Noteworthy Report: Rest of 2017 (pt.4)

I’ve had this 4th and last part of my Noteworthy Report «all the great albums of 2017 I didn’t get to talk about» for quite some time on my HDD, but for one reason or another I didn’t have the energy to actually go finish the finer details that go hand in hand with actually posting a NWR. However, with March marching to an end, I knew I had to act, mostly because in this specific part you will find what I believe is THE best album of 2017, and not posting it would really be a shame. Without further ado I give you the Noteworthy Report: Rest of 2017 pt. 4/4.

 

Ars Magna Umbrae – Through Lunar Gateways

Magnificent Black Metal that marries the best parts of the melodic, the experimental and the occult. If you weren’t listening to this, what DID you do this summer?

 

Inferno – Gnosis Kardias (Of Transcension and Involution)

On the surface this is yet another black metal album, but it is mixed in such a bizarre and profound way that makes it more of an experience than just a listen. Add the psychedelic Septicflesh-y elements that are subtly woven in and get ready for a trip to another cosmos. If you’re still in doubt, it bears the mark of W.T.C. Productions, and this alone is a testament of its superior quality.

 

Ashenspire – Speak Not of the Laudanum Quandary

This has got to be the ABSOLUTELY BEST album I heard in 2017. The bastard offspring of Ved Buens Ende and Primordial is filled with theatrical vocals, brilliant riffs, epic marches and the sickly medieval atmosphere of rainy England.

 

Wolves In The Throne Room – Thrice Woven

WITTR return with what appears to be their most primitive and aggressive album so far. The shamanistic aesthetics and their crystalline melodies are still here, they just left more room for pure black metal to blossom. Even if you never liked them before, you HAVE to give this album a chance.

 

ÆRA – Of Foresworn Vows

90’s Norwegian Black Metal, only produced in the Americas. Early Gehenna / Emperor come to mind. Short and to the point. Invest!

 

Diablery / Shadowcraft – Entropy

Last but certainly not least, a split by two Greek bands that are slowly but steadily making a name in the scene. Diablery play cold, symphonic Black Metal that has a Scandinavian quality and influences (from early Gehenna all the way to modern-day Dimmu Borgir). Shadowcraft on the other hand are also symphonic but on a more Pagan trajectory and at points they really reminded me of Limbonic Art. This release sure deserves your attention.

 

Thus closes the circle. 2017 proved to be an amazing year for black metal. Let’s wait and see if this year can match it…

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Noteworthy Report: Rest of 2017 (pt.2)

I hope you had enough time to check the first part of my “Noteworthy Report – all the great releases of 2017 I didn’t have the time to write about”. Are you ready for the second part? Well, ready or not, here comes…

 

Grafvitnir – Keys to the Mysteries Beyond

One of the reasons I post my NWR lists this late as the year ends, is that some really good albums get released at the last days of December. (Another reason is that I have a hard time to keep up with my own schedule but that’s a completely different story). Most publications have done their lists by that time and albums just fall through the cracks. It would be a shame for such a beautiful release to have that fate! Malicious melodic Black Metal at its best form.

 

Saqra’s Cult – Forgotten Rites

That’s a really interesting mix of primitive, old-school, mid-tempo Black metal with a touch of shamanistic occultism. The band from Belgium did an impressive debut, without much fanfare. Keep an eye on them.

 

Kafirun – Eschaton

Occult Black Metal is a subgenre that slowly but steadily won its own place in my heart. Every now and then I stumble on an album that really manages to create the otherworldly atmosphere and awe that its name suggests. Isn’t that a success? Don’t miss this deeply unsettling album.

(Bandcamp link to the album)

 

Der Weg Einer Freiheit – Finisterre

Germany always did great in Gothic and Thrash, but their Black metal always felt “wrong” to me, with very few exceptions. Der Weg Einer Freiheit is one of those. Even before the first track ended I knew I was in for a treat with this album. Must have!

