Archive for the marduk Category

Hagalaz’ Favorite Albums of 2015

Posted in 2015, best of, black metal, doom, doom metal, drone metal, finland, funeral doom, marduk, melechesh, orthodox black metal, sweden, traditional heavy metal, war metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 19, 2016 by blackmetallurgy

The other day, I was thinking of catch-up posts I needed to do and I thought, “Oh! I’ll do a post about my favorite albums of 2015!” I didn’t plan on it needing to be ten or eleven like I normally do because… it’s almost six months late, so why do you care? But then, lo, there were that many, so the list is eleven after all.

So without further ado, in mostly random order, my favorites of 2015.

11. Ghost – Meliora

After the huge fanfare for Infestissumam (and there was a lot of it. Remember when Ghost released those sex toys?), there was practically none for its follow-up. Really. I didn’t even know this album was out until about a week after it dropped, and I worked at a metal record store. Meliora feels like a throwback in a way; it’s more stripped down in the way that Opus Eponymous was, and I dare say a little heavier than its predecessors, “Cirice” feels almost doomy.

Favorite Tracks: He Is, Absolution

[Here’s Ghost playing “He Is” with the grandpas guitars.]

 

10. Sunn O))) – Kannon

Sunn O))) near the end of the year released their first full-length album (not with Ulver) since 2009’s Monoliths and Dimensions (which is absolutely, stupidly, dumbfoundingly awesome). Clocking in at barely over a half hour, Kannon is over a whole lot faster than you would hope (if you’re me), but that’s literally my only complaint about it. Here’s to Attila doing more crazy things with his throat!

H’s Favorite Track: Kannon, Pt. 3

 

9. Baroness – Purple

I was stupidly happy to hear that Baroness would have a new album out; after their terrible bus crash in 2012, I would not have been surprised if they never put out another album. Purple is a return to a heavier sound, and it simultaneously incorporates a lot of new sounds and styles, like in “Shock Me” and “If I Have to Wake Up (Would You Stop the Rain).” J thinks that 2012’s Yellow & Green may prove to be a transitional album if the band continues in this vein, and it will be interesting to see where Baroness goes from here.

Favorite Tracks: Shock Me, Kerosene

 

8. Melechesh – Enki

Melechesh is one of those bands that I think is really cool and innovative and doesn’t get nearly enough attention. 2010’s The Epigenesis was when they got the production budget to really hit their peak, and I wasn’t sure that they would be able to top it, but Enki definitely does. It’s tight, fast, full of fun shifting drum patterns and Eastern-influenced riffing and instrumentation. Now if we can just get them to tour here again… or headline…

Favorite Tracks: Tempest Temper Enlil Enraged, Doorways to Irkala

[And this is just track one.]

 

8. Shape of Despair – Monotony Fields

I was also very excited to hear that Shape of Despair had a new album coming out. Angels of Distress is one of the most upsetting albums I know- it’s beautiful, but it really is distressing. Monotony Fields (there’s one that came out between them that I didn’t know about! I will have to get on that) is another treatise in funeral doom the way it should be done- it’s bleak and slow-moving with some awesome keyboard parts. It’s also got some surprising turns- “Descending Inner Light” is almost joyful. For funeral doom. Which is really kind of the opposite of joyful. Huh.

Favorite Tracks: The Distant Dreams of Life, In Longing

[Here’s another track, because there are entirely too many high points on this album]

 

6. Saturnalia Temple – To The Other

Speaking of doom- Saturnalia Temple’s To The Other really is like gazing into the Void. Creepy, heavy, and just plain downright daunting (smothering?), this album reminds me of all of the ugliness and sonic twistedness of something like Teitanblood, but slower. Much. Much. Slower. It’s sort of like being slapped with a sledgehammer. But in a good way.

Favorite Tracks: ZazelSorath, To the Other

[Enjoy your nightmares.]

 

5. Shining – IX: Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends

Shining released their ninth full-length album last year, called Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends. This new album features an introductory track that is entirely fugue-like classical riffing, and later employs the use of a sitar. Say what you will about their stage antics and the general notoriety of vocalist Niklas Kvarforth, Shining remains, in my opinion, one of the most innovative black metal bands currently out there.

