Archive for underground

Concert: Behexen/Kommandant/Akashah (7/5, Beat Kitchen, Chicago)

Posted in black metal, black metal ist krieg, chicago, concerts, finland, orthodox black metal, underground, united states, USBM, war metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2014 by blackmetallurgy

When I heard Behexen and Sargeist were playing back to back shows in Chicago, I knew that I had to go regardless of how many hippies I had to fight or goats I had to sacrifice to get there. I’ve loved Behexen ever since I went on a quest a couple of years ago to find out just who these dudes were that I kept seeing everywhere, and J’s love of Sargeist is quite infectious. The fact that the shows coincided perfectly with A’s birthday just added to the multitudinous list of reasons that we absolutely had to go.

The first night was Behexen, and the first opener was a band called Akashah from Illinois. Their name made me think of Queen of the Damned, which I think was one of Anne Rice’s better works, so that made me happy from a nerdy perspective. I enjoyed their set- although it appears on Encyclopedia Metallum that Akashah is a one man project, the live set of course featured a full band. Formerly a member of the N.S.B.M. group the Pagan Front, there was no hint of Akashah’s political leanings anywhere in their set. While I really loved the drums, my only complaint was that the guitars were often not in tune with each other. As a musician, I know that this could be accounted for by any number of variables (the weather, for example, which alternated all weekend between eerily pleasant for July and torrential downpour), but it was simply a minor hiccup in an otherwise excellent performance.

Next up was Kommandant, who I have been anxiously awaiting seeing live again since I saw them play a set plagued by technical difficulties at Maryland Death Fest last year. Just as last time, the music was fantastic; I love the sheer amount of percussion Kommandant uses, and the snare drums are a nice touch to the military-esque presentation. Props to the snare drummer stage left who lost a drumstick in the last song and still managed to make it work without drawing unwanted attention to himself. Also, Kommandant’s vocalist has added a new piece to his stage costume- a crown of thorns that sits right at his eye level. Let me tell you, I have seen many, many black metal shows at this point in my life, and his stage get-up was the creepiest thing I have ever seen. Someone has been watching Hellraiser…

Last but certainly not least was Behexen. I was thrilled to death to note that the young lady who sold me my shirt at the merch table was playing with the band- she absolutely killed on the bass, and finger- picked everything. I ended up right in front of Hoath Torog during this set, and I’m pretty sure he didn’t blink the entire time. It was an intense performance, and I’m really grateful that I got to see it.

Behexen played a number of songs from throughout their career, with a little added focus on the new album, Nightside Emanations, as will happen with tours in support of new albums. Some of the setlist included “Death’s Black Light” and “In the Temple of the Silent Curses,” from the new album, as well as older favorites like “By the Blessing of Satan” and “My Soul for His Glory.” An enthusiastic fan in the crowd demanded to no avail to hear “Circle Me,” a song that I think a lot of us were hoping for as I think it’d be super cool live. I’m not complaining, however; I saw Behexen, and I never thought that would happen. The set clocked in at about 45 minutes of raging hell.

[Some helpful person uploaded the whole set from Martyrdoom to YouTube. Enjoy!]

In terms of souvenirs from the show, I got to take away a t-shirt from the merch table (the last one! In a girlie large, nonetheless) and some more autographs. As I mentioned earlier, the band’s touring bassist was working merch, and she was kind enough to let me try on the shirt over my clothes to make sure it fit before I bought it (never can tell with those girlie sizes). Naturally, then, when it came time for me to try to get my record signed, I went to her to ask if they would sign it.

I have a real knack for grabbing "the last one"

I have a real knack for grabbing “the last one.” Please ignore the cat hair

Hoath Torog signed my record and was really nice- it was a bit awkward that I didn’t have a pen. In the craziness that surrounded the morning that A and I left the Cities, I forgot to grab one of my silver Sharpies. Fortunately, the bartender had a pen I could borrow. Wraath also signed my record, although he seemed much less thrilled about it (two years in Minnesota, and I still haven’t figured out how to read Scandinavians).

