Coven 13 – Destiny of the Gods (Review)

Coven 13Well this is an enjoyable romp of an album! Traditional Heavy Metal mixed with elements of Revered Bizarre-style Doom, 70’s psychedelic influences and some good old rock ‘n’ roll swagger for good measure.

Attitude and plain old metal fun is the order of business here. Not to imply that they are a novelty band or “jokey” in anyway. Not at all; rather they have a joyousness to their sound that I imagine would translate very well live and that their performances would be, well, fun!

Traditional song structures and strong choruses abound, as well as some nice fretwork and solid tub bashing. The vocals immediately strike the listener as the most noticeable element of the band as the sheer enthusiasm and character that they have is a welcome change – there’s no way you could accuse this singer of not giving his all. The vocals appear to be imbued with the full force of his personality in a way that is relatively rare these days. In fact the entire album sounds out of place in today’s modern metal climate in many ways as it is a very individual record with scant regard for trends and cliques, etc.

A refreshing blast from the past come to liven up the present.

Andramelech/Serpent Noir – Gateway to the Nightside (Review)

AndramelechA rather tasty split release here from two purveyors of dark Black Metal.

Andramelech offer up two largely, (but not wholly), mid-paced slices of exquisite Black Metal art. Speed is used as and when necessary but otherwise these tracks are more about the feeling conveyed and the atmosphere of blackened hellfire. The melodies, especially in The Voiceless Verb of Vovin, conjure up appropriate images and feelings of otherworldliness and tension. For 9 minutes the listener is made to feel distinctly uneasy – something bad is about to happen but who knows what? The songwriting here is first-rate and Andramelech are definitely a band to watch.

After Andramelech leave us with feelings of discomfort and incantations, Serpent Noir ease us in gently with a light chanting and invocation. Surely nothing bad can come of this? What could they be calling out to anyway, really? Whatever it is the next track, the 11 minute epic Shadow as a Portal channels it perfectly. A sense of forlorn longing and hopelessness slowly settles over this track. Something has been taken away and can never be returned. Despondent; what solution do you have except to succumb? Oblivion beckons and it is hungry.

Serpent Noir offer a complex and interesting take on Black Metal, and all the more pure for it. Exceptional drum work, atmospheric riffing and varied vocals make for a song that has more ideas and interest than a thousand Darkthrone-clones.

Two bands that are well worth a look.

Monte Penumbra – Heirloom of a Sullen Fall (Review)

Monte PenumbraA rich amalgamation of Black Metal and Doom; Monte Penumbra’s début album may be relatively short at only 35 minutes, but it is packed to the hilt with texture and interesting things going on.

Slow, doom-laden Black Metal played with skill and passion; Monte Penumbra know their art and know how to get the most out of their songs. Interesting riffs, atmospheric interludes, tempo changes; this is bleak-yet-Black Metal that hits the spot; sludge hijacked by Black Metal and bent to its will.

The vocals are varied – ranging from chants, screams to powerful almost-singing; a welcome change from the generic.

This is an enjoyable album for those times when you’re in the mood for something a bit more brooding and well-paced, thoughtful and introspective yet still drenched in Black Metal’s distinctive colours.

Weapon – Naga: Daemonum Praeteritum (Review)

WeaponOh this is wonderfully dirty underground Black Metal! Gritty and raw. The kind of sound that can garrotte the unwary listener at 100 yards.

This is a collection of three demos, (Within the Flesh of the Satanist, Violated Hejab and Para Bhakti…Salvation), all remastered by Lars Broddesson of Marduk. The sound is brutal and distorted; filthy and fuzzy. This is the sound of a band expressing themselves with whatever means at their disposal – straight for the jugular.

For the main the vocals are guttural shouts – almost what you’d expect from old-school Death Metal rather than Black Metal, but it suits the style well. There is also some variety in places; from almost-spoken harshness to slightly higher-pitched-but-still-quite-deep; enough to keep the listener interested.

The music is slithering, sharp and surprisingly rhythmic in the drum department on occasion. The riffs are simple and classic for the most part, but they are not afraid to experiment as the needs of the song dictate, with plenty of interest and ideas to be had throughout. The emphasis here is on expressing feelings of darkness and hate and vomiting them forth into the recording, a tone which is captured well.

The sound may be primitive but that shouldn’t put you off – here we have some perfect examples of aggressive underground Black Metal that any true fan of the genre can’t help but appreciate.

Overall I would rate this release very highly indeed. It’s non-generic, interesting and has plenty of feeling and passion. What more could you want?

Arfsynd – Hesychia (Review)

ArfsyndHailing from Sweden; Arfsynd play underground Black Metal with plenty of both melody and bite. The overall feeling conjured by this album is one of an evil majesty.

Epic, soaring melodies juxtapose against solid Black Metal drums while a distinctly non-standard Black Metal voice shouts over the top of it. The slight clash of styles, (simplicity of the drums, brutal hoarseness of the vocals, epic melodies and riffs), works better than it might otherwise sound, coming together to create songs of real character that are instantly memorable and enjoyable.

As touched on; the vocals are not the normal Black Metal shrieking that you may expect; rather they are hoarse, ugly, shouted things – someone has been dredged up from the bowels of Hades to provide these vocals and they are making sure that their mark is felt. Extra vocal styles are used to accompany the main ones throughout this release, adding another layer and further interest to the music.

With this album though it’s always the intricate, impressive use of melody that I return to. The guitars and bass are used expertly to provide such a wealth of feeling and depth that the music sounds alive and vital.

This is no run-of-the-mill colder-than-thou generic Black Metal. This is real, living, vibrant and essential. Highly enjoyable.

Pantheon of Blood – Tetrasomia (Review)

Pantheon of BloodScything, razor-sharp Black Metal from Finland. This is their third release and shows much promise for the future.

There are good melodies aplenty on this release, with a sound that is at once on the raw side but not really enough to qualify as “necro” or to obscure the music that is on display here. The vocals are suitably high and screeching, (in a good way), so there are no problems in this department. The instruments are all played competently and the band have a good grasp of the basics of songwriting, which can only develop further in the future.

I enjoyed this release – it is relatively short, but then it is an EP, and should be viewed as a taster for a (hopefully) upcoming full-length. I look forward to hearing what they come up with.

Give them a listen and see what you think.