Archive for the france Category

Black Metal Videos, Take 2 (2016 Edition)

Posted in 2016, black metal, france, greece, music video, norway, sweden, videos with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 17, 2016 by blackmetallurgy

DUDES. I’m sorry this is late. I got bogged down in work and homework and then I went to see Jaws in a theater and I forgot to post. Anyway, here’s this spacefiller post that I’m totally not happy with. Hopefully someone gets something out of it.

***

The other day, I read back over the post that I did on black metal music videos a few years ago, and decided it was probably time for another. This coincided with the release of the new Dark Funeral video for “Unchain My Soul,” which is astoundingly goofy and worthy of sharing (although the song is very decent, says the girl who doesn’t like Dark Funeral all that much). There’s not much of a point to this post beyond “look at this cool stuff that has happened” and some observations about the changing nature of black metal cinematography, but it’s always good to have more music video fodder, yes?

So let’s just start Dark Funeral, shall we? Dark Funeral has a new album coming out this year, and I actually like “Unchain My Soul,” despite my typical stance that they haven’t done anything good since the 90s (it’s horribly overproduced, in my opinion, but it’s catchy). The video, however, J described as looking “like a video game from 2004.” I’m not sure what the message is here, unless it is that dark hooded figures associated with black metal and Satan like to walk in the woods, which is kind of a given. Although the pig’s head is a nice touch in a throwback-to-the-early-nineties-Mayhem sort of way. (Aaand I’ll be reviewing this album soon over at Burning Fist, so yay!)

My personal favorite part of this video is the flaming pentagram and inverted crosses. It’s got a certain “Satan’s first Geocities website” flair to it.

Fortunately for all of us, it seems that we may get more silly black metal videos as Dark Funeral’s competition over in Norway, Dimmu Borgir, have promised us a new album for 2016. You know you’re excited for more stuff like this. I share this one because it’s obviously the best Dimmu lineup.

I also share it because I don’t know what’s going on here. At all. But it’s going on in glorious, high definition.

Rotting Christ has also been busy with the video-releasing in support of their (awesome, excellent, you need to check it out if you haven’t) new album Rituals. First of all, there’s this little gem that I yelled a bit about last week, which is a hymn to Shiva, and then No Clean Singing brought this to my attention a couple of days ago, making me glad I held off on this post. Watching this video brings out even more really cool aspects of the record, and now I’m looking forward more than I was before to doing a review of this for y’all.

Additionally, Abbath’s new video for Winterbane is also really cool. You get traditional Immortal synchronized headbanging, but that’s… about it really. There’s no crabwalk, and this video actual features a shaman-ish troll-ish forest creature thing… I have no way to accurately describe it. But it crawls into the water all Jenny Greenteeth-like, but since I’m pretty sure the imagery isn’t Celtic that doesn’t fit. Either way, it’s super cool, and where the stars go all sparkly at 3:07 makes me super happy. King ov Hell’s bass lines also get emphasis in the video, which is cool (hooray for bass in black metal!) and Abbath’s look at the end is fantastic.

Bonus- there’s an un-corpse-painted Abbath face in this video.

At the risk of inundating you with lyric videos, because that is the hip thing to do if you are black metal band putting out music in 2016, I will leave you here with an older video. I like to imagine that Aosoth made this video at the behest of a long-suffering agent, and chose the longest song on the album out of which to make a terrifying visual. It’s gloriously creepy and obnoxious because of it’s sheer length, and you get to listen to Aosoth while it plays (you luckies).

Enjoy, kids. And I’ll be back soon where I will assuredly scream about fun things like the fact that I get to see SHINING and PANOPTICON in the fall and DESTROYER 666 and GHOST next month and that MARDUK ❤ is coming back to play in ma ville. Also the brand spanking new book that Necrobutcher wrote that appeared on my doorstep yesterday, and all sorts of fun things.

-H

 

 

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.)