Favorite Tracks: Den påtvingade tvåsamheten, Besök från i(ho)nom

 

4. Mgła – Exercises in Futility

Mgła also returned with an offering every bit as good as everyone expected it to be. While I am still very partial to With Hearts Towards None, Exercises in Futility proves that Mgła is not slacking and is easily one of the best black metal releases of last year, even if it doesn’t really break any new ground. Blending old school style with third-wave melody, Mgła’s albums are consistently solid and enjoyable.

Favorite Tracks: IV, VI

 

3. Marduk – Frontschwein

2015 also saw the return of Marduk, and specifically the return of Marduk playing war music. Not to say that their past several albums haven’t been absolutely fantastic in their focus on Biblical/apocalyptic imagery, but let’s face it, war is kind of what they’re known for. Frontschwein does not disappoint, bringing in some of the best reviews that Marduk has seen in years and proving that black metal’s war machine hasn’t sacrificed any of their brutality.

Favorite Tracks: Nebelwerfer, 503

[Yes. That’s a tambourine.]

 

2. Amorphis – Under the Red Cloud

This is the weird one on the list. I have never listened to Amorphis before last year. At all. Basically, Shane just played it a lot at the record store and it really grew on me. While not typically the sort of thing that I listen to with any amount of frequency, Amorphis’ Under the Red Cloud is, I think, easily one of my favorite albums of 2015.

Favorite Tracks: Death of a King, Tree of Ages

[Again. There isn’t a bad song on this one either.]

 

1. Clandestine Blaze – New Golgotha Rising

My number one album of 2015 is actually a black metal album this year. If you’re not familiar with Clandestine Blaze, you should be, and if those vocals sound familiar… well, that would probably be because Deathspell Omega also channels their works through Mikko Aspa’s vocal chords. Only here he does everything. New Golgotha Rising is, on the surface, a relatively straightforward raw black metal album, but the more I listen to it, the more I find that it shifts around beneath the surface, like some kind of parasite in a sci-fi horror film. All of Clandestine Blaze’s catalog is seriously good stuff, but this new one is one of my favorites.

Favorite Tracks: (All of it, ya goofs, but if I have to pick,) Evocation Under Starlit Sky, Passage to New Creed

[I wanted to post this track because it does a good job of showing off that slippery riffage that Clandestine Blaze does so well.]

So there is a list of stuff I liked last year. Because dudes, I already had eleven. Which is why Enforcer isn’t on there along with other notable exceptions, and there’s still stuff I need to catch up on (Arcturus). The back catalog on the stuff I need to catch up on is huge. But, here is the stuff I was jamming a bunch last year for you to peruse while I try to stay on top of this year (new Rotting Christ is incredible, and Behexen and Inquisition’s new stuff is sounding really, really good).

Until next time…

-H

 

 

Review: Marduk- Frontschwein

Posted in 2015, black metal, marduk, Reviews, sweden with tags , , , , , on May 31, 2015 by blackmetallurgy

If there’s one thing Marduk does extraordinarily well, it’s war. Since the release of Panzer Division Marduk the band has been known for their tributes to rolling tanks and an unholy fusion of war and occult imagery. And it’s a poignant connection- apocalypses in plenty of religions involve warfare of some kind, and nothing smacks of evil quite like the Third Reich, which was actively involved with mysticism and esoteric practices. Nevertheless, with the exception of 2011’s “Iron Dawn” EP, the Swedish juggernaut hasn’t released a fully war-themed album since Panzer Division.

In 2015, the black metal war machine is back, and they’re as brutal as ever. Frontschwein is war-themed from front to back, and blends Marduk’s old-school, blistering, machine gun-esque blastbeats with Mortuus’ gut-wretching vocals, making for an album which combines the variety in Marduk’s later material with the sheer ferocity of their early work. This work is aided heavily by the addition of drummer Fredrik Widigs, a 26 year old prodigy whose efforts on this album are absolutely dumbfounding. Tying the entirety of the album together is Morgan’s masterful guitar riffs, sonically linking this newest of Marduk’s works to the rest of their considerable canon.

