Noteworthy Report: Rest of 2016 (4/4)

The time has come to close this 4-part Noteworthy Report. These albums and EPs made my year SO much better and if you have compatible music tastes (which is why you are here probably) I can guarantee they will make yours too if you take the time to listen to them.

 

Paul Ozz – Tartarvs

While it is hugely common for black metal musicians to form one man “bands”, the same is a rarity in the death metal scene. Paul Ozz is a hard working musician who managed to put together a little gem of progressive death metal in the form of an EP. He also released a new single just this month.

Listen in full here: https://paulozzmusic.bandcamp.com/album/tartarvs

 

Panzerfaust – The Lucifer Principle

If you ever wondered how the end of the world would sound if you were trapped in a dusty cathedral while it was happening, this EP has the answer. This is some dark black metal.

Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/decibelmagazine/sets/panzerfaust-the-lucifer-principle

 

Perennial Isolation – Epiphanies of the Orphaned Light

This is the third album for the atmospheric black metal band from Spain, and I got to say, they did a tremendously good job at every aspect, from the compositions, to sound, to artwork. The moment you hold this CD you know you’re in for a ride through misty forests. Highly recommended for fans of Agalloch and Fen.

 

Sol Sistere – Unfading Incorporeal Vacuum

Chile has a quite small metal scene, but the few names that made it out of the ‘deep underground’ are of such remarkable quality that makes up for their numbers. This one here is one of the best atmospheric post black metal albums I heard all year.

 

Sinsaenum – Echoes Of The Tortured

Interesting mix of black and death metal. Some DM parts felt underwhelming, but otherwise it is a solid release. Amazing lead guitars and all kinds of cool stuff going on with vocals, and how couldn’t be with three singers one of whom being Attila Csihar…

 

Sojourner – Empires of Ash

Murky, atmospheric black metal bordering pagan folk. For fans of Summoning and Saturnus alike. Quite enjoyable for slow evenings.

 

Sylvaine – Wistful

Shoegaze post rock with a few blackened moments that bring Dismal Euphony’s ‘Soria Moria Slot’ to mind and others reminding late The Gathering, while still carrying a personal brand. Pretty good music to relax you after a hard day.

 

Spire – Entropy

An album that is constantly switching from agonizing Doom/Death to rabid Black metal. It resonates a murky gloomy atmosphere even in its most energetic moments. Excellent work from the Aussies.

 

Temple of Katharsis / Faceless God / Sulferon – Knights Of The Northern Black Empire

The one thing you will immediately notice upon playing this split is the primitive production and sound. But as I stated opening the series of this “Noteworthy Report – all of the great releases of 2016 I didn’t get the time to mention during the year”, I AM giving a break to the least established acts. Once you allow your mind to focus on the music, you will find 6 killer compositions that present 3 different aspects of the Greek underground. Sharp, short and to the point.

 

The Foreshadowing – Seven Heads Ten Horns

There are parts of genius and parts that threw me off, pretty much in constant exchange. It still sounds like a dream, it manages to carry you away. Two Horizons is one of the most beautiful tracks I’ve heard this year.

More info here: https://cycloneempire.bandcamp.com/album/seven-heads-ten-horns

 

Thy Worshiper – Klechdy

Magical, paganistic neofolk, prog black metal from Poland. It sure sounds interesting but can it be good too? Short answer, YES. If Ravenloft was a real place, this could be its folk music.

 

Ultha – Converging Sins

This album generated some hype, and rightly so. Unfortunately I found the majority of vocals not really matching the music which is a masterpiece. Still it is a great album that will give you goosebumps on many occasions throughout its duration (which is slightly over an hour).

 

Urgehal – Aeons in Sodom

Old school Norwegian Black/Thrash. Is there really anything to say about Urgehal? If you never heard of them before, well, you’re a little late…

 

Urfaust – Empty Space Meditation

Urfaust is a band I always liked for the ritualistic occult paranoia of their music, and I always admired for their ability to transfer the feeling of their recordings on a live setting as a duo. Empty Space Meditation carries the heavy air of Der Freiwillige Bettler, yet the maturity of the band in this new release is striking.

 

Voidthrone – Spiritual War Tactics

If you ever go on a journey through some barren desolate hell-hole, this is THE must-have soundtrack to heighten your despair. Dissonant black/doom from USA at its best.