***

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

2013: A Black Metal Year in Review

Posted in black metal, black metal history, concerts, DSBM, festivals, france, funeral mist, mayhem, memorial, musings, norway, sweden, true norwegian black metal, underground, united states with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2013 by blackmetallurgy

2013 was a year full of ups and downs for me, personally; this blog actually seems to be getting some attention, and I am getting to use it to help get the word out on some of my friends’ projects, which is cool. I have also been investigating the Twin Cities metal and punk scenes, which has made me lots of new friends and has ensured that I have seen a staggering amount of live music this year, particularly this summer. Burning Fist is publishing some of my reviews, which is totally amazing, and I still have other reviews on the table for other people, not to mention the ones I have yet to finish for this (Inquisition?). I have also finally melted down in pretty much the most awful anxiety-ridden puddle of despair that I’ve been in, which is impressive, considering the past couple of years, and I’m finally starting to claw my way out of that. That, mixed with taking on entirely too much this past semester because I might be an idiot, has ensured that I am way behind on updating, and that I have neglected this blog far more than I would have liked in the past year. But no more. I’m going to fix that. Next semester shall be less crazy, and I still have a pile of new albums I’d like to blather about.

Anyway, things have also been broiling in the black metal world lately. Between more run ins with the law, attention being paid to great underground bands, and the past rearing it’s head, a lot has happened in 2013. So without further ado, enough about me. Let’s talk about…

20 Year Album Anniversaries

This year contained the anniversary years of a lot of amazing albums. Some of the heaviest hitters, of course, being Immortal’s Pure Holocaust and Darkthrone’s A Blaze In the Northern Sky (the latter has been spinning in my car lately, it being Minnesota and winter and all). Next year, of course, will see the 20th anniversary of De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. May have to get myself a vinyl of that to celebrate (and by may, I mean, will, of course).

Obscure, Fantastic Black Metal is Seeping Into the States

Maryland Deathfest has just been an absolute hotbed for great black metal lately, and obscure stuff, too. This past year saw Aosoth and Antaeus playing sets on the same day (poor guys must have been exhausted. I was exhausted, and I was just watching them), along with fellow countrymen Glorior Belli and the incredible Ascension, whom I had never before heard of and stand very much corrected. Upcoming in 2014, MDF has plans to host Mgla, Enthroned, and Taake, just to name a few. Hopefully Hoest can stay out of trouble for long enough to play a set in Baltimore, and hopefully he will have pants (dear god, let him have pants. I’ve already seen more of that guy than I want to).

Black Metal Pop Culture Is At Its Height

Black metal is gaining popularity outside the underground, for better or worse (hipsters are the new core kids, I ‘spose). However, this is not always a bad thing. Vegan Black Metal Chef, for instance, is working on a cookbook, and metal cookbooks are the best. Likewise, we got a multi-part web documentary on one man black metal projects that was quite illuminating. While the fascination of those whom Nathan Explosion would refer to as “regular jackoffs” has resulted in such happenings as the short film on black metal that aired early this year that I ultimately decided I couldn’t be okay with, this interest in black metal has also resulted in such awesomeness as the brand spanking new book, Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult. My copy just arrived in my hot little hands today, and my, if it doesn’t seem like a treasure trove. Have already heard great reviews from a trusted source on the Mayhem bits, and anyone who actually sees fit to provide Funeral Mist with their deserved place in the canon has my full attention. Looking forward to devouring this thing in the time left before school starts. And speaking of Funeral Mist…

Funeral Mist is Alive

It lives! Arioch has seen fit to bless his followers with a box set that is pretty much of epic proportions. I am going to do an actual in depth review of the thing soon, but for the time being, suffice it to say that it is an extremely nice edition, and the sound is much improved, at least from the CDs that I have. Trisagion is a beautiful thing, not least of all because it is proof that Funeral Mist is still alive and kicking, at least for a while longer.

Varg Gets, Predictably, and Actually Seemingly Unfairly, Arrested. Again.

Back in July of this year, infamous murdering racist creepy DnD-picture-staging weirdo Varg Vikernes was arrested, again, along with his wife. Vikernes was stockpiling guns, apparently, and was, predictably, taken into custody because when you’re a famous, high profile criminal, and you’re stockpiling weapons, that’s what happens. From the reports that I’ve read, however, it seems to me that Vargy Varg is actually innocent of doing anything wrong this time. Nevertheless, Varg now has one more arrest on his record. Wonder what the French black metal guys think of him?