The album starts off with the title track, which bursts out of the gate with one of the catchiest riffs you’ll hear in 2015. Pretty standard in its straightforward approach to Marduk-brand black metal, “Frontschwein” accompanies such tracks as “Afrika” and “Rope of Regret” in its hearkening back to Marduk’s early days. The latter in particular is reminiscent of the brutality of Panzer Division Marduk, unceasing in its sheer speed. A traditional song, it makes for a great early release teaser in a promise that fans can expect a Marduk more tethered in its roots this time around.

Of course, not all of the songs on Frontschwein are sheer force. Songs like “Nebelwerfer” and “The Blonde Beast” utilize slower tempos, the former putting me in mind of such earlier tracks as “Prochorovka: Blood and Sunflowers” (which might be my favorite Marduk song. I don’t know. They are all my favorites at some point or another). The feel of this track is slow and inexorable, reeking of despair and hopelessness, another eventuality of war and destruction. In contrast, “The Blonde Beast” has an extremely catchy pacing and rhythm, the beat shifting onto the upbeat at 3:12.

One of my favorite aspects of Marduk’s music has always been that they do not mix out the bass as a lot of early black metal does, choosing instead to show off the low-end at varying points in their albums. As usual, Marduk makes full use of bassist Devo Magnusson’s considerable skill, amplifying the basslines in tracks like “503” and “Doomsday Elite.”

“503” is probably my favorite track on the album, and certainly, I feel, the most original. One of the slower tracks on the album, it’s in sharp contrast to its predecessor “502” on Panzer Division Marduk. What’s also exciting is the tambourine (yup, you read that right), which gives the roll-call a creepy, dancelike feel.

Likewise, Mortuus’ vocals are varied this time around, with “Thousand-Fold Death” featuring vocalizations at such speeds that it is almost like he is rapping, the speed of the lyrics mimicking the velocity of the drums and guitars. The title track also showcases more of Mortuus’ vocal talents, the higher pitch and rawness of the vocals so startlingly different from what I have come to expect that I was unsure that it was him at first.

The album artwork for Frontschwein keeps with the war theme; the regular edition features a color scheme a greyish green of army camo. Because I’m a huge nerd, I of course had to get the special edition version, which reminds me much of the special edition for Serpent Sermon. The war imagery continues here, with a shield on the front and an iron cross forming the “O” in the album’s title; the back also says “Marduk Legion,” a reference of course to the band’s supporters as well as another to war.

Front cover of the special edition. Ignore the Hello Kitty pants.

Front cover of the special edition. Ignore the Hello Kitty pants.

Back cover. Warshau III is the bonus track on the special edition- it's largely an atmospheric track.

Back cover. Warshau III is the bonus track on the special edition- it’s largely an atmospheric track.

Marduk Legion

Marduk Legion

A booklet containing images and extra layout serves as the extended liner notes, with a classy black field accented in silver. I really like the type font used in the notes, as it’s very stately. Once again, Holy Poison Design did the layout and Endarker the production, keeping much of the album’s work in-house. Perhaps the only thing I don’t like about Frontschwein is the packaging where the CD goes- these little slip-in covers scratch my CDs when I take them out to listen to them, and it’s profoundly annoying (I’m not sure if I bitched about that in reference to the last Watain album, but if I didn’t, I should have).

An example of the font. Sorry for the glare.

An example of the font. Sorry for the glare.

The pics are shaded in silver as well. Here's Devo for an example.

The pics are shaded in silver as well. Here’s Devo for an example.

Icky slip case.

Icky slip case.

Frontschwein is a fantastic release. It will certainly make it on my list of front-runners this year, and I personally think it ought to be on everyone else’s as well. I’m reluctant to say that it’s better than other albums (picking a favorite Marduk album is like picking a favorite child as far as I’m concerned), but it’s certainly a return to Marduk’s roots in blood-soaked soil. The ferocity in this one is unrelenting, and once again Marduk has proven their ability to subtly add new techniques to their arsenal while maintaining the relentlessness that has made them famous for their war albums.

Hagalaz’ Favorite Tracks:

Frontschwein
503
Falaise: Cauldron of Blood
Thousand-Fold Death

Hagalaz’ Valentine’s Playlist

Posted in black metal, death metal, grindcore, marduk, mayhem, NWOBHM, retro occult rock with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2015 by blackmetallurgy

Well, it’s that time of year again, when everyone starts pairing off in preparation for the annual spring mating season, which may or may not come to Minnesota this year considering that within the past couple of days we have plummeted into a second ice age. I will be spending MY Valentine’s day with some Schell’s Chimney Sweep and some retro sci-fi flicks, along with mini bundt cakes that my sent me in the mail. Which is really just as well.