 

Void Omnia – Dying Light

This is the debut album of this newly formed American melodic black metal band, and I must admit they did a hell of a good job. The contemporary US BM scene is becoming quite the thing lately.

Listen here: https://voidomnia.bandcamp.com/album/dying-light

 

Winterfylleth – The Dark Hereafter

The lads from UK are on fire for yet another album. Melancholic, misty, atmospheric black metal, and a brave cover of Ulver’s “Troldskog Faren Vild” compose an instant classic. Don’t miss that one.

 

I haven’t included the albums that I presented in previous Noteworthy Reports (in November and December), nor the albums I reviewed (Deathkin, Battle Dagorath, GreyAblaze, Ossuary Anex, Diabolical) as this would be redundant. The fact I got to talk about them in the first place means that they ARE so special.

If you discovered some other albums that I may missed and you believe I will enjoy, feel free to let me know in the comments…

Have a fucking great week everyone!

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Noteworthy Report: Rest of 2016 (3/4)

The sad thing about early EoY lists is that it pretty much renders EoY lists moot. You are supposed to present your readers with the list of what albums you think are the best releases of the year. But when you publish them early, a lot of great releases are left out (as if a release near the days when people are buying presents isn’t a valid strategy for bands), so it actually is a list of “best releases of the year so far”. Then why not do it in October? “Don’t be ridiculous, this would just mean best releases of the year so far, it won’t be the best releases of the year so far close to end of year”. Right.

Anyway, enough chit chat and on to the meat.

 

Inquisition – Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar Beyond the Celestial Zenith

Inquisition prove one more time that even when they have a bad day, they can do far better than most ‘mainstream’ black metal bands.

 

In the Woods… – Pure

Now this is some comeback! I never really hoped for a second “Heart of the Ages” and so I wasn’t really disappointed that they didn’t deliver one. Still, this isn’t some half-arsed attempt to grab easy money using your past glory as many bands usually do (Gh-Venom-gh). Listen to it, it REALLY is In The Woods

 

In Vain – Mantra

Progressive Black/Death Metal from Norway. Took some 4-5 minutes to grab my attention, but from then on it was a breeze, despite some odd moments. Fans of Borknagar should not miss this.

 

Imperium Infernalis – Imago Dei

Nightmarish vocals, exquisite drumming, tormenting riffs, forge this extraordinary album. Progressive black metal made in Greece. Don’t miss this!

 

Kawir – Πάτερ ‘Ηλιε Μήτερ Σελάνα

Kawir are probably the oldest and most respected Pagan Black metal band in Greece. This album is a bit more heavy metal centric than their previous works but it is still amazing. HAIL KAWIR!

Listen to the album here: https://ironboneheadproductions.bandcamp.com/album/kawir-father-sun-mother-moon

 

Kosmokrator – First Step Towards Supremacy

The biggest drawback here is some of the drumming which in some cases feels out of place. Overlooking this, there are some great riffs, extraordinary vocals and an effort so solid you will sh*t bricks.

 

Lux Divina – Walk Within the Riddle

Spanish black metal with a feeling, for fans of Wolves In The Throne Room. Very well thought out compositions, tight and focused play and an excellent production. Give them your attention, they worth it.

 

Mistur – In Memoriam

Sognametal is alive again! If you don’t know what it means then I guess you don’t know about Windir. If you do know what it means, I can only add this comes right after “Arntor” in my preferences. YES, it is THAT good!

Listen in full here: https://mistur.bandcamp.com/album/in-memoriam

 

Murg – Gudatall

Grim and ferocious Swedish black metal. It could be a masterpiece, but somehow they manage to abruptly dismiss all the tension buildup, which will make you feel awkward in many cases. A very good album nonetheless.

 

Netherbird – The Grander Voyage

Finely crafted Swedish melodic black/death metal. The album flows from start to finish as a beautiful stream of music, revolving around a main theme and using it playfully to cross boundaries and genres. Nothing you haven’t heard before (not THAT important to me anyways), it has its fair share of epic moments.

 

Novembre – Ursa

Partially doom, partially prog, partially death, this wild mix is probably the best album Italy gave to the world over the last years. Highly recommended for fans of late Enslaved and Fen, and to anyone who appreciates well composed music actually.