Varg Quits Black Metal. Again.

Apparently everyone’s favorite church arsonist is also throwing in the towel in terms of composing black metal, again. As anyone who’s followed Burzum for longer than twenty minutes can tell you, this is not an uncommon occurrence. He’ll probably be back. But just in case he’s not, Varg’s played himself out with this little ditty, which is, once again, quite lovely.

The Lid Finally Blows Off on Blake Judd’s Shenanigans

Blake Judd, notorious frontman of Nachtmystium, found himself having a very bad year indeed despite an apparently successful comeback last year that I actually blogged about. Silencing Machine made it onto my list of best albums for 2012, utilizing an original approach that blended black metal and industrial music, Mr. Judd got married, and everyone was so happy to hear that he was finally recovering from his legendary drug addiction. This year, Nachtmystium has been put on indefinite hiatus, rumors are circulating that Judd stole the name and project behind Hate Meditation (whose new release, Scars, is not bad at all), apparently his wife divorced him, and last I heard, he was behind bars in Cook County jail for ripping off countless people who never got the merch and stuff that he’d promised them, having tied up all of their money in… something. Projects. Drugs. Who knows. I don’t. All I know is that I met the guy last year, and he was really cheerful and nice to me and J, and I am sad to hear about all this, because it always sucks to find that people are not as nice as you thought they were.

Kim Carlsson Dyes Hypothermia Shirts With His Own Blood

Yeah. So that happened early in the year. Fascinating stuff; I decided, however, that Kim and I are just not close enough yet for me to feel comfortable owning a shirt that’s been mixed in his blood. And by that I mean that I don’t know him at all. They are one of a kind anyway. (And there aren’t any more available. Kim has, obviously, a limited amount of materials to work with).

Watain Writes A Ballad

And it’s pretty damned good, I think.

Rest in Peace, Euronymous

I didn’t do a special post in his honor like I do normally, probably because August 10th was about the epicenter of my depressive meltdown that had been oncoming for about a year and a half. Nevertheless, we should always strive to remember our fallen brothers. Hail, Euronymous. Rest in peace.

***

And yes, actually, I’m listening through the new Horna right now, trying to scramble to hear as much new black metal as I can to draft your best of list. (Why does this track sound like Watain?)

-Hagalaz

Concert: Anathema/Alcest/Mamiffer (9/22, Mill City Nights, Minneapolis, MN)

Posted in blackgaze, concerts, doom, doom metal, england, france, mill city nights, minneapolis, minneapolis/st. paul, post-black metal, united states with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2013 by blackmetallurgy

As I mentioned last time, Alcest had to hurry out of the store so they could make it to the venue in time to do sound checks, etc. I got to Mill City nights a little bit before the show started and browsed merch for a while- Mamiffer had an amazing tank top with a cat on it. Also, Anathema and Alcest had some pretty cool shirts and merch. The crowd for this show was varied; I saw people I had never seen before, and lots of people brought their significant other (metal is not usually romantic. But if it was, it’d sound like Alcest).

Mamiffer was a really excellent opening act. Eerie and atmospheric, they provided the perfect intro to a band like Alcest. They consistent of a female vocalist/keyboardist and a guy guitarist, and it reminded me somewhat of a post-rock set in that they would use feedback between songs to give the illusion of no downtime. I really enjoyed their set, and I look forward to hearing more from them.

Alcest was the next band on this shortened bill, and they were absolutely incredible. The highlight of the night for me, Alcest played a lot of songs off their latest album, Les Voyages de L’Âme (incidentally, that was the first ever review to appear on Blackmetallurgy). They also briefly touched on the older albums, and debuted some new material for the upcoming record. I will admit, I was in tears; it’s been a rough year for me, and Alcest has gotten me through a lot of it as Alcest plays the happiest songs I know. It was incredible to see them live, and an absolute honor to meet Neige.