Hoath Torog's autograph. Photo taken with help from The Cat

Hoath Torog’s autograph. Photo taken with help from The Cat

Wraath's autograph

Wraath’s autograph

A and I also grabbed some Kommandant merch. A ended up snagging a different shirt than mine (the new one, I believe, with the guns on the back), and even though that had an awesome red shirt, I opted for the old school one. I just love the gas masks. I was a rivet head back in highschool, and old habits die hard.

For the record, gas masks are uncomfortably tight. But I suppose you'd want them to be

For the record, gas masks are uncomfortably tight. But I suppose you’d want them to be

The bullets sold me

The bullets sold me (well. That’s not blurry at all.)

We also picked up Kommandant patches, and I grabbed a Sargeist patch as well. I’m really glad I did, too, as Sargeist didn’t have any merch available the next night.

More patches!

More patches!

It was an incredible evening full of a wide variety of terror. I got to see Kommandant, a Midwestern black metal band that I love, learned of Akashah’s work, and watched Behexen belch forth some brimstone. We retired to the hotel exhausted, and then I promptly started to not sleep well at all. Even more was in store, however, for the next night!

Ave,
Hagalaz

**I plan on making a post with some pics from the shows, but I need to edit them some. I left my flash off so as to not be That Guy, and they’re a little dark.

Advertisements

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

 

Update: Canadian Venues

Posted in 2013, 2014, canada, tour dates, underground with tags , , , on June 27, 2014 by blackmetallurgy

Last year I posted this about how small venues in Canada were going to charge an exorbitant tour tax for international bands and musicians, putting a real dent in the ability of low and mid-tier bands (and even top-tier metal bands a lot of times) to tour there. Well, I just got an email regarding that particular petition, and the tour tax is not going to go into effect. So score for underground music, and score for live music in general!

-Hagalaz

Fun Facts to Know and Share (Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult Edition)

Posted in black metal, black metal history, books, czech republic, finland, mayhem, norway, underground, united states with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2014 by blackmetallurgy

So I have been reading Dayal Patterson’s Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult when I have downtime, which unfortunately is not often enough. It’s a fantastic book for a number of reasons, which I will go into when I do a review of it, which will happen when I’ve finished it. One of it’s greatest features, however, is how many bands it covers that don’t get talked about in these huge black metal compendiums (Gehenna, Lifelover, Graveland, and Von, to name a few). While I’m only about a quarter of the way through the book, I have already learned several things that I did not know before about bands that I either have come to realize I know very little about, or that I thought I knew everything about. For instance:

1) When Tom G. Warrior of Celtic Frost was growing up, his mother was a diamond smuggler and would leave him for weeks at a time when he was a small child. She later had a complete breakdown, and little Tom had to live in filth and destitution in a house with over 90 cats. There was no other family around for him to go to, and everyone in the town knew about his circumstances and did nothing. This living hell created the anger that fueled Hellhammer, and is a big part of why Tom G. Warrior doesn’t like to talk about his early band (36-37).

2) Von was sort of more of a legend than a real band, as they were originally only around for about five years. They never had any real output during that time; their demo stuff was later leaked, and they had no idea they were huge celebrities in the underground. They have like three albums called Satanic Blood (113-115).

3) Beherit is from Lapland. They win the award for trvest place to live (117). Also, Nuklear Holocausto, Beherit’s vocalist, is really into Buddhism and other Eastern philosophies (121).

4) Master’s Hammer inverted an entire church on the front of their Finished demo (101)! Also, the title of their latest album, Vracejte konve na misto, was taken from a sign in a Czech graveyard and means “put watering cans back in their place.” Which means that J’s jokes about the album being about gardening are not entirely off the mark (106).

5) And last, but certainly not least, the thing that I, the fangirl who believed that she knew just about everything there is to know about Mayhem, learned is: Necrobutcher was responsible for the vocals on Pure Fucking Armageddon, not Euronymous (132). (Blown. Away. Bigger geeks than me have always thought it was Euronymous.)

***

That’s what I have for now. I’m incredibly excited to keep reading this book, and I will write a full review once I’ve done with it. In the meantime, I think it’s time to change up my blog tagline.

Ave.