 

Yellow Eyes – Immersion Trench Reverie

What an extraordinary USBM album! The band moves with such ease from their doomy parts to explosive blasts that I regularly had to check that I’m still listening to the same album. Raw and somewhat depressive but with bright progressive moments, this here is a little gem. Don’t skip it.

 

Hands of Thieves – Feasting on Dark Intentions

The debut of this Polish band passed somewhat unnoticed when it came out this July, and that’s really a shame. In 4 tracks of 30 minutes running time, constantly switching from Black to Death to Doom, Hands of Thieves deliver a seminar on how to properly melt faces the old school way. Excellent!

 

The Father Of Serpents – Age Of Damnation

Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of prog metal. Most of the time I find that band after band put their musical prowess and expertise at a show-off competition, leaving their compositions lifeless. But here, WHOA! What an album. The tracks are hypnotic and they actually lead somewhere. There are some mixing mistakes here and there but they are hardly noticeable, plus the band is from Serbia: when we were perfecting our craft these guys were at war, so cut them some slack. Fans of early Paradise Lost, Opeth, Orphaned Land and Saturnus wouldn’t want to miss this album!

 

Insanity Cult / Isolert

A beautiful sample of misanthropic Black Metal from the two Greek bands that share time in this split release. The vocals on the Insanity Cult put me a bit off, but their music is awesome in any case. I liked Isolert a bit more, especially the mesmerizing closing minutes of “I Hide My Soul Inside The Trees”. Give it a spin, you have nothing to lose.

 

Darkflight – The Hereafter

This is a band that exists almost two decades, and although from the neighboring Bulgaria, I’ve never heard of them. Hopefully this 4th full length album will set them on the right foot to reach their long deserved audience. Melodic, blackened Doom Metal is what they trade, and they do it quite good. There are some obvious flaws here and there but the beauty of their compositions is far too great to bother…

 

Sicarius – Serenade Of Slitting Throats

More than decent black metal that at points reminded me of second-era Immortal. Although this US band’s debut isn’t groundbreaking, it really sounds savage, solid and promising. Keep a close eye on them.

(Bandcamp link to the album)

 

That was the second part. I’m gonna dive in my notes now to get the 3rd part ready. You go ahead and listen to those releases. Did you find any of them intriguing? Let me know in the comments…

Noteworthy Report: Rest of 2017 (pt.1)

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 the entire year. This would be a smaller list if I wasn’t neck-deep-busy over the last months, but such things happen, and so I will have to cover what was left behind during my long absence.

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 2017 that I didn’t have the time to talk about” I will break it into many parts. Enjoy the first of them…

 

Battle Dagorath – II – Frozen Light of Eternal Darkness

Last year, their “I – Dark Dragons of the Cosmos” was among my favorite albums for 2016. This year they returned to finish what they started with this second part of the opus. This one is more direct and energetic. Astral Black metal in the vein of Limbonic Art.

 

Cult Of The Horns – Chapter I. Domination

Gut wrenching blackened Death metal from France. If you are a fan of early-to-mid era Belphegor you are SO going to enjoy this album. I know I did!

 

Darkenhöld – Memoria Sylvarum

This is an album I thoroughly enjoyed this year. Inspired by the Norwegian Atmospheric Black Metal of the 90’s, it feels like a journey in the past. Time and time again you will feel the nostalgic effect of its riffs as they unearth forgotten hints of Ulver or Old Man’s Child, only to fade under a Burzum-esque change of pace, yet nothing feels forced. There is definitely something in the French waters!

 

DEVLSY – Private Suite

Lithuania is a country with hardly any well established metal bands. However they don’t give up and every now and then a good release will surface to remind us of their efforts. This avant-garde post black metal album is a “now” moment. Support it.

 

Метель – Цивилизация

Metel is a Russian black metal band clearly inspired by the Swedish school (reminded me of Negator’s “Panzer Metal”). Formed in 2003, they just released their debut album this Christmas, and it’s really really good.