Anathema finished up the night as co-headliners. Their set was very impressive- I can tell that the members of Anathema are all very talented and natural musicians. However, the music was really not my style at all. Anathema used to be big into doom, but their newer material has moved to a poppier sound, barely even metal at all. At one point they said they’d play an old song, but alas, it wasn’t old enough. Those of us who hoped that Anathema would cater to fans of the older material left feeling dissatisfied with the Englishmen’s set.

I didn’t buy a t-shirt this time. The only shirt that Alcest had that I was somewhat interested in was only available in L and XL by the time I got up to the booth to buy something. I ended up getting a record, as I absolutely love Écailles de Lune and didn’t own a physical copy of it, and I knew how hard it would be to track down an Alcest record (Into the Void, for instance, doesn’t have any). I am really, really glad I got the record. I saw Neige standing by the merch tables after I bought my record and borrowed a pen from a security guard so I could see if he’d sign it too. He did, of course, and I got to thank him for the music and tell him that it helps my mental state a lot when times are bad.

:D

😀

The vinyl itself is beautiful too. Like pale blue marble.

The vinyl itself is beautiful too. Like pale blue marble.

Although Anathema was a bit disappointing (for me, anyway), I thoroughly enjoyed Mamiffer, and Alcest made an absolute mess of me. I had wondered how well they’d do on Mill City Nights’ big stage, but the turnout was really excellent. Great night, great show, great company, great band/guys. Three weeks later I’m still trying to shake the daze.

**

Upcoming things- I saw Saint Vitus last week, so I’ll talk about that soon, and also I am going to be reviewing a couple of albums that my buddy over at Ars Magna Recordings sent me. Then, of course, there are reviews of the new Watain and Woe, and I am planning on snagging the new Inquisition as soon as it drops and work on tracking myself down a copy of Gris’ new one. I might be doing a review of the new Ensiferum as well. I’ve also got some other things in the works, and Watain on Wednesday (!!!). Still incredibly busy, but I’m going to make it my goal to work on the blog at least 30 minutes every day so I can hopefully stay on top of things.

 -Hagalaz

Alcest In-Store Appearance at Into the Void Records! (St. Paul, MN)

Posted in france, local, minneapolis/st. paul, post-black metal with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 2, 2013 by blackmetallurgy

Last week I got to be a part of something REALLY cool- a special in-store appearance at Into the Void Records with Alcest! They played a short acoustic set (just a couple of songs; they had to get on over to the venue) and then hung out for 15-20 minutes for a meet and greet and to sign people’s stuff.

It was an awesome experience to get to meet Neige and get my own stuff signed as well. He was also kind enough to sign a CD booklet for my friend Jamie, who recently moved back to Georgia (and who needs to blog more now that he has time). The event was also really good for the store- it’s a good thing we were stocked up on Alcest albums. I counted 40 people there before the set, and I think a few more wandered in during the performance. Before the band left for the venue they signed a poster that a friend had made for the store. It was a really lovely time, and Into the Void is going to try to host a band each month, at least for signings/meet and greets if not actual sets. (Right now I am pushing for Exhumed in October.)

Pics/vid are below.

The stage is set

The stage is set

Alcest playing their acoustic set.

Alcest playing their acoustic set

Me and Neige

Me and Neige

Neige signing the banner

Neige signing the banner

Tofu forever!

Tofu forever!

:D

😀

[Yeah, so I guess I have a YouTube now. I can’t imagine I’ll use it much, ‘cept for maybe stuff like this.]

Review of the actual Alcest concert coming as soon as I can get it typed.

-H

Gratuitous Birthday Post 2013

Posted in black metal, doom, france, grindcore, local, musings, sludge metal, thrash with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 29, 2013 by blackmetallurgy

This post is from yesterday, which was my birthday, for real. But because the internet at the hotel only wanted me to use Chrome, and Chrome likes to eat my links, I saved it until now. Here it is!

***

Here it is, ladies and gentlemen, my gratuitous birthday post of “things I am currently listening to” on June 28, 2013. Happy Birthday to me, happy birthday to Jon Nödtveidt (R.I.C.), and happy birthday to Frost. Because June 28 is a great day for birthdays and black metal.

