Archive for gothic metal

A Playlist for the Blood Countess

Posted in birthdays, black metal, elizabeth bathory, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2016 by blackmetallurgy

Erzebet, or Elizabeth, Bathory was born August 7th, 1560 (HAPPY BIRTHDAY). While there’s no proof that she actually bathed in the blood of virgins, as those rumors weren’t circulated until after her death, she definitely murdered a whole crapton of young women. There are disagreements as to how many, however; though the official body count seems to be 80, one serving girl claimed that Bathory murdered up to 650. The Countess managed to escape trial due to the shame it would bring to her very influential family, but she was nevertheless imprisoned and sealed up in a castle in Hungary. (I took most of this from Wikipedia.)

Elizabeth Bathory is also one of the patron saints of heavy metal, as her story is beset with imagery of bathing in blood, eternal youth, vampirism, possible links to the Devil, you know, pretty much everything you could want in a gothic sensational tale. So here’s a playlist I threw together of a bunch of songs relating to Countess Bathory, either directly or through blood-bathing references, name-dropping, or other indirect means.

Tormentor – Elizabeth Bathory

[Let’s start this off with a band from the Countess’ native Hungary, shall we?]

Sunn O))) – Bathory Erzebet

 

Ghost – Elizabeth

 

Electric Wizard – Torquemada 71

[This one is more about Torquemada, of course, but the Countess does get name-dropped.]
Venom – Countess Bathory

 

Evile – Bathe in Blood

[Some more general blood-bathing and murder.]

Candlemass – The Bleeding Baroness

 

X-Japan – Rose of Pain

[I swear one of these days I’m going to do a post entirely about X-Japan and how amazing they are. I had forgotten all about this song, and it’s great, just like everything else this band ever did.]

Bathory – Woman of Dark Desires

[No playlist for Elizabeth Bathory is complete without Bathory, of course.]

Cradle of Filth – Cruelty and the Beast

[…And then there was that time when Cradle of Filth made an entire album about her.]

***

I’ll be back soon with a review of Ghost and Macabre, and a big ol’ post about how much I love Shining, since they’ve been around for 20 years now and I get to see them in a couple of weeks.

Until then.

-H 

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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

Band Spotlight: Shape of Despair [Funeral Doom] (Finland)

Posted in band spotlight, doom, featured artist, finland, genre troubles, underground with tags , , , , , , on February 23, 2013 by blackmetallurgy

So I know I just did a doom metal one of these, but I’ve been intending to write up a special on Shape of Despair for a while now. I first learned of Shape of Despair last year, when Jamie picked up their album Angels of Distress at the Underground Rock Shop in Newton, IA (which I am told recently moved to Des Moines).

Quite simply, Shape of Despair writes the most heart-achingly depressing stuff I have ever heard. (And I listen to DSBM regularly).

[Complete with an image of a young woman crying on a rock]

Ahem. Anyway, Shape of Despair started off as Raven in 1995, founded by guitarist and keyboardist Jarno Salomaa and bassist/guitarist Tomi Ullgrén; they changed their name to their current moniker in 1998. Salomaa is the mastermind behind the band in terms of musical direction- a direction of which no one seems to be much sure. There is much debate as to what kind of music Shape of Despair is; it’s clearly metal, it’s clearly depressing, but it’s clearly not DSBM. It waffles, I think, around on the edges of gothic and funeral doom, although it does some strange things sometimes that don’t seem to fit in either category. For the sake of clarity, I’ll refer to it as funeral doom; it has that stately feel I associate with the genre.

[Shape of Despair’s early work under the moniker Raven has been released on a CD called “The Eerie Sampler.” This is not that; it’s the first track from their first album, which is pretty much the earliest thing I could find on YouTube]

Shape of Despair seems to have two vocalists at any one time. Vocalist Natalie Koskinen joined the band in 1998, just as they were becoming Shape of Despair, and has been a steady member of the band since. The male vocalists, however, have been less steady, changing  up every album or so. Despite this fact and some rotation in the drummer’s seat, Shape of Despair has had a remarkably steady line up for an extreme metal band.

[You can hear both vocalists here. N. Koskinen’s vocals are incredibly haunting]

Encyclopedia Metallum describes Shape of Despair’s lyrical content as concerning “misery, pain, and loneliness,” which I would say is a pretty accurate description. As I mentioned earlier, this is some of the most depressing music I have ever heard. It’s lovely in its dreariness, but it isn’t something I would recommend if you’re struggling with depression perhaps. Lovely, though, for some late afternoon Void-gazing.

[My god that is wretched]

Unlike a lot of bands, Shape of Despair did not release any demos or EPs before their first album, Shades Of… This is probably because the band operated under the name Raven for the first couple of years, and there was a couple of Raven demos that later became the CD referenced above (as well as an unofficial demo). Instead, the band’s compilation came out in 2005. After that they laid low for quite a while, releasing the Written In My Scars EP in 2010 and a 2011 split with Before the Rain, a Portuguese doom band. They don’t seem to have done much recording since, although they are playing Huntfest in Tallinn soon (with Metsatoll and Finntroll, haha, what a contrast!) and have recently re-released their first two albums on vinyl.

[See what I mean? You think you’ve got these guys figured out, and then they do something different. That beat in the beginning is faster than normal]

[Here’s another one off Illusion’s Play. I love the beginning, and once again the tempo has picked up a bit. This is positively joyful for them]

Although the theme is often the same- slow to mid-tempo, stately, eerie, somber doom- you can hear the variation in the band’s approach in the samples I’ve posted here. It’s good to know that they are still together, and hopefully we will get some new music from them soon. As always, if you like what you’ve heard here, support the band. Shape of Despair is the perfect soundtrack for post-Valentine’s Day (ha) and bleak winters.

[Shape of Despair’s cover of Lycia’s “Estrella,” from their 2011 split with Before the Rain]

[I can’t even imagine what it would be like to actually see them live. This is crazy]

-Hagalaz