Midnight Odyssey – Shards of Silver Fade (Review)

Midnight OdysseyMidnight Odyssey is an Australian one-man Black Metal band and this is his second album.

Well, what an epic release this is. Eight tracks, lasting a colossal 143 minutes. Shards of Silver Fade demands a big investment of your time. Is it worth it? You’re damn right it is.

Midnight Odyssey has a Black Metal base that has been expanded to include Ambient, Darkwave, Funeral Doom and Post-Black Metal, resulting in the weighty collection of tracks here.

In many ways it’s difficult to review a release such as this. It would be far better for you to just accept the fact that this is an album you need to get and go and get it. Once done, make a night-time trip to the top of some local hill or mountain, put on your headphones, gaze at the night sky and get lost in Midnight Odyssey’s transcendental, elemental, cosmic embrace.

In lieu of this, however, a darkened room will suffice for now; just zone out and concentrate on nothing but the music.

Anyway, if you have yet to hear them then my feeble prose will have to do. This is not a band to dip into for a quick fix of whatever you fancy, this is a band to pay attention to and take notice of.

These songs combine spacious Progressive Ambient/Doom with ancient Blackened moods that sound like they were old before metal was even invented. The combination of Darkwave, Doom and Black Metal is one that works incredibly well and sounds flawlessly delivered.

Grand orchestral passages sweep across the heavens and invoke feelings of loss and grandeur, frequently at the same time. This is highly emotive music but probably not in the way that you might think. Moving, is probably a better description. This is music that’s moving.

The vocals don’t let the side down either, with croaking Black Metal rasps sharing the stage with charismatic cleans that seem imbued with some form of long-lost wisdom.

An intriguing, ambitious and ultimately victorious merging of Burzum and Vinterriket; Shards of Silver Fade is easily up to the task of fitting in with such hallowed company.

If I haven’t made this clear by now, Shards of Silver Fade is a must listen. It’s a long one, of course, but well worth it. I suggest you start now.

Bhleg – Draumr Ást (Review)

BhlegBhleg are from Sweden and this is their début album of Atmospheric Black Metal.

This is underground and under-produced with the result that the music has a brittle quality to it that still somehow retains a strength – like shards of ice. The fragile guitar tone still manages to inflict lacerations with how sharp it is as the scything vocals scream out from behind this torrent of frostblades.

Theirs is a blend of the atmospheric and Blackly melodic. To cold for the more perky Melodic Black Metal tag, instead they go the path less travelled down a cold winter path, lonesome and desolate. Many others have gone this way over the years, of course, but Bhleg are content to not mix with any other travellers and instead keep to themselves, exploring the snowy landscapes.

Okay, okay; enough of the ice and the frost and the winter – you get the idea. Suffice to say that this is Black Metal that harkens back to an earlier time and an influence from bands of these earlier eras can be heard in their sound, Burzum for one.

The Black Metal is offset with more atmospheric forays into lighter territories and these parts help break up the release.

Screaming vocals are joined by cleaner approaches on occasion, adding another aspect to the delivery of the band’s message.  The Bhleg vocalist has a clear, powerful scream and the cleans are performed well.

An enjoyable album. The kind of album to just drift off with and become almost hypnotized by the droning Blackened riffs. Give Bhleg a spin and see if they can show you their frosted visions of a natural landscape.

Ius Talionis – Eleutheromania (Review)

Ius TalionisIus Talionis are from Germany and this is their first release. They play Black Metal.

Although this is actually a demo release the quality of both sound and content belies this.

This is underground Black Metal with a raw-in-a-good-way sound that has a warmth and approachability to it despite the icy aura that the riffs themselves exude. The bass deserves special mention as not only is it audible but also adds tangible atmosphere and depth to the proceedings.

The songs lack ostentation and are atavistic beasts drawn from the dawn of Black Metal and harken back to the days when the likes of Burzum and Darkthrone were just dark amalgamations of potentiality and burgeoning threat.

This is Old-School Black Metal viewed and produced through the prism of history and hindsight. As such it perfectly captures the raw essence of Black Metal without ever falling into the trap of complacency, pointless hero-worship or any number of pitfalls that might befall the common Black Metal band.

These songs have a good deal of honesty about them and each one is truly enjoyable as an exemplar of the Blackened art of mood, pace and malevolent tribute.

Eleutheromania is a very impressive début release. With 4 songs in 36 minutes it could have easily passed as a début album. The fact that they haven’t done this and we still have this future début to come is a very exciting prospect indeed.

Ius Talionis are a band to watch that’s for sure. If they can keep the quality levels up then I predict a great album from them at some point.

Tarnkappe – Tussen Hun En De Zon (Review)

TarnkappeTarnkappe are from the Netherlands and this is their début album.

As soon as it starts it makes an impression. The band have the classic-era Darkthrone/Burzum feel in spades and I can’t help but get a bit excited. It may be an old style but it’s a very welcome and enjoyable one.

Their cold-hearted Black Metal has a great sound that’s raw and organic whilst retaining a clarity and strength about it. Quite simply they sound fantastic.

The vocals are evil croaks that are genre-perfect and adequately portray the evil and disgust that’s spewed out. They also sound suitably demoniacally demented on occasion. It’s a flawless Old-School delivery that fits the music perfectly and the entire package is authentic and historically accurate.

Tarnkappe are their own masters though and are not simply Darkthrone clones. This is an album which has a darkness all of its own and the songs fill me with a deeply personal satisfaction in that special grim way that only Black Metal can.

Listening to this album is a real joy. The Blackened melodies and mid-paced icy rhythms have infected the pleasure centres of my brain and won’t stop.

It’s not new, it’s not perfect but it’s Old-School Black Metal through and through. If you still enjoy this style then you’ll enjoy Tarnkappe.

Forgotten Woods – The Curse of Mankind

Forgotten Woods

This exceptional Black Metal album was released in 1996; if you like your depressive/suicidal Black metal then I recommend you track it down and get it immediately.

Considered by many the forefathers of this particular sub-genre, (alongside Burzum of course), their sound is archetypal and much-copied.

The album is typically raw and unpolished, yet still well-recorded  enough, (relatively speaking), so that the songs shine, albeit in a murky, dank, grim kind of way!

This is the kind of album where you can easy drift off and become one with the repetitive guitars and the feeling they convey.  For this reason I find this album very satisfying and worthy of inclusion in anyone’s collection.

A must.

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