Image from fuckyeahmetalecards on tumblr.

Image from fuckyeahmetalecards on tumblr.

But since nothing says “I love you” like a heaping pile of noisy extremity, I decided that I would post a playlist today for all your Valentine’s needs. So without further ado…

#11. Iron Maiden- 22 Acacia Avenue

For all the lonely hearts out there, Charlotte’s gotcha covered.

#10. Bathory- Woman of Dark Desires

Who knows how far Ms. Bathory’s desires went beyond bathing in the blood of virgins?

#9. Ghost- Monstrance Clock

Let’s play the word association game, boys and girls!

#8. Mayhem- Necrolust

Yeah, ok. So that’s pretty self-explanatory.

#7. Cannibal Corpse- Fucked With a Knife

You know. If you’re into that sort of thing.

#6. The Devil’s Blood- Cruel Lover

“I am the sound of the whip, and the pleasure of slaves…”

#5. Anal Cunt- I Respect Your Feelings as a Woman and a Human

Ah, romance.

#4. Gorgoroth- Unchain My Heart

Every time I hear this song or see the title, I’m reminded of the following, which was a big hit back when I was in junior high.

#3. Marduk- Bleached Bones

You know, in case you want some more necrophilia.

#2. Carcass- Microwaved Uterogestation

“Genital Grinder” is the obvious choice here. But you have to admit there’s something romantic about “Microwaved Uterogestation,” too.

#1. Celtic Frost- Tristesses de Lune

Because I love this song. So there.

So yes. Happy Valentine’s Day to you.

-Hagalaz

Funeral Mist Releases a Box Set!

Posted in black metal, funeral mist, marduk, sweden, underground with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2013 by blackmetallurgy

** UPDATE: I have learned that apparently the drop date will be sometime in December (no word on an exact date yet). Also, the Havok demo will NOT be packaged with the Devilry EP like on the CD.**

*Edited because I didn’t put an exclamation point at first. And Funeral Mist deserves at least one exclamation point)

Guys. YOU GUYS. A friend of mine shared an image on Facebook yesterday telling me that Noevdia is issuing a Funeral Mist box set sometime in November/December!

This is the image making the rounds on Facebook

This is the image making the rounds on Facebook

That’s right, kids. Gatefold double LPs (I’m intrigued to know if the Devilry album will also have the demo material on it like the CD version). Also, there is going to be a 28 page booklet of… something. What do you make a booklet of if the band doesn’t perform live? Arioch’s artwork? Because that would be really cool. And a poster, and a patch. Finally! So all the other little Funeral Mist fan-boys and girls don’t have to make their own Funeral Mist patch out of an oversized shirt.

As I’m sure you know, Funeral Mist is pretty much my most beloved metal band alongside Mayhem. And therefore, I’m sure you also have inferred that I’ve already pre-ordered my copy (there’s no official release date yet that I know of). Overseas folks, talk to Noevdia. US fans, the Ajna Offensive’s got us covered (to ship to Minnesota it’s going to cost me about $12, or at least that’s the estimate). This is a huge deal, guys, as these things (I assume) are pretty limited, will sell like hotcakes, and will be a rare chance for those of us who don’t have any Funeral Mist vinyl to get our hands on really nice editions.

Concert: Marduk/Moonspell/Inquisition/The Foreshadowing/Death Wolf (2/28, St. Paul, MN, Station 4)

Posted in black metal, concerts, marduk, sweden, united states, USBM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 8, 2013 by blackmetallurgy

Last Thursday I got to see Marduk live again for the third time, and Inquisition for the second! Marduk was actually the first black metal band I ever saw live, so they have a special place in my heart. I was really excited to see them again, and the entire night was full of incredible sets. The only downer was how few people showed up; I had seen a couple of people on Facebook say that they were primarily interested in Inquisition, so I expected an influx for their set, but even Inquisition had a smaller crowd.