 

Grailknight – Galahad’s Quest

Admit it. If you hadn’t seen the title, you too would believe that these are lost recordings of Summoning that didn’t make it to their “Lost Tales” EP. This one man project from Serbia is doing a really good job at imitating their Epic Dungeon Synth Metal. The production is quite underwhelming but I decided to cut them some slack anyways.

 

Deviser – Howling Flames

The Greek veterans return after a long absence with this tasty EP. Pompous melodic black metal that encloses everything we loved from the Greek scene of the 90’s and then some. Can’t wait for the full length!

 

DSKNT – PhSPHR Entropy

Switzerland is –at least in my mind– a country where metal bands are either atmospheric or experimenting with electronic elements, so this album was a huge surprise for me. Apparently the French Black Metal scene is getting to big to be contained and now contaminates bordering nations. Oh, goody!

(Bandcamp link to the album)

 

Necrot – Blood Offerings

I am a very difficult listener when it comes to old school Death Metal. It usually bores me to, well, death. So when an album manages to keep me entertained for its entire duration it makes it to my list. Simple as that. The Californians really did it this time. Fans of early Death, invest with both hands!

 

Fen – Winter

The gentlemen from the United Kingdom return to their roots with this 5th album. Musically, “Winter” is really close to “The Malediction Fields” (which happens to be my favorite album), yet the compositions are more mature. A solid release.

 

That was the first batch. If you enjoyed it, stay tuned as there are more to come in the following days. Which release did you particularly like?

Noteworthy Report: April 2017

Welcome my friends to another VERY late Noteworthy Report of Against The Fragmentaire. ATF is a project I run on my free time, which is becoming more of a rarity nowadays, but I try to keep active no matter the circumstances. Want to know why?

In today’s overcrowded metal scene, more than 100 albums are getting released every month. Granted, some of them aren’t all too great, but how can anyone tell? Nobody has time to listen to every single one of them. That’s what the Noteworthy Report is all about. Every month –or so- I gather my notes and talk about the best releases that usually pass under the radars of big publications.

Enough with the chit chat, on with my list for April!

Prometheus – Consumed In Flames

I’ve known Prometheus through some demo tracks and I’ve known them to be a Hellenic black metal band. So I was a little surprised when their debut landed. Here they have a clearly more blackened Death orientation. The album is packed with great riffs, inventive and intense drumming and occult atmospheres. An absolute must have!

 

Atrexial – Souverain

We stay in the blackened death metal ballpark, this time coming from Spain. Bombastic songs clearly inspired from the Swedish scene, with Marduk-esque riffs but on a different track. Some of the songs may sound unfitting, but since this is their debut I find it natural to explore a few paths and wander off from time to time. Don’t let this fact turn you down and enjoy this fresh release in any case.

 

Corpus Diavolis – Atra Lumen

Melodic Black Metal from France, bold enough to step outside the dissonant prog/black playground that has been set up there. Their music is brilliant, their drumming has a spark of genius, but their most striking aspect are the theatric vocals. A true masterpiece.

 

Ulvegr – Titahion: Kaos Manifest

Sometimes I just have to stand in awe before the talent of certain musicians. The guys responsible for this release just spit excellent album after excellent album on an unmatched pace (and under many names: Elderblood, KZOHH, GreyAblaze and more). In this 4th full length they touch on the Egyptian mysticism (bringing to mind the Greek band Acherontas at points) and they intertwine songs with prayer-like intros, the way Acheron did in “Rites of the Black Mass”. One of the best releases I heard lately…

 

Cult Of Erinyes – Tiberivs

Occult progressive black metal from the masters of the kind. The duo from Belgium returns with an album that won’t let down any of their followers. Hit play, breathe its intoxicating fumes and travel somewhere dark, to a place you can call “your unknown”…

 

So that was it. I still haven’t posted my “through the cracks” NWR, but I sure will. But first I have a review in the writing, so stay tuned because this won’t take too long to finish. As always, if you have any suggestions leave a message or send me a mail…

Noteworthy Report: March 2017

Welcome my friends to a very, VERY late Noteworthy Report of Against The Fragmentaire. As you know, ATF is a project I run on my free time, and these past two months were busy as fvck putting me off track.