-Hagalaz

Fundraiser for a Friend

Posted in death metal, puerto rico, underground, united states with tags , , , , , on February 9, 2014 by blackmetallurgy

Hi guys,

I told my friend I would spread the word and share this link. He is an amazing bassist and has been working on some really cool and original music for years that he is trying to record. Unfortunately, he doesn’t quite have the funds currently, which is why he is fundraising hoping to get some help. Feel free to check Voice of the Vortex out on ReverbNation and Facebook, and if you like what you hear, please consider throwing a couple of bucks their way.

Thanks!

-H

Hagalaz’ Favorite Black Metal Releases of 2013

Posted in black metal, blackgaze, canada, colombia, DSBM, france, musings, norway, sweden, underground, united states, USBM with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 1, 2014 by blackmetallurgy

In 2012, I felt like the overwhelming theme among the best black metal releases were the ones that took big risks- bands like Marduk and Deathspell Omega doing really interesting experimental stuff. This year, for me at least, the heavy hitters were bands that have traditionally been heavy hitters; the only difference is, in many cases, these are comeback albums. Satyricon, Arckanum, and Rotting Christ all put out albums that are, in my opinion, superior the their other recent releases. I decided to keep it to  ten this year- Horna and Woe were among those I cut, and I haven’t gotten to spend enough time with the new Sadgiqacea album, otherwise I’d probably have to revise again.

So without further ado:

Gehenna- Unravel

Gehenna’s mid-tempo dissonance has really peaked in this new album. Unravel is a dirge-like, doomy album, perfect for a funeral or a rainy day. I really like the influences I hear in this one- namely, French black metal and funeral doom- and the way that Gehenna has made them their own.

Satyricon- Satyricon

I didn’t expect much from the new Satyricon. The Age of Nero was okay, and I am one of the few people, I think, who genuinely appreciates Now, Diabolical. Still, Satyricon’s sound has been too polished for me lately, and even though the production is still a little *too* good on this new one, they’ve got their bite back for sure. There are some lovely black metal riffs in there, the ballad is not bad (seriously. What is it with ballads? So far those that have done it have done it well, but I hope this doesn’t become too much of a thing), and holy crap Frost’s drumming. That’s all I have to say about that.

Watain- The Wild Hunt

I was seriously doubting whether Watain would ever be able to surpass The Waters of Ain, and for me, I still don’t think they have. Nevertheless, the Swedes have proven their mettle with The Wild Hunt, experimenting with ballads and clean vocals and sticking it to those people who think they are simply Dissection clones.

Rotting Christ- Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy (Do What Thou Wilt) [No, I would not like to take a stab at it in Greek]

The new Rotting Christ was one of the first albums that I listened to this year, and I really wasn’t crazy about it. But then, a couple of months ago, I threw it on so I could have something good to work out to (Rotting Christ is great, I find, for inspiring one’s sit-ups), and all of a sudden it clicked. I haven’t been able to get enough of it since.

Deafheaven- Sunbather

Yup. I’m putting Deafheaven on my list. Sorry I’m not sorry, Trve Kvltists. Sunbather is a phenomenal album; I mean, Irresistible reminds me of Placebo, even (yes, the pop band. The awesome pop band).  The commentary that this album makes on American materialism is just proof that USBM never ceases to find interesting new ways to address darkness.

Summoning- Old Morning’s Dawn

Old Morning’s Dawn pretty much knocked my socks clean off when I heard it. This album is one of those that you should keep on reserve to put on when your unbeliever friends tell you black metal is just noise. Beautiful.

Arckanum- Fenris Kindir

Arckanum’s new album, Fenris Kindir, serves as a reminder of all the reasons why Arckanum is fantastic. Tungls Tjúgari is a churning, atmospheric nightmare, and Hamrami’s gorgeous soundscape evokes the mountains and forests in the way that only Shamaatae can pull off. (Listening to it right now reminds me that I need to spend more time in the woods. Wish it wasn’t so freaking cold out.)