One note on the venue- Station 4 seems to be updating a bit. They painted the bathrooms, and I have been told by those of the masculine persuasion that there is now a stall door in the men’s room. They’ve also carpeted the stage and added a little kiosk for the purchase of non-alcoholic drinks, which caters to people under 21 in the event of a 16+ or 18+ show (Marduk was 18+). Also, they have upgraded the sound some, which I will get to later (it is MUCH better). I know a lot of people gripe about Station 4 being a bad venue (silly, I think. Everyone who works there is awesome and it’s really easy to see from anywhere in the venue. The place has its merits), but it really does seem as though they are trying to spruce it up a little.

We got to Station 4 about 6:15, just in time to get in, say hello to my buddy Carlos, and get settled in for the local openers. First up was Masshu, who I was going to go see a couple of weeks ago at a local black metal gig that I ended up backing out on. They were really good- in particular, there were a lot of really good riffs coming from the guitars. I’m glad I got to see them this time around, and I hope I’ll see more of them. It’s good to know that we have such good local black metal here.

[This is from 2009, so they’ve been around for a bit]

Next up was Atrum Inritis, another band that I missed at that thing I didn’t go to. While Masshu was very straightforward in their approach, Atrum Inritis really amped up the drama. The female keyboardist/vocalist had her rig set up on a table that was set up like an altar, and regularly drank from a chalice during the performance. They also had bones and candles to add to the ambience, and the members of the band all wore cassocks. It was all very dramatic, but the band was really good- their stage show wasn’t compensating for their talent. They played drawn out, sort of atmospheric black metal, and they did a fantastic job. They are opening for Black Witchery and Deiphago in May, and I’m looking forward to seeing them again.

[This video does a good job of showcasing all the stage stuff, I think]

After the local bands played, Death Wolf took the stage. Morgan from Marduk started the band as The Devil’s Whorehouse back in 2004 and later changed the name to the current one. I was really excited to see Death Wolf live; they just dropped a new album called Black Armoured Death, which will be out in the States on March 19 (it’s been out since mid-February in Europe). Death Wolf plays more rock-inclined metal that is very punky and traditional sounding, and while it is enjoyable on record, it is amazing live. They are rather early on the bill, and Jamie and I thought they should have been higher up (I guess that perhaps Morgan is not Superman after all and needs rest before going on with Marduk though), but if you are going to make this tour you should definitely plan to see Death Wolf.

[From this tour. First Death Wolf performance in the United States]

Next up was The Foreshadowing, whose set I watched part of from the merch booth as I agonized over which shirt to get. The Foreshadowing are an Italian band, and are kind of gothy doom metal. They are not something I would go out of my way to listen to often, but they put on a good live show. The band interacted well with the crowd, and I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent up front for their set.

After The Foreshadowing came Inquisition. I saw Inquisition back in October with the Champions of the World Tour, in which they opened and played a 20 minute set (a killer 20 minute set, but a short one nonetheless). They were further up on the bill this time, however, and got to play a while longer. It was tremendous. I will never be able to get over how those two guys manage to do what they do live in such a flawless manner. Their set was amazing, and they played “Desolate Funeral Chant,” which kind of made my night. Absolutely fantastic.

[Ahhhh. Amazing]

Moonspell played a really fun set next. I listened to them a lot a couple of weeks ago trying to familiarize myself with them before seeing them live, and their material is very hit or miss for me. I enjoyed their set; although I felt that the music got a little repetitive at times, the band’s stage presence (and that of the VERY big Moonspell fangirl next to me) more than made up for it. Moonspell’s vocalist had some VERY shiny pants, and their keyboardist/guitarist should win the award for Mr. Congeniality, as he was the happiest person I’ve seen on that stage since that blond kid who played with Melechesh last fall. Despite not being a huge fan of the music and being really ready to see Marduk, I really enjoyed Moonspell’s set. I believe I also heard the vocalist say that they had some albums available at the merch stand that are not easy to get in the States, so if you are a Moonspell fan you might want to check that out.

