Witchery – I Am Legion (Review)

WitcheryThis is the seventh album from Swedish blackened thrash metal band Witchery.

Hot on the heels of last year’s In His Infernal Majesty’s Service, this Swedish supergroup, (Arch Enemy, The Haunted, among others), have returned suprisingly quickly with another collection of sharp, vicious tunes. Continue reading

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The Infernal Sea – The Great Mortality (Review)

The Infernal SeaThis is the second album by UK black metallers The Infernal Sea.

This is sophisticated black metal that still manages to somehow sound filthy, ugly and grim. It’s a beguiling combination that sees the band combine atmosphere and ferocity in tantalising ways across this 42 minute release. Continue reading

Wederganger/Laster – Split (Review)

Wederganger LasterWederganger and Laster both play black metal and are both from the Netherlands. They have teamed up for this very tasty split.

Wederganger contribute one song, Klaroenen Van de Dood, lasting almost 15 minutes. They’ve been featured on this site before with their début album Halfvergaan Ontwaakt, which was an enjoyable listen that fused orthodox black metal with epic, folk influences.

On this split the band show their predilection for Darkthrone/Satyricon-styled grooves Continue reading

Vredehammer – Violator (Review)

VredehammerThis is Vredehammer’s second album. They play Black Metal and are from Norway.

Vredehammer play aggressive Black Metal that keeps the core of the genre alive and well, while merging it with a state-of-the-art blackness that bands like Satyricon, Keep of Kalessin and Temple of Baal do so well. Add a bit of Death Metal in the form of something like Behemoth and even a touch of Aura Noir-esque Thrash and you have a good overview of Vredehammer’s style. Tracks like Ursus even have a bit of the Amon Amarth about them, to my ears.

The vocals consist of dark outbursts that strike a fine balance between legibility and outright harshness. Sitting somewhere between the styles of Black and Death Metal, they work well to provide a focal point for the music without dominating it.

Powerful rhythm guitars form the bedrock of the tracks and these punish and damage for all they’re worth. Interestingly though, the band build on these strong foundations to provide a more well-rounded listening experience than you might expect; Violator is not a one-dimensional album.

Twisted melodics and bright, ethereal leads occasionally add colour and texture to the band’s blackened rhythms, allowing them to explore wider pastures that their brutal tendencies might otherwise preclude them from. This adds a lot to the album and raises it to another level, quality-wise. This is all wrapped around their inherent malevolent nastiness though, which is never too far from proceedings.

Boasting a strong production to round things off, Violator is a very enjoyable album, and at 35 minutes in length it’s easy to get your fill of their blackened aggression.

Recommended.

Infernal War – Axiom (Review)

Infernal WarInfernal War are from Poland and play Black/Death Metal. This is their third album.

This is ultra brutal Extreme Metal that takes no prisoners and is utterly relentless in its taste for killing. It’s heavy, nasty and downright evil.

Infernal War play a hybrid of Black/Death Metal that’s right on the line between the two styles. Blackened Death Metal, I find, usually leans in favour of Death Metal rather than Black Metal, but occasionally a band appears who gets the mixture just right and we end up with a band that’s hard to categorise into just one of the two. Extreme Metal is an apt description for this reason.

Mixing influences from bands like Behemoth, Marduk and Satyricon, Infernal War proceed to spread spite and bile across these 11 tracks.

Bestial drumming and sharp riffing collide to create fast songs where the band spread their nefarious message with a distinct aggression.

The tracks mainly hover around the 3-4 minute mark and this is ample time to blast their wares out.

It’s enjoyable to hear a band take the direct approach and at the same time merge the two genres in such a competent way. This album is perfect for when you want something that’s hyper-aggressive but can’t decide whether to listen to Death Metal or Black Metal. Infernal War fill the gap and Axiom is a highly recommended listen.

Keep of Kalessin – Epistemology (Review)

Keep of KalessinKeep of Kalessin are from Norway and play Black Metal. This is their Sixth album.

Keep of Kalessin return, and it’s a very welcome one.

Fusing the best of bands like Emperor, Satyricon and Enslaved, Keep of Kalessin have produced an album that’s as epic and soaring as they’ve always promised.

Elements of the symphonic, majestic and even Avant-Garde combine with a state-of-the-art Blackened core to produce tracks that are brightly textured and rich in colour and taste.

Expertly performed cleans act as a central highlight of many of these songs, whilst expressive screams provide an acidic hit of aggression.

Highly emotive music connects with you on a visceral level as the band work their way through 52 minutes of top quality Metal.

The band may have a firm Black Metal core but they have used this to create music that almost transcends genre boundaries. Almost. Ultimately though, this is Black Metal, and it means business.

