Archive for the Reviews Category

Review: Abbath – S/T

Posted in 2016, black metal, Reviews, true norwegian black metal, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on April 8, 2016 by blackmetallurgy

As a longtime Immortal geek, I was, of course, saddened to hear that the band broke up. However, I was also just as excited to hear that Abbath was moving forward with his own work, and that means, of course, more of as-close-to-Immortal-as-we’re-gonna-get-anymore. I ordered my copy of the self-titled album through Amazon (since my beloved local metal shop is no more), and bitched extensively about the fact that I had to pay $20 for it. Of course, that was before it showed up in the post and I realized that it was the Super Special Awesome Edition with a whole lot of added swag, which left me deeply pleased and decidedly less bitchy.

Of course, with Abbath such a huge part of Immortal, the album sounds a lot like Immortal. “Ocean of Winds” in particular reminds me of Sons of Northern Darkness era Immortal. Likewise, “Endless” begins indicative of the blistering blast-beats and shredding that encapsulated the band’s early catalog, but also incorporates soaring sections that act as a logical extension of the sounds on All Shall Fall. Alternatively, I find hints of I’s more rock-driven catalog in Abbath as well.

This is not to say, however, that Abbath is not taking this solo project in its own direction. Abbath absolutely features completely new elements, both fun and refreshing. “Winterbane,” for instance, uses a syncopated beat that is new for this brand of traditional black metal and brings out the bass some in the mix. Likewise, “Ashes of the Damned” makes use of horns, adding an unexpected pop to chorus sections.

Of course there are bonuses as well— the album features a cover of Judas Priest’s “Riding on the Wind,” which gives you the super fun experience of hearing Abbath do Judas Priest vocals (no, he doesn’t sing them, you sillies, but it’s still amusing in the way that only Abbath is). We also get a re-recording of “Nebular Ravens Winter,” which you know is the reason that half of you bought this album in the first place. It, predictably, leaves nothing to be desired.

I was also really impressed with Creature’s drumming on this album- in times (particularly on “Ashes of the Damned”), it almost reminds me of Proscriptor McGovern’s drumming for Absu. We also get King resurfacing, who worked with Abbath on the I project. I’ve always really liked his bass playing, as well as his songwriting (though it looks as though Abbath was responsible for all of the songwriting on this particular album).

The special edition package that I accidentally (though happily) purchased came with a lot of cool features, including a wristband, a pin, a patch, and a nice collector’s box.

20160407_083926[1]

The box is also huge. The Martian is there for comparison.

20160407_151854[1]

\m/

Overall, call me super impressed. You get Immortal-esque stuff that is nevertheless interesting and forward-thinking, and if you get the box set you get lots of really cool stuff, too.

H’s favorite tracks: 
Winterbane
Ocean of Wounds
Fenrir Hunts
Nebular Ravens Winter (duh)

***

Next update will be earlier rather than later, because I just saw Abbath live last night and HOLY CRAP. Also, that’s why this update is not coming to you on a Thursday.

-Hagalaz

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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

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

Hail Spirit Noir and Patria Reviews

Posted in burning fist, Reviews on June 19, 2014 by blackmetallurgy

I have two more reviews up at Burning Fist! Hail Spirit Noir’s Oi Magoi and Patria’s Individualism! I also just put the finishing touches on a review of the new Mayhem… They will get that one, which I will of course link to, but I’ll do the new Triptykon over here.

I’m going to be trying to do a few reviews of big new albums that are coming out this year, as well as some of our more local bands in the Cities that are starting to make quite a name for themselves. Several of our bands have new releases, and I want to make sure and get those in there too as well as the more well-known stuff (and the new-new stuff, like Domains).

Ave.

Review: Teitanblood- Death

Posted in 2014, black metal, blackened death metal, death metal, Reviews, satan, spain, underground with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2014 by blackmetallurgy

It’s no surprise, I’m sure, that I was pretty much bouncing off the walls in anticipation of the new Teitanblood album. I have liked them ever since I stumbled across them… somewhere. I think it may have been the fact that they are on Noevdia, a label that has yet to let me down. I was intrigued to see what this one would sound like, since Seven Chalices is quite unlike anything else I’ve ever heard, and I positively loved Woven Black Arteries (I gave it a spot on my best of list in 2012. And it only has two tracks!).
Needless to say, probably, I wasn’t disappointed. I’m not making any official claims yet because there have been some other stunning albums come out this year already (looking at you, Mr. Warrior), but Death truly might be my favorite album of the year so far. Death is an incredible onslaught of gnarly, blackened, churning noise. It reminds me much more of Teitanblood’s later stuff like Woven Black Arteries and Purging Tongues than Seven Chalices, and I actually like that better (note, I like Seven Chalices, it’s just that it’s one of those I’m still trying to wrap my head around. It is still pretty baffling to me, and I do not think that is a bad thing). The first track, “Anteinfierno,” sets the stage for this blistering masterpiece, providing a near five minutes of thundering chaos.