Last but not least was Marduk, for whom more people should have stuck around. The crowd was small by this point, but I felt like it was a good crowd. Mortuus also seemed like he was in a good mood; he was bantering at the crowd a lot more than normal. Like last time, the sound was good- instead of just being a wall of noise, I could distinguish songs.  And they played pretty much everything I could have hoped for (alas, I don’t think they’ll ever add Prochorovka: Blood and Sunflowers to the setlist). Throne of Rats, Serpent Sermon, Azrael, Baptism By Fire, With Satan And Victorious Weapons, Nowhere, No-One, Nothing… the list goes on, but those are the ones that come to mind immediately (No Womb of Perishableness this time around). They also played a few more songs off the new album in this set instead of just the title track. Temple of Decay was on the setlist, which sounded awesome live even without the chanting. It was cool to have a slower song thrown into the mix too- Marduk doesn’t play them very often live, at least not when I’ve seen them. They also ended the night with Souls for Belial, which was great live. Jamie remarked to me later that they played with the pacing a little bit when the songs sped up and slowed down, easing into it some instead of just shifting suddenly like on record. All and all, it was an amazing show. So amazing, in fact, that I went home and ordered a copy of Blood, Puke, Salvation so I can watch Marduk live whenever I want.

[One from this tour. Wolves!]

[So cool live]

Like I said earlier, picking merch this time was difficult. Pretty much everything available is awesome. This is the shirt I wound up with- I like the decoration on the sleeve. It looks like Mortuus’ work; he always does good stuff.

I like the way the logos are incorporated here.

I like the way the logos are incorporated here.

The back. Very straightforward.

The back. Very straightforward.

A closeup of the sleeve.

A closeup of the sleeve (note that the cat hair does not come with the shirt)

Along with the shirt, I also picked up another Inquisition album. And am I glad I did! Into the Infernal Regions of the Ancient Cult is fantastic.

IMAG0766

[This is on there. It’s incredible]

I think there’s about a week left on the Voices from the Dark Tour, so if you get a chance to catch it, I highly recommend it. Every band in the package is excellent- Death Wolf is a must see live act, so make sure you catch them while you’re at it. Inquisition and Marduk are at the top of their game as always, and Moonspell and The Foreshadowing provide a nice contrast to the formidable heaviness. And remember to show up early and support your local bands!

-Hagalaz

Happy Black Friday!

Posted in black metal, dead, marduk, mayhem, norway, sweden, true norwegian black metal with tags , , , , , , on November 23, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

Well, it’s Black Friday, and seeing as how I am a hermit and a misanthrope who doesn’t like to be around large masses of people at the best of times, I will be spending it mostly in solitude (my mom is visiting, so I’m not completely alone). Things are starting to wind down school-wise, and next semester is already starting to look pretty bright. I get to take one less class than I thought I would have to, so I’ll have some down time. Expect this thing, then to start seeing more updates within the next few weeks. Sunday’s a quick turnaround this week (like I said, I’ve had company), but I will do a post for next week sometime.

For now, however, I will spam you with some good ol’ fashioned second wave black metal, because it’s Black Friday, and there’s snow on the ground in the Twin Cities.

-Hagalaz

[My choice for my Facebook Black Friday post. Mayhem is obvious, “Carnage” less so]

[Jamie’s pick. You can’t go wrong with Darkthrone]

[Because everybody loves a bloody Mortuus rolling around in the dirt]

[Jamie informed me that there is a video for this song. Crazy! (No, I don’t know why it was on Vh1)]

[There we go. My favorite old school Immortal song, in honor of the snow on the ground]

Hagalaz’ Favorite Black Metal Vocalists

Posted in black metal, dead, funeral mist, marduk, mayhem, norway, sweden, true norwegian black metal, underground, united states, USBM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

A while back, Vince Neilstein from MetalSucks wrote a post saying that metal vocalists had outlived their usefulness. Most of them are crap, he said, and pondered the idea that the reason why we keep them around is because they fill a kind of void, that human beings just take comfort in hearing a human voice. He also advocated for more instrumental metal. [Here is the original post, as well as a couple of commentaries.]

Well, I’m sure you all know how I initially reacted to this. “GASP! But what about X, Y, and Z?! No! Vocals are as much an instrument as the guitar is!” The function of the metal vocalist is too important to just shrug off. I mean, we really do need some kind of human connection, and many of the vocalists out there endeavor to do artistic things with their vocals.  Of course, that is not always the case; I am forced to admit that Mr. Neilstein is right on the account that there are some extraordinarily terrible vocalists out there. However, since his post, I have been ruminating on some of the better ones, the ones on whose behalf I objected to Neilstein’s premise with such vehemence.