Buy it here: https://novembre2.bandcamp.com/album/ursa

 

Negură Bunget – ZI

When you merge the folk tradition of Transilvania with natural ambient black ‘n’ roll the result is certainly weird, and paradoxically sounds great. A rewarding listen…

 

Nahtrunar – Existenz

When this album got released halfway in December, I knew it was going in my EoY list within minutes. It deserved to spread like wild fire, but unfortunately most major publications had already closed their lists and articles for the year at that time. If you are serious about your black metal, you CANNOT afford to miss such a finely crafted album.

 

Plebeian Grandstand – False Highs, True Lows

We used to say that there is something in the Icelandic water that turns its youth into super-musicians. I am starting to believe that there is something going on with French water too. Relentless experimental black metal, in the vein of Deathspell Omega. Top notch.

 

Prosternatur – Abyssus Abyssum Invocat

Ritualistic experimental black metal. I don’t have much to say about it, it is *almost* a masterpiece. There were a handful of moments that disturbed the whole atmosphere that was building, but apart from that, the album is really haunting. Great release.

 

Verwoed – Bodemloos

Bodemloos in English means bottomless, and this EP is exactly that. The loose structures of the songs pull you toward a spiral to the depths of hell. Nightmarish black metal is what the Dutch are good at, and this is no exception.

 

So this was the 3rd part of my list of noteworthy releases. One more to go, and then I might even tell you which of all those are my favorites. Have a great weekend everyone!

Noteworthy Report: Rest of 2016 (2/4)

Ok, time for the second part of the “Noteworthy Report – all the great releases of 2016 I didn’t have the time to write about”. Take the time to listen to them and wonder why exactly haven’t you noticed those gems earlier. The big publications impose a “barrier to entry” since in today’s business model of music the Labels can’t anymore. The big blogs and webzines use click-bait techniques to keep themselves afloat. And in between a struggle happens, of bands trying to get their music out there, to the fragmented attention span of the fans. Enough talking, here comes…

 

Cwealm – Odes to No Hereafter

There are many people that believe melodic black metal was prematurely ushered out the window back in 2000. Astraeus, the mastermind and sole member of this Swedish band, is one of them. Taking the genre from where Dissection left it before Nodveidt’s imprisonment, he expands from there adding modern elements. A really impressive debut album, highly recommended.

 

Celtefog – Sounds Of The Olden Days

Another one man band, this time from Greece. Melodic, atmospheric pagan black, this album is guaranteed to take you on a trip to battlefields now lost. Their most mature release so far is promising despite its flaws. Keep an eye on them. Listen to it here: https://celtefog.bandcamp.com/album/sounds-of-the-olden-days

 

Coldblood – Indescribable Physiognomy Of The Devil

High quality technical death metal from Brazil. The insanity of their vocals combined with their powerful riffs are going to leave a deep scar on your brain.

 

Conceived By Hate – Death & Beyond

If there is one metal genre that thrives in Central America, this must be death metal, usually sprinkled with drops of blood, sweat and …Thrash. This band from El Salvador represents just that.

 

Cult of Fire – Life, Sex & Death

Occult black metal inspired from Hinduism (although the band is actually from Czech Republic). If I only had a word to spare that would be: soulful.

 

Darkestrah – Turan

There are only three (3) active bands in Kyrgyzstan right now, and Darkestrah are the oldest among them. Majestic pagan black metal of the highest standards.

 

Dark Tranquillity – Atoma

This is a band that doesn’t need introductions. Whenever they experiment outside their comfort zone the outcome doesn’t always reflect their quality. But the mark of a great musician is taking lessons from those misfires, and Dark Tranquillity have shown time and time again that they can return to their base character and build with what they learned from their experiments. This is just a good album, so naturally their next will be a masterpiece.

 

Ellende – Todbringer

Austria has a great tradition in this kind of atmospheric black metal. This is just another great example. Fans of Summoning will greatly enjoy this album.

 

Fiat Nox – Light the Torches

Debut release of this atmospheric black metal act from Gremany. Demo, EP, you name it, all I know is that these guys know their game and the three songs it contains are both enjoyable as well as promising.

 

Gherzen – 1917

They say it is bad to judge a book by its cover. I guess this is true for music too, as the debut album of this Russian band easily proves. One of the best atmospheric black metal releases of the year.

