has added a new piece to his stage costume- a crown of thorns that sits right at his eye level. Let me tell you, I have seen many, many black metal shows at this point in my life, and his stage get-up was the creepiest thing I have ever seen. Someone has been watching Hellraiser…

Last but certainly not least was Behexen. I was thrilled to death to note that the young lady who sold me my shirt at the merch table was playing with the band- she absolutely killed on the bass, and finger- picked everything. I ended up right in front of Hoath Torog during this set, and I’m pretty sure he didn’t blink the entire time. It was an intense performance, and I’m really grateful that I got to see it.

Behexen played a number of songs from throughout their career, with a little added focus on the new album, Nightside Emanations, as will happen with tours in support of new albums. Some of the setlist included “Death’s Black Light” and “In the Temple of the Silent Curses,” from the new album, as well as older favorites like “By the Blessing of Satan” and “My Soul for His Glory.” An enthusiastic fan in the crowd demanded to no avail to hear “Circle Me,” a song that I think a lot of us were hoping for as I think it’d be super cool live. I’m not complaining, however; I saw Behexen, and I never thought that would happen. The set clocked in at about 45 minutes of raging hell.

[Some helpful person uploaded the whole set from Martyrdoom to YouTube. Enjoy!]

In terms of souvenirs from the show, I got to take away a t-shirt from the merch table (the last one! In a girlie large, nonetheless) and some more autographs. As I mentioned earlier, the band’s touring bassist was working merch, and she was kind enough to let me try on the shirt over my clothes to make sure it fit before I bought it (never can tell with those girlie sizes). Naturally, then, when it came time for me to try to get my record signed, I went to her to ask if they would sign it.

I have a real knack for grabbing "the last one"

I have a real knack for grabbing “the last one.” Please ignore the cat hair

Hoath Torog signed my record and was really nice- it was a bit awkward that I didn’t have a pen. In the craziness that surrounded the morning that A and I left the Cities, I forgot to grab one of my silver Sharpies. Fortunately, the bartender had a pen I could borrow. Wraath also signed my record, although he seemed much less thrilled about it (two years in Minnesota, and I still haven’t figured out how to read Scandinavians).

Hoath Torog's autograph. Photo taken with help from The Cat

Hoath Torog’s autograph. Photo taken with help from The Cat

Wraath's autograph

Wraath’s autograph

A and I also grabbed some Kommandant merch. A ended up snagging a different shirt than mine (the new one, I believe, with the guns on the back), and even though that had an awesome red shirt, I opted for the old school one. I just love the gas masks. I was a rivet head back in highschool, and old habits die hard.

For the record, gas masks are uncomfortably tight. But I suppose you'd want them to be

For the record, gas masks are uncomfortably tight. But I suppose you’d want them to be

The bullets sold me

The bullets sold me (well. That’s not blurry at all.)

We also picked up Kommandant patches, and I grabbed a Sargeist patch as well. I’m really glad I did, too, as Sargeist didn’t have any merch available the next night.

More patches!

More patches!

It was an incredible evening full of a wide variety of terror. I got to see Kommandant, a Midwestern black metal band that I love, learned of Akashah’s work, and watched Behexen belch forth some brimstone. We retired to the hotel exhausted, and then I promptly started to not sleep well at all. Even more was in store, however, for the next night!

Ave,
Hagalaz

**I plan on making a post with some pics from the shows, but I need to edit them some. I left my flash off so as to not be That Guy, and they’re a little dark.

Review: House of Atreus- Into the Brazen Bull

Posted in death metal, local, minneapolis, minneapolis/st. paul, Reviews, underground, united states with tags , , , , , , , , on July 16, 2014 by blackmetallurgy

I have to say, I’m totally stoked by how much attention House of Atreus has been getting lately. They are one of my favorite local bands comprised of some of my favorite people, and it’s great to see their hard work paying off. The band’s new EP, Into the Brazen Bull, is an especially cool artifact for me because of just how many people I know involved with it; along with the band, I’m friends with the graphic designer and the owner of Antitheist Disseminations, the label on which it was released.

That being said, I am still going to try to be as objective as possible without letting the fact that I’m friends with these dudes cloud my judgment. But THAT being said, I really do love this EP, as I’m super picky about my death metal and ItBB is exactly the sort of thing I really dig.
The opening track, “Bastards on the Hillside,” is a fantastic way to start a death metal album. It’s a fun track, fast-paced and with a great fist-pumping moment about 33 seconds in. In particular, the layering of the guitars lends the track a grandiose feel, as well as setting the precedent for the rest of the album in terms of riffs that absolutely kill. (Hint- this is probably one of my favorite live songs of theirs.)

The riff onslaught and warlike themes continue with “Seed of Discord,” which opens with a sample of a battle. “Pitiless Chains” sees a shift in approach, beginning with a mid-tempo section followed by some really heavy guitar work- the layering that appears in so much of House of Atreus’ work is here supplanted by unison guitars. I’m not crazy about this track, I’ll admit- I prefer the band’s faster pieces. However, I think the inclusion of “Pitiless Chains” gives the album an added dimension as it shows the band is capable of more than just lightning fast riffing.

[The Youtube user mislabeled this; this song is actually “Pitiless Chains”]

Into the Brazen Bull, the title of the EP, is a reference to a particularly nasty form of execution in ancient Greece in which the condemned was locked inside a large bronze bull, a fire set underneath in order to slowly roast him to death. When the unlucky criminal screamed, his cries would filter through the mouth of the beast in such a way as to sound like the lowing of the animal. Of course, then, the title track must open with the eerie sound of a bull lowing, the crackle of flames audible underneath. This track is another favorite of mine, as the meter shifts quite a bit, showing off the drumming skills of session drummer George Tzitifas. Tremolo picking near the song’s mid-point gives it an unexpected black metal feel as well.