So let’s do it. Here are some of my all-time favorite black metal vocalists (in no particular order, except for Dead, who I tend to stick at the front of most things).

Dead (Morbid, Mayhem)

Some people say that Dead is famous simply because he killed himself and not because he had any actual talent. Those people are philistines and should be disregarded. Dead is a bloody brilliant vocalist. Although I would argue that his best vocal work is with Morbid rather than with Mayhem, I also think that I would feel less certain about that if we had more studio work with Dead while he was in Mayhem. Dead’s vocals with Morbid are more of a raspy death rattle than the shrieks that he incorporates in his Mayhem work. Both, however, are creepy as all get out, and his knowledge of when to apply which vocals and how was impressive. Dead also has the added bonus of not being a very good singer, which makes his “la la la”s on songs like Disgusting Semla extremely endearing.

[La la la la la!]

[Have some Carnage. You don’t need to hear Freezing Moon again]

Arioch/Mortuus (Funeral Mist, Marduk, Triumphator)

In the same vein as Dead, Arioch (or Mortuus, or whatever he is going by now) has a very unique vocal style. He claims that he considers his voice as an instrument. Jamie says that Arioch is the Whitney Houston of black metal, and I reckon he’s pretty much right. Not only can the man belt out some of the ugliest screams and groans I’ve ever heard, but he does so on pitch. There’s a certain note (yes, note) that he hits in “Anti-Flesh Nimbus” that makes me convinced that he is also a very good singer. The fact that he has managed to do these kinds of vocals for as long as he has (he’s been pretty active since about 1996) without damaging his throat is impressive. One of the most versatile vocalists I have ever heard, his voice ranges from majestic adulations to frenzied screams. In my personal opinion, the best vocal cords/lungs in black metal.

[Resisting the urge to post “Holy Poison” because I want you to hear the crazy screaming]

[Been listening to this song a lot lately. And people say Marduk are a one trick pony. Pssshaw, I say]

Dagon (Inquisition)

I really like Dagon’s vocals because he approaches the entire concept of black metal vocals from a whole other angle than most of his contemporaries.  Dagon claims that he found the traditional shrieks of black metal to be increasingly cliched, and wanted to approach the music from a different perspective. Thus, Dagon’s weird, croaky, and inhuman chants were born. If Inquisition’s goal is to ask us to meditate on the cosmos and the metaphysical, Dagon’s bizarre, yet somehow soothing, chanting provides the perfect commentary.

[I absolutely cannot wait for this to happen live]

Kim Carlsson (Lifelover/Hypothermia/Kyla/Life Is Pain/Kim has been in so many bands he has an “Etc.” by his name on Encyclopedia Metallum)

A very over the top showman, it is tempting to want to dismiss Kim Carlsson because of his seeming enthusiasm to bleed all over everyone and everything as well as his vocals, because to be honest, he doesn’t have that good of a voice. This is precisely why I love his vocals, however. The guy makes do with what he has, and his vocals, while they may not be all that pretty, have a veritable ton of feeling behind them. Kim Carlsson’s shrieks are positively (negatively?) agonized, and are all the better for their lack of finesse. That raw edge is just what the doctor ordered if you are feeling that your blood needs curdling.

[Never really could get into Lifelover, but I still dig the vocals]

[Now that I can get behind]

ICS Vortex (Arcturus, Borknagar, Lamented Souls, solo work, ex-Dimmu Borgir)

ICS Vortex has, quite simply, one of the most awesome voices I have ever heard. His range is simply amazing, covering every inch of ground between harsh growls and vibrato-laden falsetto. A very versatile vocalist, he has sung for bands of every ilk, including doom metal, black metal, and avant garde. Very few singers can claim Vortex’s virtuosity, and songs like Arcturus’ “The Chaos Path” are indicative of his skill (I’m pretty sure they wrote that song just for him, or he wrote it, or something. I am convinced that there is not another vocalist in the world who could do justice to it in the way Vortex does). Also, Vortex seems like just about the nicest guy on the entire planet, with a goofy stage presence and a friendly smile. He is really good about interacting with his fans (he once left me a comment on MySpace back in the day, just, it would appear, to be nice and make a fan’s day). A personality to match his pipes.