Gris- À L’Âme Enflammée, L’Äme Constellée

Quebeçois DSBM masters Gris have graced us with a brilliant and lovely new album in the form of a 2 disc set (!!!!). In case you didn’t hear that right, that’s two whole discs of atmospheric, depressive loveliness. My brain doesn’t really know how to comprehend how cool that is, but I’m doing my best.

Inquisition- Obscure Verses For The Multiverse

Although I am still mourning the falling out between Antichrist Kramer and Inquisition that resulted in what I find to be some pretty silly cover art, Obscure Verses is an incredible album. Good old fashioned Inquisition mixed with some really cool effects with the guitar.

And, last but not least, my favorite black metal album of 2013, the album so nice, I bought it twice….

Aosoth- IV: An Arrow In Heart

Anyone who read my review of Aosoth’s newest back in June has the slightest inkling of just how crushingly hard-hitting this album was for me. As I was reflecting on my top ten again today, I spent some time listening to it again, and it’s still just as fraught with tension and cold as the first time I heard it. Brilliant. (And yes, I really did buy it twice. CD and double LP.)

***

Well, fellow kvltists, there you have it. My best of in 2013. I’m coming up with a not-just-black-metal list for Burning Fist, which is… difficult, to say the least, but I am working on it. And I’ll try to get caught up on the reviews, because I’m sure there are some people who haven’t bought the new Woe yet who wonder if it’s worth their buck (but not Inquisition. Everyone’s already got that one. Or they should. If you don’t, you should hand over your spiked gauntlets, because you’re not trve). Have a lovely new year, and I will see you soon, and often.

-Hagalaz

Review: Vollmond- Rituals of Conquest

Posted in black metal, blackened doom, concerts, doom, italy, underground with tags , , , , , , on November 10, 2013 by blackmetallurgy

Although I’m fairly new to the concept, space and black metal go brilliantly together. Someone posted this link on reddit the other day, which kind of made my day, and then I got my hands on the new Vollmond release, and it’s as spectacular as the cosmos in black metal form gets.

Vollmond, which is German for “full moon,” is an Italian band whose doomy black metal music centers largely on occultism and the cosmos. And that is the feel that I get from their newest album, Rituals of Conquest. This beautiful sophomore release truly is perfect stargazing music.

The album begins with Dawn of the Limitless Fire, a melodic and soaring piece that reminds me a lot of Blut Aus Nord’s Memoria Vetusta: A Dialogue With The Stars only with good drums (it’s a lovely album. One of my favorites. And the electronic drums on it are abysmal). After this track, the album takes a noticeably dark turn with Mournful Ascension. This track is a 10:44 long epic with an amazing guitar solo beginning at 4:41. Although it’s the longest track on the album it never gets stale, shifting through its various components in a fluid manner.

[Perfect for summer nights under the stars]

The album also features a couple of instrumentals, which is awesome, especially considering Vollmond’s obvious knack for soundscapes. Perhaps the oddest track on the album is the title track, which utilizes spoken vocals for most of the song. This track also feels to me like it has a DSBM feel to it, and the mixture of slow/fast with clean/death vocals really makes for a good balance.

[LOVE this one]

Rituals of Conquest, like a lot of third-wave black metal albums, utilizes lots of broken chords to get a starry, twinkling feel. Bell-toned guitars also lend the music a chime-like affect. However, Vollmond also throws in some traditional black metal elements as well, like tremolo picking and the occasional dissonant tri-tone. The affect is an innovative mix of old and new that still manages to sound pretty while remaining very dark and powerful.

The album artwork for Rituals of Conquest it fitting for the music itself; stars and constellations adorn the CD and liner notes.

Front cover.

Front cover.

Stars! Pretty sure I've seen some of these guys at night in Oklahoma.

Stars! Pretty sure I’ve seen some of these guys at night in Oklahoma.

The CD itself also showcases several constellations.

 Rituals of Conquest is a great little album, eerie and at times downright lovely. Try to find a copy of it if you can; you won’t regret it.

5/5

Hagalaz’ Favorite Tracks
Dawn of the Limitless Fire
Engravings
Death Manifestation

**Very special thanks to Ars Magna Recordings for your support and for giving me the opportunity to review some things for you.