In a fitting frame to “Bastards on the Hillside,” the EP ends with “In the Shadow of Foreign Horses,” another blistering track perfect for banging your fucking head to. The descending riffs are quite awesome, and I like how they seem to decrescendo in the mix. Like in the previous track, there are some black metal-like moments in this one as well- I’m reminded of American black metal in the realm of Panopticon at about 3:32. The classical riffing towards the end of the track is also fun, and makes me smile as someone who grew up on classical music, and Anxietous Nero’s scream right after it makes me want to scream along.

The graphic design also complements the album really well. The lyrics and artwork are rendered in a bold bronze shade, evoking the image of the torture device from which the album takes its name. Likewise, I really like the contrast between the black and the bronze; while the riffs are extremely heavy, the guitar solos are like flashes of light. Using such sharply contrasting colors mimics these techniques in a visual sense.

Front cover

Front cover

The flames to accompany the bull

The flames to accompany the bull

Liner notes. I really love how the rust color pops on the black.

Liner notes. I really love how the rust color pops on the black

And the CD itself

And the CD itself

The jury is still out for me when it comes to the production on ItBB. It’s a little fuzzy, which is nice because it gives the sound an old school feel, but it’s still bright enough to allow for the guitar solos to come through and the lyrics to be heard. Certainly the sound has a density to it, but the brightness of the guitars makes them stick out of the mix ever so slightly. As a friend pointed out, though, your ears quickly adjust to the mix, making it difficult to notice any weirdness in the production.

Into the Brazen Bull truly deserves all the accolades that it has received thus far, as well as much more. Catchy from beginning to end, the album incorporates an old school, punky death metal style with an original flair. And don’t just take my word for it, give it a listen for yourself. You can find the album on House of Atreus’ bandcamp page here.

Hagalaz’ Favorite Tracks:
Bastards on the Hillside
Into the Brazen Bull

Ave,
Hagalaz

 

Mayhem at Burning Fist!

Posted in 2014, burning fist, mayhem, Reviews on July 10, 2014 by blackmetallurgy

Since I’m sure you all have been anxiously awaiting my endless gushing about how awesome the new Mayhem is, you can read my review over at Burning Fist!

Ave.

-H

Gratuitous Birthday Playlist 2014

Posted in 2014, black metal, blackened death metal, death metal, doom, local, mayhem, musings, stoner metal, traditional heavy metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 10, 2014 by blackmetallurgy

Well. This is late, and it’s late because I was busy being the birthday girl, something I don’t get to do very often because for some reason I’m always out of town on my birthday. But this year I wasn’t, and I spent a glorious evening with A at the HammerHeart Brewery followed by more hangs the next day with coworkers. And then I’ve been in Chicago, seeing Behexen (!) and Sargeist (!), which I will rave about soon enough.
However, here it is. My gratuitous birthday playlist for 2014!

***

1. Behemoth- O Father, O Satan, O Sun

I really love Behemoth’s new album, and I’m going to be working up a review for it soon. Suffice it to say for now that this song hits me right in the feels.

2. Iron Maiden- The Evil That Men Do

I kind of skipped Iron Maiden, having plummeted face first into symphonic black metal (I grew up on classical music. It was a natural progression). However, countless hours of listening to Maiden at DJ night over the past year has shown me the error of my ways, and I’m devouring this stuff like candy lately.

3. Behexen- Death’s Black Light

Behexen is on here because holy crap I got to see them the other night. That’s nuts. I never thought that would happen. They played this song too…

4. Sargeist- Let the Devil In

Also Sargeist. In terms of things I never thought I’d see live, they rank slightly higher than Behexen.

5. Arckanum- Þjóbaugvittr

I’ve been listening to a lot of Arckanum lately too. I love how meditative it is- the music is atmospheric and repetitive, but the subtleties in the melodies ensure that it never gets boring. Plus, Shamaatae is one of the most interesting figures in black metal to me, and I feel like Arckanum often gets overlooked.

6. Mayhem- Watchers

Y’all know already about me and Mayhem. Just like any long-time fan, I held my breath until I heard their new album, and was pleased to find that I loved it. Especially this song. Those riffs.

7. King Diamond- A Mansion in Darkness

Having secured my King Diamond ticket for St. Louis (!!!), I have also been listening to a lot of his solo work recently. I know Mercyful Fate much better, and I decided that it was nigh time I made myself more familiar with the King himself. This is probably my favorite track on Abigail– I love haunted houses.

8. Sleep- Dragonaut

My all-time favorite Sleep song. Dat bass. Dat doom.

9. Teitanblood- Silence of the Great Martyrs

We’re only halfway through, so I have yet to know for sure, but Teitanblood’s new one, Death, just might be my favorite album this year.

10. House of Atreus- Bastards on the Hillside

I’ve also been jamming out a lot to local legends (and good friends of mine) House of Atreus. Their new EP is brilliant stuff, and I have a review lying around here somewhere that I need to get edited…

11. Dissection- Dark Mother Divine

Shut up. I like this album.

***
So that’s it. My birfday playlist for THIS year. Watch this space- like I said, I’m in the editing stages of my House of Atreus review, and about to start on one for the new Behemoth. I got bit by the black metal bug BAD this past weekend, so I’m probably going to be churning out stuff more frequently again (also I will try to get up a review for the shows I saw in Chi-Town last week).
Ave!
-Hagalaz