[The best Dimmu Borgir song. No, don’t argue. I’m right]

Attila Csihar (Tormentor, Mayhem, and more bands than I could possibly ever name)

In terms of Mayhem’s vocalists, there seems to be endless debate as to who is the best. Attila, for some reason, often seems to get short shrift in this battle. I’ve never really understood why. He’s got a powerful voice, and he can actually sing as well (which is more than can be said for our poor friend Dead). His chanting on “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” is one of my favorite parts of that entire album; it’s instant chills. Also, Attila has a really fun stage persona; when I saw Mayhem about a year ago, he sang to a skull that he brought on stage with him and wore a cape. Besides his work with Mayhem, his band Tormentor (from his native Hungary) was groundbreaking in the early black metal underground. In interviews that I have seen with him, Attila seems like one of the kindest and most thoughtful guys in the black metal scene, making him someone I’d love to sit and have a beer with.

E (Watain)

Erik Danielsson (or E) of Watain should win the award for biggest lungs on the smallest vocalist. His vocals are powerful and his stage presence is mighty, and even though Watain is not the Erik Danielsson show, his charisma on stage makes it hard to tear your eyes from him. Multi-talented, he also plays the bass on all of Watain’s albums (though they hire a bassist to tour with them so that he can focus on doing what he does). I particularly love the way he incorporates his vocals into Watain’s songs; someone on the interwebs once described E’s vocals as “slithering” in and out of the music, and I think that perhaps that is the best way to describe it. E has a way of knowing exactly how to incorporate the lyrics into the song, and that combined with the sheer emotion he exudes makes him a formidable force.

[The first verse of this one is a good example of the “slithering” I mentioned]

Garm (Ulver, Arcturus, Borknagar)

Garm is another of those talented vocalists who has as lovely a singing voice as he has a scream. I love watching videos of Arcturus live and seeing Vortex sing the songs that Garm recorded with the band, because it becomes very clear in such instances what very different vocalists they are, though they have been in many of the same bands. Garm’s voice is a lot lower than Vortex’s, for instance, and he is much more comfortable with screaming and growling. Ulver’s early black metal albums are some of the most influential in the genre, also, and their later work, while often wildly experimental, is never not good.

[One of my all time favorite songs]

Abbath (Immortal, I)

Abbath may have the most instantly recognizable voice in black metal. His grim and frostbitten croak was what originally lured me into the subgenre. Like Dagon from Inquisition, Abbath’s vocals are more of a croak than the shrieks that tend to define the genre, and even when he sings passages (like in “All Shall Fall”), his voice is raw and more raspy than clear. Abbath has often been said to sound like Popeye, and this mixture of seriousness with good-natured humor is one of the main reasons perhaps for Immortal’s continuous success.

Gaahl (Trelldom, God Seed, Gorgoroth)

Gaahl and King ov Hell’s less than amicable split with Gorgoroth left a lot of fans feeling hurt and confused and understandably resentful, but regardless of how you feel about the Gorgoroth incident, you have to admit that Gaahl does some great vocals. His voice sounds almost violent (is the only way I can think of to describe it), and certainly inhuman. With just the right amount of shriek, Gaahl is able to keep in line with the traditional vocals while still maintaining a unique sound. The result is something really quite nightmarish. His band Trelldom is also quite good, and unfortunately often overlooked. Sorry kids, Gaahl is my favorite Gorgoroth vocalist, yes, even more than Pest, whose voice I can only stand when the recording doesn’t sound like it was done on a tape recorder in someone’s bathroom.

[I didn’t tag this as NSFW, so you can watch the video on your own time]

***

In short, I think metal vocalists are still relevant. At length… everything I just typed. So what do you all think? Do you think that vocalists are important to the genre of metal? Who are some of your favorite black metal vocalists?

Stay tuned, I’ll be covering Melechesh before I go to see them on Friday (oh my gosh. So excited. What a show, and Melechesh and Inquisition are the OPENERS).

Stay kvlt.

-Hagalaz