Rudra – Enemy of Duality (Review)

RudraRudra are a blackened extreme metal band from Singapore. This is their eighth album.

Despite being around for a very long time at this point, and despite having first heard of them an almost equally long time ago, this is my first actual encounter with Rudra and their so-called Vedic metal. Continue reading

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Agatus – The Eternalist (Review)

AgatusThis is the third album from this Greek black/heavy metal band.

Now this is an interesting release. 14 years after their second album, Agatus return with even more of a progressive/heavy metal approach to their music.

70s progressive rock and NWOBHM influences collide head-on with the black metal background of the group, making for an album that sounds little like any of their contemporaries.

The closest I can come to compare with other bands would be a crazy fusion of Rotting Christ, Vintersorg and Countess, all given a workover by NWOBHM and 70s progressive rock. or something. All I know is it’s infectious, addictive, individual and bloody good.

The black metal aspects Continue reading

Countess – Fires of Destiny (Review)

CountessThis is the fifteenth album from Countess, a black metal band from the Netherlands.

I enjoy Countess a lot. Both Sermons of the Infidel and Ancient Lies and Battle Cries have been featured on this site previously, and it’s with great pleasure that we now turn to this latest album.

With a slightly rougher sound this time around, these tracks Continue reading

Einherjer – Av Oss, For Oss (Review)

EinherjerEinherjer are from Norway and this is their sixth album. They play Viking-influenced Black Metal.

This is an album that has a lot of variety in it. We get melodic, almost martial Pagan-influenced interludes, scorching fury, rhythmic sections, colourful leads, mid-paced workouts, subtle keyboards, lots of interesting instrumentation and experimentation, blistering guitar solos and a cold Black Metal core.

Black Metal screams, shouted group vocals/chants and other vocalisations are included across these 44 minutes.

The band have a quirky, almost jaunty feel to them in places. Some of the rhythmic riffing may have that Black Metal sheen but they also have a more upbeat feel to them as well, recalling bands such as Countess and Sigh being played by Darkthrone or Satyricon, perhaps.

They also have a bit of a driving Rock influence to some of the guitar leads and solos; sometimes it’s just so damn Rocking you can feel the wind in your hair.

I like that each song has its own identity and the band keep things interesting by incorporating a whole plethora of different ideas and sub-styles into their central Black Metal vision.

The album whirls by in a blur and is over before you know it. Av Oss, For Oss is a very strong album and a big achievement for Einherjer.

Give it a try and see what you think.

Countess – Ancient Lies And Battle Cries (Review)

CountessHailing form the Netherlands, this is the new album by Countess, their 14th in fact, I believe.

This is the follow up to last year’s Sermons of the Infidel, where I was introduced to their individualistic, dare I say it, chirpy, brand of Black Metal. I have been looking forward to seeing what they serve up this time.

Within a few scant seconds of pressing play Countess confirm that they haven’t changed and they are, in fact, just as unique and special as they’ve always been. Hurrah!

The same distinctive vocals layer the music, and the same NWOBHM-influenced Black Metal underpins everything nicely.

There are two main differences between this and Sermons of the Infidel. The first is that Ancient Lies and Battle Cries has a few longer songs on it, and these have a bit of a nice Progressive feel to them in addition to the NWOBHM feeling. The second is the sound the band have on this recording – they sound absolutely huge! A really massive production rounds off the release and the songs sound positively buzzing due to it.

The songs remain absurdly catchy and the tracks have an astounding amount of depth and longevity in them for relatively simple compositions. This is the joy and the gift of Metal in the hands of masters.

I don’t have any of the older Countess material, sadly, but they have made a life-long fan of me nonetheless just with these last two releases alone. I won’t even pretend to be objective about this – Countess are just brilliant.

Countess – Sermons of the Infidel (Review)

CountessWhoa! When the first track Hymn to the Gods of Yore starts you immediately sit up and take notice! This veteran Black Metal band from the Netherlands know how to make an entrance!

This is an insanely catchy release, especially for this genre. There’s a strong Old-School, NWOBHM feel to a lot of the riffs and the songs in general; combined with the raspy vocals and the heavy keyboards the songs just melt in your mouth and saturate the brain.

There is a simplicity of songwriting to these songs that is a testament to how good they are – no nonsense or filler, just pure Metal. It puts me in mind of what Reverend Bizarre might sound like if they worshipped at the altar of, (NWOBHM-influenced), Black Metal instead of Doom. Maybe some form of unholy mix of Reverend Bizarre and Sigh…? Maybe with a dash of The Meads of Asphodel…? Hmm…Either way it’s straightforward, but well-written and effective. And massively fun and satisfying.

The vocals are highly distinctive; Black Metal they may be but they seem to be competing for the role of the Devils Own Croak. Very good show!

I can’t help but listen to this and smile. It’s near-impossible not to. If you include this as part of some random playlist you’ll notice that Countess stand out straight away. The band may have been around for over two decades now but they’re still a much-needed force to reckon with. Give them a listen and prepare to be hooked.