In today’s overcrowded metal scene, more than 100 albums get released every month, and March had more than his fair share of “big” releases, from the highly anticipated fourth album of Woe, to a new Forteresse release, and from the –also highly anticipated– furious album of The Furor to the debut of all-star Doedsvangr. On top of the fierce competition for fan attention, Mastodon released their new album which –as uninspired as it is– overshadowed pretty much everything else.

Yet the underground never sleeps; if you aren’t easily entertained by the “low hanging fruit”, March came with some impressive gifts that passed under the radars of big publications. Without further ado, these are some of the most noteworthy releases.

 

Vacivus – Nuclear Chaos

The UK blackened deathsters (ala-Portal) return with a short but killer EP. Soul crushing riffs reduce everything to dust. Nuclear Chaos is upon us, embrace it or perish!

 

Harvest Gulgaltha – Altars Of Devotion

In a similar vein, Harvest Gulgaltha play “cryptic necromantic black death metal”, or in other words, minimal blackened death. The majority of the album is slow-paced and feels like sinking in quicksand. So much gloom and despair it feels otherworldly.

 

Mistveil – Amnesia

This is quite a debut from my compatriots Mistveil. They play melodic doom/death metal in the vein of Saturnus and early Draconian. I personally enjoy such music during the cold winter nights, but this is just my preference and timing isn’t a factor of quality in any case. You don’t want to miss it!

 

Nordland – European Paganism

This here is an album with what I call a “barrier-to-entry”. The first minutes of the album feel like they pointlessly thrust in every direction, but at some point you get what they try (and ultimately manage) to do. The album is exactly what the title says: they pick threads from pagan black all over Europe, and join them in a unique piece of art. You will hear Enslaved (both early and late), Ancient Rites, Fen and a bunch of other influences beautifully married in unity. A really interesting as well as demanding listen.

 

Wormwood – Ghostlands: Wounds From A Bleeding Earth

The Swedish folk black-metallers released their debut album this month. Filled with mostly awesome stuff, fans of Thyrfing and Amon Amarth will want to check it out. There are some odd, off-putting, Iron Maiden-ish moments here and there, but I guess this never killed anyone…

 

Pillorian – Obsidian Arc

Born just this past summer by veterans of the scene (including John Haughm of ex-Agalloch), Pillorian released their debut album in March, sharing their take on avant-garde folk black metal. If you’re a fan of USBM don’t skip this album…

 

In the following days I will release the April NWR, as well as a special NWR of releases that I listened and cared enough to share but fell through the cracks of time and ultimately never got to talk about them. So stay tuned, and as always, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Noteworthy Report: February 2017

In today’s overcrowded metal scenes, more than 100 albums are being released EVERY MONTH. Through ATF I try to review 2-3 of those albums, the ones that really worth it and don’t get as much credit as they are due. Unfortunately, this means that an awful lot of good albums are not going to be reviewed. This is why I post the “Noteworthy Report”, a monthly installment with albums that are either too noticeable to miss or albums that sound promising but I didn’t have the time to pay as much attention as they deserved.

As always, I will begin with the albums that usually pass under the radars and put the “established” acts in the end, since you probably got to listen to them already. If you believe some other way of order would serve the bands better, let me know in the comments.

 

Scuorn – Parthenope

Italy’s Scuorn have almost a decade on his back (yes, this is a one man band), but only released their debut just the past week. Symphonic black metal (that will remind you the great Limbonic Art at points) with a Mediterranean folk twist. Sounds really promising. Added bonus: the second CD comes with the orchestral versions of the songs.