 

Gespenst – Forfald

This album is breathtaking. From start to finish, and despite their quite long durations, these four tracks act as a reminder of why we are drawn to this music. Majestic, dark, phantasmal. Scandinavian black metal at its finest!

Listen to the album here: https://hellthrasherproductions.bandcamp.com/album/forfald

 

Gruesome – Dimensions of Horror

When Gruesome appeared out of the blue two years ago we didn’t know what hit us. With Dimensions of Horror they continue on the path of Savage Land. Highly recommended for fans of early Death.

 

Gravatus – LI_E

Experimental black metal from Romania. There is much room for improvement, but it certainly sounds promising, and being in this list means it is way better than most mediocre attempts made by established bands of the genre.

 

Grok – A Spineless Descent

Old school majestic black metal from Colorado, USA. Feels like it is 1993 again, awesome stuff.

 

Gjendød – S/T (Demo)

This is probably the surprise of the year. The duo from Trondheim came out of nowhere and released a demo that took the world by storm. Classic Norwegian black metal of the kind we thought lost. Killer riffs, aggressiveness all over the place, bundled with bombastic sound. A must have!

Listen in full here: https://hellthrasherproductions.bandcamp.com/album/demo-2016

 

Temaukel – Spirit of Wintek

This is some quite epic melodic black metal from Chile. Temaukel is the solo project of Krenn, and they have already released a new single this month.

 

Throes Of Dawn – Our Voices Shall Remain

Any ‘best of’ list that does not contain a single Finnish band is a fake best of list. Throes of Dawn is one of the oldest bands of Finland and is highly recommended for fans of late Amorphis and Tiamat.

 

So that was the second part. Two more to go (coming shortly). That’s another handful of music to get you through a day or two…

Noteworthy Report: Rest of 2016 (1/4)

In recent years it is becoming the norm for blogs and magazines to give an ‘EoY’ (end-of-year) list with the 10 best albums of the year (or in some cases 12, or even 80 if that makes sense). I was hesitating to follow this practice, especially since I don’t use a grading system for my reviews, so what I decided instead is to give you a list of what I kept in my noteworthy list throughout 2016. Had I started ATF reviews earlier, these all would have ended up in either a proper review or a Noteworthy Report, but since I began writing late in November there was no time to make it happen.

Notice that there is no noticeable distinction between ‘underground’ and ‘established’ acts. Still I give somewhat of a break to lesser known acts because having to compete to get a name out there is already hard enough.

Due to the sheer number of releases included in this “Noteworthy Report – all that is left of 2016 that I didn’t have the time to talk about” I will break it into 4 parts. Hold your breath, it’s gonna take a while (but it will be worth it, I promise)…

 

Anaal Nathrakh – The Whole Of The Law

When you know someone is capable of perfection, anything less is unacceptable. To me this isn’t their best release, and this is the only flaw of the album.

 

ancient-bttlotd

Ancient – Back to the Land of the Dead

Ancient is a band from the old guard of Norwegian black metal. They haven’t made a huge name as their compatriots mostly due to their lackluster releases, but I always check them out for old-time’s sake. While this album is nothing too impressive, I think it is probably their most solid release after “The Cainian Chronicle” back in 1996.

Listen here: http://www.terrorizer.com/news/listen-new-album-ancient-back-land-dead/

 

Asphyx – Incoming Death

Groovy and powerful death/thrash. If you never liked them, this isn’t the album to change your heart, otherwise check it out.

 

Arria-Paetus.jpg

Arria Paetus – S/T

Powerful black metal from Alaska. Just the right mix of aggression, experimentation and cold feelings. This is from a band that came out of nowhere and just conquered!

Listen to it here: https://arriapaetus.bandcamp.com/album/arria-paetus

 

 

Astral Path – An Oath to the Void

Excellent atmospheric shoegaze cosmic black metal from Canada. They formed in 2015, and this is just their first -yet extremely promising- release…

 

Aornos – Mors Sola

Hungarian metal is known for its wild experimentations. This is not the case with Aornos. High quality black metal, no wheels re-invented.

 

Athos – Noht Lerapot

I’ve known Athos ever since their inception and seeing them getting better and better with every release just makes me happy. Hellenic pagan black metal.

 

Australes Tenebris – Reflections of a Decadent Life

Debut full length album for this Brazilian black metal band. Amazing work in general, there are some flaws in the production and drumming, but I guarantee you will enjoy this album nonetheless.