Again, the list goes to 11, because Chaos and Spinal Tap and all that jazz. Without further ado, your black metal blog-ess has been listening to:

1. Aosoth- Under Nails and Fingertips

I’ve already ranted and raved about how much I love Aosoth’s new album, as well as the devastating effect they had on me at Deathfest this year. Because I can’t get enough of IV: An Arrow in Heart, this one has pretty much stayed on circulation for me this year.

2. Blut Aus Nord- …The Meditant (Dialogue with the Stars)

I recently purchased my very first Blut Aus Nord album (ludicrous, I know, especially considering how much I love French black metal), Memoria Vetusta II: Dialogue With The Stars. This has quickly become one of my favorite albums; it is glorious, and I want to drive out to the middle of nowhere and listen to it under the stars.

3. Kylesa- We’re Taking This

I had never heard Kylesa before a couple of months ago, and I wasn’t sure what to make of them at first. Since then, however, they have really grown on me, and now I can’t get enough of this sludgy stuff. I really love their new album Ultraviolet (which I am going to review, I promise. I am at a conference right now); this is from that.

4. Cough- Crooked Spine

Speaking of the South and slow things, Southern doom has also been on my radar a lot lately. Cough is pretty indicative of the stuff I’m talking about; Pallbearer as well.

5. Kreator- Command of the Blade

I am ashamed to admit that Kreator has been one of those gaping holes in my collection. Recently, however, I bought a used copy of Pleasure To Kill off my friend, and I have been digging the hell out of it. Thrash is a genre I skipped (except for Metallica, but that’s not special. Growing up in Oklahoma everyone is into Metallica), and I’m really enjoying navigating it.

6. Katharsis- The Last Wound

As far as black metal I should know but never really listened to goes, Katharsis is high on the list. I have been making it a point to listen to bands that I have seen everyone post but me, and so I’ve been spinning these guys lately.

7. Ptahil- The Black Fire

Although I still listen to A LOT of black metal, make no mistake, I have been listening to a lot more black metal genre-melding stuff lately, including blackened doom. Ptahil is from Indiana, and I saw them open for Black Witchery recently.

8. Candlemass- Samarithan

Really? When am I not listening to Candlemass? Now I own the Nightfall reissue on vinyl (it is BEAUTIFUL) as well as their 2005 s/t release, so I listen to them more than ever.

9. Sacramentum- When Night Surrounds Me

When school was ending for the semester, I went into Into the Void to buy myself a copy of Pilgrim’s Misery Wizard (Really. Serious doom kick), and my friend told me that if I didn’t buy this Sacramentum record we weren’t friends. So I did, and I love it. I am not willing to say it is better than Storm of the Light’s Bane; it is different than Storm of the Light’s Bane. But I don’t know that I could rank this album below it, either.

10. Holy Grail- Call of Valhalla

Holy Grail is one of those bands that I checked out because they are playing here soon, and I want to go to the show (the same thing happened with Kylesa). The result was the same as what usually happens when I listen to traditional heavy metal, which is that I think I should listen to more traditional heavy metal. Looking forward to seeing these guys live.

11. Black Market Fetus- Blinded By the Cross

Because every good playlist needs grindcore. Alas, I only got to see Black Market Fetus play once before they disbanded, but they were one of my favorite local bands when I lived in Iowa, and are one of my favorite grind bands ever.

…And that’s all folks. As you can see, DOOM.

‘Til next time.

Review: Aosoth- IV: An Arrow In Heart

Posted in black metal, france, Reviews with tags , , , , , , on June 23, 2013 by blackmetallurgy

I haven’t been doing very many reviews this year (other than the live reports), and this one is way overdue. Aosoths’ newest release IV: An Arrow In Heart, dropped on April 16, and I have little doubt that this one’s going to find itself on my top albums of 2013 list. A review of the album that I read earlier this year described it as “cold,” which I find to be pretty accurate.

