God Syndrome – Controverse (2016)


Time and time again I have declared my dislike to groovy metal-core. And here I am reviewing an album that stands with one foot in it. No, it’s not dry season. Rather the opposite. It’s just the simple fact that this is a killer album despite its grooviness (or –for people that aren’t me– thanks to exactly that).

God Syndrome come from Samara, Russia. Have I told you lately how the Russian extreme metal scene is becoming a really great one? This is another example of this fact. With one foot knee-deep in American tech-death-core and the other in Swedish melo-death, they present an annihilating mix similar to Hypocrisy on steroids.

The album starts with a tech-y catch-all track, one to lure the average generalist metalhead, but shortly after that it gets a character of its own (and gains the review slot). The songs flow beautifully and you won’t even notice its almost hourly duration. This in my book counts as great songwriting.

The guitars are expertly performed, especially for a lead-packed album such as this one. These melodic leads are pretty trippy to the point of melancholy, bringing late Septic Flesh and Hypocrisy to mind on many occasions. The vocals are perfect and fit the music in both its brutal and melodic phases. The drums are intense and really well composed. Always on target –no matter the experimentation– they manage to give the right atmosphere to every riff. The bass here takes on a more supportive role. Clean and powerful, it glues all the pieces together.

Sound-wise, the production is perfect. The instruments are well separated and mixed properly. Special care has been given to preserve enough “air” to let the dynamics do their part.

Overall, this is an album worth your time and money. I never really expected to say something like that for an album with a –core synthetic in it but honestly, anything less would be a mean lie. It has enough power to satisfy every extreme death metal fan, and enough groove to satisfy pretty much every other metalhead. Fans of Hypocrisy around “The Final Chapter” era will surely love it (this is the third time I dropped their name so I really mean it)! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

For more info follow them on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/godsyndrome


Avslut – Vanskapt (2016)


Avslut is a newly formed band, but also a hard working one. In their sole year of existence they released two singles and one EP, for which I am going to talk about in this review. The band members are seasoned musicians (although I never heard of their previous bands) and this can be heard – the quality of their work is astonishing.

If what you seek in your black metal is darkness, disharmony, anger, misery, deformity, this EP has you covered. With four tracks clocking just over 20 minutes, they give us a taste of classic Swedish black metal that pays tribute to the entirety of their scene, in its own unique way.

Sharp guitars intertwine and create beautiful yet nightmarish riffing, the bass is digging graves and the gnarled vocals assault the senses. The intense drumming is inspired and fitting and the tight mix glues everything together nicely, leaving enough headroom for dynamics. I always like that as it makes the listening experience easy.

The compositions are well thought out. They never go stale; instead they constantly evolve into some new mischief. Vrede had my hair raised. On many occasions I felt my heart racing. I can’t remember when was the last time a contemporary release managed to do that to me. All I can say for this little gem here is: a work of genius. I became a huge fan of Avslut in under 20 minutes. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

For more Avslut head here: https://www.facebook.com/1008Avslut1008/

Interview with GreyAblaze

Back in December I had a great opportunity to talk with Astargh regarding GreyAblaze’s fresh full length album. As a musician myself, I am always curious about the way other people of my ilk work as well as the business end of things. If you too are curious, read below and be enlightened.

Give me a short bio of your project.

The project has no biography. Once I had the idea to write DSBM project, but it turned to something else.

The album was recorded back in 2013 but got released just now. Why is that?

I didn’t want to give it indiscriminately to someone, all proposals for the production of the album were unsuitable. Ashen Dominion did everything as I wanted, so they released the album.


What is the feedback so far? How are the sales going?

I do not know how many CDs were sold, I do not follow it. But we got a lot of positive feedback.

Now that the album is out, would you change anything in it?

No, everything turned out as planned. All I wanted to do now, will be on the new album.

You haven’t gone into the usual great lengths that most labels require to market the album (professional photo shootings, videoclip etc). Was this deliberate? Are you happy with the label’s support so far?

Here, it was not necessary. There are music and images in the lyrics. Think that this album not needs in musicians photos and music clips, we give to listeners the freedom of imagination.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

It is very difficult to say where it all comes from. I think it come from inner state, some feelings, from music of old bands, such as Queen or Pink Floyd.

What are the lyrics about?

All the lyrics for the album written by Helg (Khors, Ulvegr, KZOHH).  They didn’t have some sending or concepts, but they are filled with a very expressive images that emphasized Greyablaze music.

What is your creative routine? Can you tell me anything about your favorite gear or software you use?

Usually I compose music at home. When all the demos are ready, we start working on the Dark Essence Recording Studio. At work, I use a lot of software, the main DAW – Pro Tools, also I use many Kontakt libraries. I have old American guitars BC Rich and Jackson, I used them on all recordings.


What are your future plans with GreyAblaze? Are you planning to play live shows?

Now I compose a new album which I want to release this year. About the live performances anything difficult to say. If there are proposals, we will play concerts, but there is the same problem as with Elderblood – for organizers of concerts is difficult to carry a band from Ukraine.

Any albums you listened lately that you would like to share with us?

Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon
Cult of Luna / Julie Christmas – Mariner

What can you tell me about your local scene? Any bands we should lookout?

I do not watch the local scene. All worthy groups are already known.

What do you know of the Greek metal scene? Do you have any favorite bands?

From the Greek scene, I heard a lot of bands. Favorites are Septic Flesh and Acherontas.

Anything else you want to add?

Thanx for the interest in GreyAblaze. Horns Up!



To stay tuned with GreyAblaze, follow the band at:



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!

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 – 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 – 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.



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.



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…