Archive for tormentor

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 

Hagalaz’ Favorite Black Metal Covers

Posted in black metal, covers, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2016 by blackmetallurgy

So I’ve been planning on doing a thing on black metal cover songs for a long time but never got around to it, and by this point I’m sure there are some on my original mental list that have slipped my mind. But here is at least part one (there’s no Bathory on here, for starters. Mainly because I’d have done Emperor’s cover of A Fine Day To Die but I wanted to do the Mercyful Fate cover).

My personal favorite covers tend to be those in which a band puts their own spin on the original, incorporating new sounds into an old song, so that’s what I’ve tried to stick with here. And so without further ado, some personal favorite black metal covers of mine in random order!

Emperor – Gypsy (Mercyful Fate cover)

I remember reading in The Slayer Mag Diaries that Metalion didn’t like this cover, I think because of what Emperor did with the keyboards. But the added keyboards give the song that symphonic and majestic feel that is distinctly Emperor, laid over the straightforward, traditional metal of Mercyful Fate, and personally, I think that’s what makes it fantastic. Well, that and Ihsahn singing falsetto.

 

Watain – Watain (VON cover)

HERE IS. WHERE HE KILLS. Watain’s cover of the song from which they took their name is great fun, not least of all because Von sounds absolutely nothing like Watain has ever sounded a day in their lives. It’s always a good time to hear a band play something completely out of their ordinary style, and I’m less likely to get all whimsical and teary-eyed like I do when Watain covers Dissection.

 

Shining – I Nattens Timma (Landberk cover)

By all means, if you do not know Landberk’s original of I nattens timma, you ought to get out there and listen to it. It is, I think, actually creepier than Shining’s cover, with a more music-box feel to it and creepy flutes. However much I really like the original, though, I absolutely adore Shining’s version, which is how I fell in love with Niklas Kvarforth’s clean singing voice.

 

Dissection – Elisabeth Bathory (Tormentor cover)

There is literally nothing about Dissection covering Tormentor that isn’t cool. Of course, Jon Nödtveidt will never sound like Attila in the opening voice over, and Dissection’s approach to the song is, unsurprisingly, not as atmospheric or low-fi as the original. But rest assured, they’ve certainly Swedish-ized it, and only in the best possible way.

 

Thorns – Cosmic Keys to My Creations and Times (Emperor cover)

Thorns’ cover of Emperor’s Cosmic Keys is totally weird, and completely wonderful. It’s all the Emperor riffs you love, but slowed down to doom speeds and with a spoken-word voice over rather than the shrieks of the original. Slow-building and immensely heavy with a steady, almost tribal-sounding drum beat in the background, Thorns’ creepy, apocalyptic-feeling approach to the track is proof of how lucky we are that Samoth and Snorre were kicking around in the same prison for a bit.

 

Agalloch – Kneel to the Cross (Sol Invictus cover)

I remember seeing Agalloch play this live and being shell-shocked, because at the time I hadn’t heard the original, but I had studied medieval lyric poetry, and all I could think of was this. Anyway. That’s weird. Both versions are fantastic, of course, but it’s interesting how Agalloch’s blackened version seeps the hopefulness out of the original.

 

Melechesh – Babylon Fell (Celtic Frost cover)

Melechesh’s cover of Babylon Fell adds a Mediterranean flair to Celtic Frost’s blistering original. The drums in particular are really cool on this track, with the syncopated drumbeat shifting slightly away from the original. Likewise, they use several different vocal techniques, making for some interesting layering (I am, unsurprisingly partial to the shrieks). And of course, there’s some sitar in there as well, lending this cover an Eastern feel that complements the title and lyrics.

 

Dimmu Borgir – Burn in Hell (Twisted Sister cover)

Okay, so this is once again me posting Dimmu post-them being acceptable to a lot of black metal people, but once again, I don’t care. They covered Twisted Sister, and Burn in Hell at that, and it’s fun as shit, and ICS Vortex is as on par here as he ever is.

 

Limbonic Art – De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (Mayhem cover)

Limbonic Art’s symphonic take on De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is super cool- the vocals are inspired by Attila’s while still having an original flair to them, and the added keyboards give the song an eerie, almost gothic effect, complementing the original beautifully while still maintaining its own sound.

 

Celtic Frost – In the Chapel, In the Moonlight (Dean Martin cover)

I didn’t realize that this song was a cover until just recently. Now that I realize that it’s not only a cover, but a Dean Martin song, I find that not only awesome but also hilarious. This can also go into the list of Totally Metal Songs to Play at Your Wedding, which is now also going to be a list because I just thought of it. Celtic Frost also definitely put their own spin on this one, considering that it, uh, does not sound like Dean Martin.

 

So there you go! That’s a start of a list, at least, and probably needs more added to it, so don’t be surprised if there’s a part two lurking in the future. I’m working up a review of the Metal Threat Fest Warm-Up Show with Destroyer 666 (!) as well as some other things, but the posts might be more sporadic over the next couple of weeks while I finish up the summer session of school.

Until then,

H

 

 

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