Utburd – The Horrors Untold (Review)

UtburdUtburd is a one man Russian black metal band and this is his second album.

Combining elements of both atmospheric and depressive black metal alongside a second wave base, this release explores the dark horrors that lurk in the night. Continue reading

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Promethean Misery – Ghosts (Review)

Promethean MiseryPromethean Misery is a one-woman project playing atmospheric and doom metal-influenced neo-classical music.

After her extremely impressive and enjoyable Bloodlet EP from earlier in the year, this new album contains more alluring, dark, and wonderfully-realised music. Continue reading

The Promise of Plague – Sleepwalking into Armageddon (Review)

The Promise of PlagueThe Promise of Plague are an industrial black metal band from the US. This is their debut release.

Featuring members of Fatal Step, Astrum, Empyrean Asunder and the mighty Abominant, here we have 16 minutes of raw black metal with industrial/modern influences that place it somewhere between the underground and a more accessible area; not quite polished and commercial, but potentially getting there. Continue reading

Vereor Nox – Noli Respicere (Review)

Vereor NoxThis is the debut album from Italian symphonic black/death metallers Vereor Nox.

In some ways this reminds me of The Forest Dreams of Black by Tine, which is one of my favourite examples of how to merge black and death metal with symphonic elements. Although Vereor Nox don’t sound like carbon copies of Tine, there’s enough superficial resemblance to make me instantly warm to the music on Noli Respicere. Continue reading

Sarcoptes – Songs and Dances of Death (Review)

SarcoptesSarcoptes are a black metal band from the US. This is their début album.

This record makes me feel nostalgic. The band play a classic style of black metal that incorporates elements of the 90s symphonic style alongside a few thrashier bits here and there. It really does take me back to the early days of bands like Cradle of Filth, Emperor, Bal-Sagoth, Hecate Enthroned, Dimmu Borgir, etc.

The singer has Continue reading

Formicarius – Lake of the Dead (Review)

FormicariusFormicarius are a Black Metal band from the UK. This is their first release.

Here we have almost 12 minutes of music, made up of two originals and an Emperor cover. Formicarius’ Black Metal is Symphonic, Old-School and dark. Harking back to an early era when bands like Cradle of Filth, Emperor, Dimmu Borgir and Emperor were still young, Formicarius are attempting to herald a return to such times.

Featuring veterans of the UK Metal scene, (including the guitarist of the excellent De Profundis), this is a band who are starting out from a very strong position, so although this is only their first release it very much sounds like they have been together for a lot longer.

The songs have a streamlined darkness that flows and winds around the ostentatious keyboards like vines trying to strangle the life from something. The grim music pulses against the throat of the bright orchestration but doesn’t dampen its enthusiasm. Indeed, it seems spurned on by its antagonistic partnership to even greater heights.

One thing that was largely missing from this style back in the day was guitar solos, so I’m pleased that these make a brief appearance here. Played well, the music in general is accomplished and enjoyable. The songs are relatively simple homages to the Old-School Symphonic Black Metal style, (a bit of a mouthful), that are well-written and perfromed by people who clearly know what they’re doing.

Although there is a good helping of nostalgia with music such as this, (very much so for me), this is still a band who are doing their best to bring the style into the modern age. Admittedly, there’s only so much of this which can be done before changing the music into something else entirely, but on Lake of the Dead it’s the small touches here and there that give the band a certain edge; a short melody, a certain riff or keyboard addition…it distinguishes them as a band who are from the here and now, regardless of how old a style it is that they play and clearly love.

And the Emperor cover is fucking great, too.

12:00 minutes of quality. Get it.

Alastor Sanguinary Embryo – For Satan and the Ruin of the Divine (Review)

Alastor Sanguinary EmbryoAlastor Sanguinary Embryo are a Black Metal band from Costa Rica. This is their third album.

This is Melodic/Symphonic Black Metal, but not necessarily in the way you might be thinking. A lot of the time these days Symphonic Black Metal is polished, ostentatious and overblown; this is more Old-School Symphonic Black Metal, if there is such a thing. We’re back in the ancient old days of early Emperor, Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth, et al for this one.

The keyboards are subtle affairs, (relatively), working to add flavour to the Blackened assault rather than trying to be overly-prominent or ruling the roost, so to speak. For this kind of Black Metal this is the preferred state of things and Alastor Sanguinary Embryo never lose their dark bite because of it.

There are a variety of moods, speeds and feelings on this release, but I find that I enjoy it the most when the band are in full-on blast beat mode, with everything fast, screeching and trying to outdo everything else.

The scathing vocals, sharp guitars and understated atmospheric keyboards provide a lot of Blackened entertainment throughout this 58 minutes and I like that the blast beats are never too far away from proceedings. Also – you can actually hear the bass, which is always a plus point. But, and get this – BASS SOLO! Fuck yeah!

Ahem.

Although some of the writing could do with tightening up on occasion, this is ultimately a really good exemplar of how Symphonic Black Metal should sound if you want a good taste of what the style was originally about, rather than what it’s largely become today.

A refreshing blast from the past; it’s hard to not enjoy this release as there’s such palpable enthusiasm and passion on display here. The songs are just really enjoyable, especially if you were brought up on this kind of thing.

Check them out.

Dys Inbunden – One with Morbidity, the Opus Misanthropy (Review)

Dys InbundenDys Inbunden are a Swedish Black Metal band and this is their second album.

Dys Ibunden have crafted a ferocious assault on the senses with their new album. It’s an intense 87 minutes of music that will leave you battered, bruised and probably sacrificed to some underworld deity or other. And yes, you read the playing time correctly. There is a lot of Black Metal here.

The songs are on the longer side and no opportunity to spread their dark message is missed. The majority of the album is hyper-aggressive Black Metal, so beloved of the Swedish style. The band skilfully add a bit of atmosphere and depth to this, however, otherwise the long playing time would mean this would get very boring, very quickly. Dys Inbunden play a more mature, complex version of the Swedish Black Metal style, in many ways, and these songs work because of this.

The vocals are a cross between standard Black Metal screams and a more Cradle of Filth-esque piercing delivery. Occasional cleans appear; these are used sparingly and are kind of like semi-heroic, chanting hymns. Or something.

The band have a rather muscular sound, which is unusual for a Black Metal band. The bass makes its presence felt and the combination of the guitars and drums makes it feel like you’ve been punched in the face a few hundred times.

If hostile Black Metal is your thing and you’re not adverse to a bit of depth and atmosphere then check out Dys Inbunden

The King Is Blind – The Deficiencies of Man (Review)

The King Is BlindThis is the début EP from UK Death Metallers The King Is Blind.

This 16 minute EP is brimming with solid Death Metal that is brutally melodic and darkly Metallic.

The band come off as a cross between Bolt Thrower and Morbid Angel with a touch of Behemoth and even a bit of Celtic Frost to some of the riffs. As you can imagine, it’s a heady combination.

The vocals are deep and have an air of the occult about them, as if there’s more going on here than just mere vocalisations and maybe, just maybe, something is being summoned. They sound otherworldly, venomous and nasty all at the same time.

The recording is clear and heavy. There are some lovely riffs on this release. When the band hit their stride, be this with blastbeats or mid-paced riffs, they sound colossal and meaty in all the right places.

This is a great collection of songs from a band who may be relatively new but have a lot of collective experience to their members, (Extreme Noise terror, Entwined, The Blood Divine, Cradle of Filth). This means that The King Is Blind have bypassed the early getting-to-know-our-sound stage and emerged fully-blooded into the Death Metal killing pits.

An album from these will be eagerly awaited I’m sure. Ones to watch.