Their songwriting skills have been further refined since their previous work and this is a relatively varied album that takes in the past whilst leaning towards the future.

Intricate, inspired and sometimes warped riffing is impressively integrated into the wider song structures to create tracks that don’t always do or sound as you expect them to.

The musicianship and production values are first rate of course. Everything is played and recorded extremely professionally and the clean vocals in particular seem vibrant enough to jump out of the speakers.

A must listen for all Extreme Metal fans.

Sühnopfer – Offertoire (Review)

SühnopferThis is the second album from French Black Metallers Sühnopfer.

Sühnopfer play Black Metal that’s sharp, atmospheric and full of Blackened melodies bubbling beneath the blasting surface.

The vocals sound genuinely unhinged. They consist of high pitched screams that are piercing in a way that demands attention.

The songs are richly written with an emphasis on grandiose melodies and expressive guitars. This is Black Metal that’s absolutely played on its own terms to the beat of an older drum. Well, an older set of blast beats mainly.

The sound of the drums is infectious and the guitars seem to shine like crystal. This gives Offertoire a brightness that stands out, even with the dark core that’s inherent in this style of music.

Recalling melodic late 90’s dark delights from the likes of Setherial or even Satyricon, Sühnopfer rarely let up the pace and it works for them very well.

The band manage to create a medieval quality to these tracks, with the rhythms and leads frequently seeming to be inspired by this era; further enhanced as well by the album cover.

This is an album that hits the right spots and ends up as a very satisfying listen.

Highly recommended.

Vyre – The Initial Frontier Pt. 2 (Review)

VyreVyre are from Germany and this is their second album. They play Black Metal.

Vyre’s take on Black Metal is one that includes Post-Black Metal and Avant-Garde influences. This results in an album that has plenty of texture and lots of content to offer the prospective listener.

The compositions on this album could almost certainly qualify as artistic Metal, with the ambition and scope of the songs to match.

Imagine the epic soundscapes of Emperor mixed with the occult stylings of Rotting Christ, a Progressive/Avant-Garde influence from Arcturus and the venomous bite of Satyricon…Vyre have produced a top quality Black Metal release that matches up to these lofty comparisons.

These tracks are hugely impressive, with lots of ideas and character included in the songs. Prime, Grade A Black Metal riffs and melodies are enhanced by atmospheric synths and sounds whilst a dark rasp edges out from the abyss. Disembodied cleans occasionally ring out and majestic leads fill the ether with molten Metal.

I love the obvious amount of work that has gone into crafting these songs. There is literally so much to enjoy here. Every time you listen to it you’ll notice something new. It’s heady stuff.

These tracks have been forged to near-perfection by a very talented band. This is Black Metal that’s been effectively coloured and influenced by Progressive and Avant-Garde Metal without losing any of its inherent darkness or attack.

I had never heard of Vyre before this but I’m so glad that I have now. I strongly recommend you get this album. Listen to it over and over again and let the darkness of the void seep into your brain.

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.

Posthum – The Black Northern Ritual (Review)

PosthumThis is the third album from Black Metallers Posthum.

The album starts with an immediate display of emotive riffing and charismatic vocals. Okay, I’m hooked.

Blood-curdling screams are distinctly of the Black Metal style, but there’s something about them which gives them an edge; in the same way that when you’re listening to the singer of, say, Satyricon – there’s just something extra going on with his voice that allows him to stand apart from the hordes of other, similar Black Metal vocalists.

The riffs and dark melodies that Posthum use are a major highlight for me. There’s a lot of emotion and expressiveness going on here. You could almost class it as Post-Black Metal in this regard if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s just so damn evil. In a way the guitars share that similar something extra that the vocals have; they’re just plain better than most.

This extends to the songs themselves as well. The level of songwriting and riffcraft is extremely high. On first listen the tracks already feel intimate, but not in a bad way; not in the way that makes you think “I’ve heard all this before”. No, this is the intimacy of a familiar lover, just one that you’re meeting for the first time. It’s a slightly disconcerting feeling but a very welcome one. On subsequent listens whatever dark magics Posthum are party to worms their way into your brain even deeper and The Black Northern Ritual is a powerful beast indeed.

On the face of it Posthum do nothing different or new; this is Raw/Underground Black Metal. However, and this is where the magic lies; they play this well-worn style with some undefinable and special quality that just propels them onto a whole other level. It’s something about their songwriting that connects on a visceral level and reminds you of why you loved Black Metal all those years ago when you first heard it.

I pressed play on this album, expecting yet another decent but ultimately average Black Metal album. More fool me. What I got instead was the start of a Blackened love affair.

This album is special.