 

belakor-vessels

Be’lakor – Vessels

Melodic death metal from Australia. I still prefer their “Stone’s Reach” album, this one sounded quite watered down. Still if you are into mainstream progressive death, this is a good investment. Highly recommended to fans of Opeth‘s lighter moments and Amon Amarth‘s darkest ones…

Listen to the album here: https://belakor.bandcamp.com/album/vessels

 

Belenos – Kornôg

While most of the French BM scene is taking the chaotic experimental path Deathspell Omega opened, Belenos are staying true to their epic brand. A very good album that brought Himinbjorg to mind at points.

 

Baptism – V: The Devil’s Fire

Finland is packed with amazing bands that doesn’t have the following they deserve, and Baptism are no exception. The album is a gem of traditional BM.

Listen to the album here: https://baptismofficial.bandcamp.com/album/v-the-devils-fire

 

Belligerent Intent – The Crucifire

Another Australian death metal band, drawn to the extreme of the spectrum this time. Focused play and attention to the finest detail, this album is a keeper.

 

Behexen – The Poisonous Path

This is one Finnish band that is churning one good black metal album after the other. I admit this one felt kind of a letdown (purely because of my high expectations from them), yet it still has way more than the average of what makes a good album, well, ‘good’.

 

Cirith Gorgor – Visions of Exalted Lucifer

One of my beloved bands from the Netherlands ever since their “Unveiling the Essence” album. This one is a masterpiece of melodic black metal with just enough traces of experimentation to keep things interesting.

 

crimsonmoon-oneironaut

Crimson Moon – Oneironaut

Crimson Moon started as a one-man band back in 1994, added members solwly and steadily with every release, and ended up again as a one-man band for this 3rd album, which really stands by its name: this is a journey inside dreams –or nightmares- and apart from some odd moments, I really liked it.

Listen to it here: https://crimsonmoonxeper.bandcamp.com/album/oneironaut

 

Dark Funeral – Where The Shadows Forever Reign

Dark Funeral need no introduction. For yet another album they play their bread & butter riffs (no real excitement here), and even while it is too darn difficult to fill Caligula’s shoes, they still did a wonderful job.

 

Dizziness / Lord Impaler / Hell Poemer – Carved by the Winds Eternal

Last (but not least) for the first part is what may seem just like a shameless plug to most people -at least those who know who I am-, but believe me, if I didn’t believe this to be a good release we wouldn’t even make the effort to release it. Three bands showcase three different aspects of Greek black metal.

 

 

…Well my friends, this is more than enough to keep you occupied as I gather my material for the follow up part (which I expect to happen in 2-3 days). Enjoy them, and I really hope you will discover some cool music in here. And don’t forget to SUPPORT THE UNDERGROUND…

Diabolical – Umbra (2016)

diabolical-umbra-cover

Sweden’s Diabolical are the definition of unknown heroes of the underground. This exactly is why I started ATF, to shed some well deserved light on such bands. Formed in 1998, they have four full length albums under their belt, and I believe this year they are about to add another one to the count.

From the very first minutes of this EP they give the stigma of their brand of melodic blackened death metal, but their music is so multifaceted that under this veil hide a true chameleon. Even before the first song reaches its end, the mood changes, setting the stage for the follow up, and this repeats for the whole duration. Through those four tracks they offer enough variation by introducing new elements and changing the emotions using lead guitars, synths, voices, samples, whatever it takes to make the EP impactful. This in my humble opinion is just excellent songwriting and clever production.

The rhythm guitars sound ‘proper heavy’ while the leads are constantly buzzing away, weaving a melodic layer. The bass and drumwork are quite inspired, supporting the music without overburdening the mids. The brutal vocals fit the music like a glove, while the clean voices (when used) help take the songs the extra mile. Everything is properly done, which is a pleasant surprise in the ocean of half-arsed releases we are drown.

The sound on this EP is clean and powerful. The mix is just right. You feel the balance in every aspect of every song. Everything sounds natural and manages to wake up feelings, which is what music should be able to do as an art form.

The verdict? Give it a spin. If these 20 minutes cannot convince you that Diabolical deserve to be big, I honestly don’t know what can. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

more info:

https://www.facebook.com/diabolicalofficial/

http://store.diabolical.se/