The other word that I would use to describe IV is tense. Aosoths’ fourth release is an album that thrums with tension from one end to the other. Right out the gate, the title track begins with a churning guitar riff that forecasts the relentless turmoil that you are about to subject yourself to for the next hour and some. A bit of reprieve occurs in the drum feature, but very little. It’s more of a pause than any kind of relief; the eye of the storm, as it were. This is the first track I heard from the album, as the band posted a shortened version to their Facebook, and I was making bold statements about the thing from that moment forward.

If you were hoping for the tension to slacken a bit, too bad. The next three tracks continue the assault, applying Aosoth’s spin on the taut dissonance indicative of the nation that brought you Deathspell Omega. Chords clash, the melodies churn seemingly haphazardly, and there is no moment to get your bearings before they have shifted again. “Temple of Knowledge” features another crypt-like bass and drum break, followed by an unexpected and enjoyable drum pattern as the song eases back into its blistering pace.

 “Broken Dialogue, Part I and Part II” bring a new atmosphere to the onslaught, featuring samples and minimalist melodic lines. In many ways, it’s pretty, but none less unsettling than the rest of the album. Like the drum break in the title track, with every note you sense that there is more lurking in the darkness.

The album bookends itself with the title track and “Ritual Marks of Penitence,” a nearly 15-minute-long epic that encompasses the same drawn out sense of foreboding as its sister track. Also, this is the track that Aosoth chose to make a video of, which is awesome, as it’s probably the least likely candidate for such a venture. While the tension that comprises the album as a whole absolutely never slackens, this final track has a triumphant feel to it as well. As the video depicts, there is peace in succumbing to the dark.

I really enjoyed the production on this album, and the mixing of the bass especially. For a black metal album, IV is extremely bass heavy. The use of the low end on the drum/bass breaks is also very enjoyable, as you can hear enough of the vibration of the strings to give these passages that cold, hollow feel. Also, the drum patterns throughout are always interesting; there are a lot of blast beats, of course, but the patterns are always shifting, even varying the placement of the high hat in some of the blast beats on “Under Nails and Fingertips.” Aosoth has pulled out all the stops on this one to ensure that the listener can never quite get a handle on where the songs are going next, and it is masterfully done.

I was a little worried about my ability to get a copy of this album when it came out; Agonia Records is a little expensive to get things from when you live in Minnesota. Fortunately for me, I scored big: Shane at Into the Void got in a few copies on CD, and I stumbled upon a special edition double LP at Maryland Deathfest. The packaging is quite simple with no liner notes, but encompasses nicely the more minimalistic moments of the album. Once again, I would agree with whoever said “cold” to describe the feel of the artwork; all in blacks and blues and whites, the artwork certainly compliments the shifting nature of the music with its emphasis on shadow and light. The cover of the thing is also astoundingly beautiful. Both versions are lovely- I am impressed by the bass tone on the vinyl as well.

The CD

The CD

IMAG0991

LP

LP

I didn't include pics of the vinyl, because I didn't get the colored ones.

I didn’t include pics of the vinyl, because I didn’t get the colored ones. I believe they came in blue and white. (Feel free to ignore the cat toys, or not.)

Beautiful artwork.

Beautiful artwork.

When I first heard this album, I declared it my favorite of the year. Of course, that was in April, and we still have much more to go (including new stuff from Watain and Inquisition), but I know this one will still rank high, even in December. IV: An Arrow In Heart is the most unsettling album I have heard since Leviathan’s True Traitor, True Whore. I mean that in the best way possible, too. It is a veritable masterpiece of merciless tension.

I’m not picking favorite tracks for this one, as the album is too cohesive for me to feel like butchering it in order to make a decision. The title track, I will admit, does have a certain effect on me.

I know that you are thinking that this album is expensive and difficult to get a hold of, but I highly encourage you to track it down and buy the thing. If you have a local record store, see if they can get it in. The packaging, while simple, is lovely, and also there are rumors of an Aosoth US tour, so let’s help them foot the bill and get over here sooner rather than later. You want to see Aosoth live, don’t you? (I saw them at Deathfest– trust me, you do.) As someone who owns this thing on two mediums, I can attest that it is well worth the cost and effort to track down.

5/5 horns, pentagrams, ONA sigils, what have you.