 

Pure Wrath – Ascetic Eventide

Debut release for this one man band from Indonesia. Nice atmospheric black metal and a sound quality I wasn’t really ready for. At points the repetitions feel somewhat uncalled for, but the overall impression is a good one. I wish I had more time in my hands to focus in this album. If you do, don’t miss the chance to give it a spin.

 

Guerra Total – Nihilistic Malthusian Manifesto (The Ouroboros Cosmic Indifferentism)

Whoaaahaha! Total war is sure what is going on in this album. South American blackened thrash featuring some weird piano/synth moments that -once I got used to- actually managed to keep me interested throughout the duration.

 

Eterna Rovina – Metamorfosi

Another one-man band from Italy that plays mid-tempo atmospheric black metal. The album starts with some uncertainty, but a few songs in it picks its own direction and stigma. Don’t let the obvious mastering blunders turn you down, this is just the perfect stepping stone for improvement.

 

Sinister – Syncretism

Need I say anything more? Really?

 

So, what are some other interesting extreme metal albums that got released in February? Let us know in the comments…

Noteworthy Report: January 2017

In today’s overcrowded metal scenes, more than 100 albums are being released EVERY MONTH. Some of them are awesome, most of them are not. Through ATF I try to review 2-3 albums every month, the ones that really worth it and don’t get as much credit as they are due. Unfortunately, this means that an awful lot of good albums are not going to be reviewed.

This is why I post the “Noteworthy Report”, a –hopefully– monthly installment with albums that are either too noticeable to miss (so no point to write yet another review just to get some traffic), or albums that sound promising but I didn’t have the time to pay as much attention as they deserved.

I will begin with the albums that usually pass under the radars, and put the “established” acts in the end, since you probably got to listen to them already. If you believe some other way of order would serve the bands better, let me know in the comments.

 

Acrosome – Narrator and Remains

This is the second full length for the Turkish one-man band. Nightmarish ambient covered in a fog of murky avant-garde black metal. There are many elements I didn’t really liked, but the overall impression the album did to me was very powerful. Few dare to execute this kind of music, and fewer do it properly. Acrosome tried and delivered.

 

Afterblood – Blood Art Tryptych (EP)

I wasn’t aware of this Greek blackened death metal act, until we shared the stage half a year ago. Their energetic show was captivating, so when they released this new EP I was eager to check it out. The overall impression is very good, even if I mostly prefer their blackened moments (see Behold The Fallen). Definitely worth your time.

 

Begerith – A.D.A.M.

I knew I was in for a treat with this album even as the intro was still unfolding. Polish blackened death metal, closely following on the steps of late Behemoth. Astonishingly majestic, majestically astonishing.

 

Draugsól – Volaða Land

This is a cliché joke by now: there is something in the waters of Iceland, no other explanation for how they manage to have so many, so talented, so high quality extreme metal bands up there. Draugsól are no exception.

 

Scáth Na Déithe – Pledge Nothing But Flesh

Now this is a tricky beast. These guys manage to instill a heavy, mournful atmosphere to their black metal, dispelled only by the constant gear shifts from doom to high speeds. Parts of it are pure nightmare material, parts are direct whispers from the outer planes, and parts are just Irish black metal. Interesting listen in any event.

 

Enepsigos – Plague of Plagues

This is a hell of a debut. The Norwegians start their album with somewhat careful tracks, but as the clock gets ticking they raise the bar higher with every passing song. Less than halfway in, they finally stand up for their bio proclamation: this is some Trve Norwegian Black Metal. The ‘groove’ didn’t do me any good, but some riffs are pure poison. Don’t miss it.

Listen to the whole album here: https://drakkar-productions-official.bandcamp.com/album/enepsigos-plague-of-plagues

 

The Flight of Sleipnir – Skadi

The Americans return this year with their 6th album of ethereal progressive black/doom. The slowly unweaving tracks create the perfect otherworldly atmosphere to accompany your whiskey. Too bad there are not as many hours in a day to properly enjoy this.

 

These are some of the most impressive releases for the first month of 2017. If things keep up like this, I can safely bet this is going to be a hell of a year!