Although Teitanblood is as chaotic and as noisy as always, Death nevertheless incorporates a substantial amount of structure. For all its unrestrained clamor, it nevertheless periodically shifts back to a riff that you can bang your head to for a bit, allowing for you to become a little grounded before being flung back into the madness. “Sleeping Throats of the Antichrist,” one of my favorite tracks on the album, showcases this really well. The riff at 9:15 is a good example of this returning to some kind of sane footing in an otherwise slippery song. It also provides a good example of one of my favorite parts of Death, which is the mixing.

Teitanblood has done… something… with the mix on this album. I don’t know what it is, entirely, but the low end occasionally drops out and sounds like it was recorded in some kind of chasm. The aforementioned riff is a prime example of this, and it’s always a puzzling and welcome addition when those parts drop in. “Cadaver Synod” also utilizes this type of mixing. Another cool aspect of the production on Death is the ambient noise that constantly permeates the album. While the production on Death is certainly not as low fi as that on Seven Chalices, it retains a noisy, white noise background that makes it feel as though there is constant movement. Between the dull roar in the background and the squeals of the guitars, it’s difficult to tell if Death has as many chanted vocals as I think I hear, or if that’s all just a part of the cacophony. Considering that I love my noisy black metal, I think that is awesome.

Perhaps the only time that the roar ceases is in the final track, appropriately titled “Silence of the Great Martyrs.” In typical bewildering fashion, the track has a lengthy pause halfway through, followed by eerie guitar noise, chimes, and chants that take you through to the records end. This makes for an especially fun experience if you are, say, listening to the album in your car, and you end with chimes and begin again with “Anteinfierno,” which is the equivalent of getting your face smashed with a brick in a good way.

Because I’m a dweeb, I bought Death on both CD and vinyl, and it sounds lovely on both. In regards to the vinyl, the aforementioned low-end parts sound reedier and feel like they almost have a buzz to them. Also, the sound on the vinyl is even fuller than on the CD, inasmuch as that is possible (really, the production on this thing is insane. I love it).

I just included pictures of the vinyl because it's so much bigger.

I just included pictures of the vinyl because it’s so much bigger. The CD has exactly the same stuff.

And it's a double LP, because of course it is. Three of the tracks clock in at well over 10 minutes.

And it’s a double LP, because of course it is. Three of the tracks clock in at well over 10 minutes.

One thing that was a letdown for me as far as Death is concerned is the album art. Having been completely spoiled by all the awesome artwork on Seven Chalices, I was expecting a like amount of creepy, Satanic sketches in the new album. There’s very little to the liner notes at all, however, other than the lyrics and some arcane symbols. That, and the picture of the band, which reminds you that, yes, that is two dudes making all that racket, just in case you forgot.

This is all we get.

This is what we get.

The gentlemen responsible.

The gentlemen responsible.

Unfortunately, none of this stuff this time around.

Unfortunately, none of this stuff this time around.

When I get a new album, I usually leave it in my car stereo for about a week until I switch it up again. Death sat in my car for 2.5 weeks when I first got it, and I still am unable to get enough of it. One of the reasons why I love my Noevdia bands so freaking much is that they are so internally complicated. Every single time I listen to Death I hear something new- it’s a noisy treasure trove of chaos, and just like the esoteric texts Teitanblood emulates, Death is going to require some serious study to truly grasp its secrets. 5/5 Lucifer sigils from me.

Hagalaz’ Favorite Tracks: Oh, I dunno. Pretty much ALL OF IT.

Ave. H.

Iskald’s Nedom og Nord and Kampfar’s Djevelmakt at Burning Fist

Posted in black metal, blackened folk, blackened thrash, burning fist, norway, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on April 15, 2014 by blackmetallurgy

Hi all,

My review of the new Iskald album, Nedom og Nord, is up at Burning Fist. I just submitted a review for Folge Dem Wind’s new one as well, which you will hear me gush about on here in a few days.

Likewise, here is the link for my review of the new Kampfar, Djevelmakt.

Ave.

-Hagalaz